It’s easy to go through our busy days distracted by long lists of things to do, sometimes to the point that we fail to really tune in to the people we live with and love. Maybe your teenager has seemed extra irritable lately, but you just write it off as some temporary issue at school or typical side effects of hormonal changes. Maybe your partner or spouse has been exhausting you with their constant worry and need for reassurance. Maybe your elderly parent has stopped participating in family events or other social outlets they used to enjoy.
We all know that life is hard sometimes, and people change in response to it. But how do you know when the changes you’re seeing in a loved one are serious enough to seek professional help?
When the Diagnosis is Known
If your loved one has been previously diagnosed with depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or any other mental illness, and if they are on medication and participating in therapy or other therapeutic activities, you probably already keep an eye on their behavior and are aware of when they begin to veer off from “normal.” You probably also know how common it is for people with certain mental health diagnoses to stop taking their medication.
But even if you are well aware of when your loved one might need to boost their psychiatric care, perhaps with an inpatient stay or outpatient treatment at a psychiatric hospital, it can still be easy to deny the behaviors you’re seeing because you want to avoid the process of confronting your loved one and motivating them to enter treatment.
It’s also easy, at least at first, to write off the behaviors you’re seeing because you want to believe your loved one is “better.” After all, it’s been months or years since they last relapsed, and they have come so far during that time.
Still, you know that when your loved one stops taking medication or starts canceling therapy appointments or avoiding you and other loved ones, something is up. And as you probably already know, the earlier the intervention, the better.
When No Diagnosis has yet been Made
If you or your loved ones have never personally experienced mental illness, it can be tricky to determine when someone’s behavior is ‘off’ and how seriously to take it. While each mental illness manifests in different ways, here are some signs and symptoms they have in common:
- Increased isolation from loved ones
- Marked decline in self care (you may notice hygiene changes, weight changes, changes in sleep patterns, etc.)
- Significant tiredness and low energy
- Decline in physical health
- Extreme emotions and/or mood swings
- Increased drug or alcohol use
- Detachment from reality
- Confused thinking
If your loved one is showing several of these signs, talk with them and help them make arrangements to speak with a therapist or doctor. Depending on the diagnosis and severity of the illness, intervention may take the form of therapy or a combination of medication and therapy.
In more extreme cases, inpatient or outpatient care may be required. This is generally recommended when the person is in danger of harming themselves or others; is experiencing significant detachment from reality; or is unable to manage their life. In these cases, a short-term inpatient stay at a behavioral health facility like Miramont can be exactly what is needed to stabilize the person and set a foundation for lasting wellness. Our hospital in Middleton, WI, is staffed with compassionate professionals who will design a treatment plan that meets your loved one’s unique needs.
All you need to do is encourage your loved one to take the first step: talk with a professional. That person can help you decide which level of care will work best. If your loved one is in denial of their condition and resisting treatment, reach out to one of our admissions counselors. We can help you determine how to proceed.