Escape the Minefield In Your Head

Nov 11, 2019 | Mental Health, Wellness

What makes you happy is subjective, but making sure your mental health is in check is something that everyone needs to focus on, says Louisville psychiatrist Dr. Ora Frankel.

Mental health is not only the way we feel, but it includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, she says.

Sometimes unhappiness, and even more dramatic symptoms like depression and suicidal thoughts, can be hard to diagnose. But, Dr. Frankel says, there is help if you or someone you know is struggling with depression or other mental health issues.

There are different ways a psychologist or a psychiatrist looks at diagnosis, she says. Symptoms that last longer than six days can be considered an issue, but six weeks or more can be considered major depression. “All symptoms can be fuzzy,” she says, but when they’re combined, it can be “really bad.”

Symptoms include:

1.)   Fluctuations in mood or lifestyle

2.)   Sleep changes (excessive sleep, falling asleep and waking up frequently, or insomnia)

3.)   Decrease of interests

4.)   Excessive guilt

5.)   Drop in energy

6.)   Decrease in concentration (memory loss)

7.)   Appetite changes (loss or increase)

8.)   Increase in agitation/more lethargic

9.)   Suicidal ideation (thoughts, passive comments, or plan/intent)

Those who have had a family history of depression or substance abuse and those who have experienced recent losses can be more susceptible to these symptoms.

If it’s a friend having these issues, Dr. Frankel says to first start asking questions. “We don’t expect friends to play psychologist,” she says. “If they are acting differently, start asking questions and consider talking to them … (Say) ‘Is there anything I can do to help?’”

Dr. Frankel says sometimes it’s better for a friend or roommate who has concerns to contact the person’s family member to step in. “I think symptoms in the psych world can be very confusing to people,” she says. “It’s advisable to seek psychiatric help if there are signs and symptoms of a medical condition.”

Dr. Frankel suggests those suffering from depression or other mental health issues should consider a combination of medicine, treatment, and therapy.

P.S. Friendships: who to keep and who to let go. 

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