Although conversations about mental health have been increasing in recent years, it can still be difficult to identify when a crisis is developing. In most cases, a mental health crisis develops slowly over time and you may not recognize there is a developing problem until it has reached a dramatic level.
Many people fear the potential outcomes of having a mental health crisis and try to disguise it, but this often exacerbates symptoms and worsens the condition. Educating yourself about mental health, treatment options, and methods of intervention can help you better advocate for your loved one and ensure they get the help they need.
Signs of a Mental Health Crisis
Despite the changing conversation around mental health awareness, many people still struggle with feelings of guilt or shame in relation to their own mental health. They may not feel comfortable asking for help or expressing there is a problem. Instead, symptoms of mental health conditions begin to manifest in a variety of other ways. Being able to identify the signs of a mental health crisis can help you uncover a growing problem, even if they are unwilling to admit it.
Change in consumption of alcohol or drugs can indicate a developing problem. Substance abuse and mental health conditions often go hand-in-hand because alcohol and drugs are often used as a method of self-medication. They can provide temporary relief and escape, but usually exacerbate symptoms of mental health conditions and worsen a person’s overall health. Frequent use, increased dosages, and using substances alone may indicate that a person has an addiction developing.
Major Life Changes
A mental health crisis may be triggered by a major life change. Stressful life events can cause a person to experience mental health symptoms that are not easy to recover from. Events such as losing a job, financial difficulties, the ending of a significant relationship, the death of a loved one, bullying, or experiencing a traumatic event can all trigger mental health. Depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may not full present themselves until months after the event occurred, but they can persist for years.
Lack of Self-Care
When struggling with mental health, one of the first things to stop being a priority is self-care. This often manifests in a lack of hygiene or interest in taking care of oneself. They may stop showering regularly, may not be brushing their teeth, and may make poor nutritional choices when it comes to their meals. Coupled with a lack of exercising, the consequences of engaging in these behaviors can make a person feel worse and perpetuate the cycle.
A person going through a mental health crisis may begin to withdraw from others and may not engage with friends or family. They may show symptoms such as a lack of motivation, low energy, and avoidance. They may not answer texts or calls, spend more time alone in their room, and stop going out with friends. These symptoms are most common in those with depression or anxiety.
A change in their outlook can be subtle and difficult to notice unless they begin expressing how they feel out loud. They may become more cynical or pessimistic and focus on negative things. You may notice a change in their interactions with others and they may express a lack of hope in things ever getting better. While going through periods of hopelessness can happen to anyone and may not necessarily indicate a crisis, it is important to pay attention. These thoughts coupled with other symptoms such as avoidance and lack of self-care may indicate there is a larger issue developing.
What to Do When a Mental Health Crisis Occurs
When you recognize signs of mental health crisis in a loved one, you may not know what to do. Before a crisis occurs, it is important to educate yourself by learning more about mental health and finding resources within the community that can assist should the need arise.
It is important to note that if someone may be a danger to themselves or others you need to call 911 immediately.
Approach the person
Opening up a conversation with your loved one can make a significant impact. Prepare what you want to say before starting the conversation and avoid any language that can be perceived as judgmental. Instead, expressing your concern, observations, and interest in helping them can make it easier for them to discuss their challenges. No matter how much you prepare, however, there is still a possibility that they may not react positively to you approaching them.
Offer Ways You Can Help
If the person you are concerned about is open to the conversation, you can discuss ways you may be able to help them. Being willing to listen without judgment, the ability to offer practical help with responsibilities, or going with them to appointments may help them feel empowered to make changes.
Seek Guidance From a Mental Health Professional
You cannot always prepare for a mental health crisis. In most cases, a mental health crisis does not develop overnight. They often slowly evolve over time, but many people miss the signs. Connecting with a mental health professional before a crisis develops can help you prepare for an emergency before it even happens. They can be a point of contact when the need arises and can help with providing care and support.
Find Additional Support
A mental health crisis can be extremely stressful. Your loved way may not want help and you may feel overwhelmed by the situation. It is important to also identify what your needs are and ensure those are addressed adequately. Whether it is through therapy or asking friends or family for support, your needs should not be disregarded. While the situation may be distressing, it is important to remember you are not alone and seeking support for yourself can make you a better resource for your loved one as well.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or co-occurring mental health disorders, we are here to help. Give us a call at 888.855.6877 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.