Last ated: May 12, References Approved. This article was co-authored by Padam Bhatia, MD. He specializes in treating patients with a combination of traditional medicine and evidence-based holistic therapies. There are 22 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has 15 testimonials from our readers, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewe times. Around 54 million Americans suffer from a mental disorder or illness in any given year.
The best thing that ever happened to me is that he stayed. Disclosing can be a valuable litmus test of whether a partner is a good long-term match. Judith who asked to be identified by a pseudonym to protect her privacy has complex post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, experienced this when she disclosed to a new partner.
At first he was gentle with her, and very understanding. If Judith could do it over, she would be much more explicit in describing the seriousness of her depression. Another positive ct of early disclosure is that it can jump-start vulnerability. When one person opens up about something sensitive or challenging, it can elicit trust and an equal willingness to be vulnerable in the other.
Iesha Williams waited 11 months and until she was married to tell her husband about her anxiety and depression. The depression was intense and seemed inescapable. Thankfully, he listened and was attentive to what I expressed. Steinhardt believes these conversations often result in both partners feeling more known, accepted, and loved. Confronting something this real and personal early in a relationship can be a catapult into deep intimacy and trust.
I told Joel everything right away, that first night. He responded beautifully, holding me and sharing painful cts of his own life. Within the first few weeks, I taught him about common anxiety-induced relationship pitfalls, and more about panic. Four months in, he has been unfailingly responsive and calm, encouraging and nurturing, and inspires me to be the same with him.
He reminds me this is part of it: the doubting, the fear, the bliss. One evening I arrived late to a concert and saw him sitting there, eyes closed, body still. We walked wordlessly toward each other through the crowd and rubbed our faces together, swaying slowly.
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I let myself submit just the smallest bit more. If you or someone you know needs help, call for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Understand possible biological risk factors. There is no single cause for mental illness, but there are a variety of biological factors that are known to alter brain chemistry and cause hormone imbalances.
Some mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression, are strongly linked to genetics. If anyone else in your family has been diagnosed with mental illness, you may be more vulnerable to developing one due simply to your genetic makeup.
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Physiological damage. Injuries such as severe head trauma, or exposure to viruses, bacteria, or toxins during fetal development, can lead to mental illness. Chronic medical conditions. Chronic medical conditions, such as cancer and other long-term severe illnesses, can elevate your risk for developing mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.
Understand possible environmental risk factors.
Some mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression, are strongly linked to your personal environment and sense of well-being. Disruptions and instability can cause or worsen mental illness. Highly emotional or distressing situations in life can trigger mental illness in a person. This can be concentrated in a moment, such as the loss of a loved one, or drawn out, such as a history of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse.
Experience in combat or as an emergency responder can also trigger mental illness. Stress can worsen existing mental illness and can also cause mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety.
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Family conflicts, financial difficulties, and work concerns can all be sources of stress. Not having a strong support network, having few friends, and lacking healthy relationships can trigger or worsen mental illness. Recognize mental warning signs and symptoms. Some mental illnesses are present from birth, but others develop over time or appear quite suddenly. Recognize physical warning signs and symptoms. Sometimes, physical symptoms can serve as warnings for the presence of mental illness.
If you have symptoms that persist, seek medical help. Determine how drastic your symptoms are. Many of these symptoms appear in response to day-to-day events, and are thus not necessarily indicators that you are mentally ill. You should be wary if they do not go away, and, more importantly, if they negatively impact your ability to function in day-to-day life.
Never be afraid to seek professional medical help. Part 2 of Understand the types of help available. There are many trained professionals in the area of mental health, and while their roles often overlap, each field has its own specialties. They are the most extensively trained psychological professionals and are usually the best source to help you manage prescription medications.
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They are also trained in the diagnosis of mental illnesses, including severe illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Clinical Psychologists have a doctoral degree in psychology and have usually completed internships or residencies in mental health facilities. They can diagnose mental illnesses, administer psychological tests, and provide psychotherapy.
Unless they have a special license, they usually cannot write prescriptions. They can diagnose mental illnesses and prescribe medication. In some cases they can also provide psychotherapy.
Depending on your state, they may be required to work in conjunction with a psychiatrist. Licensed Clinical Social Workers have completed internships or residencies in mental health facilities and have had training in mental health counseling.
They can provide therapy but cannot prescribe medications. They are usually very familiar with social support systems and resources. Counselors have a graduate degree in counseling and have usually completed internships in mental health facilities. They tend to focus on particular mental health issues such as addictions and substance abuse, although they can provide counseling for a variety of mental health issues.
They cannot prescribe medications, and in many states they cannot diagnose mental illness. Physicians usually do not have extensive training in mental health, but they can prescribe medications and can also help you manage your holistic health.
Visit your physician. Some mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression, can often be effectively treated with prescription medication that your personal doctor may be able to prescribe.
Talk with your doctor about your symptoms and share your concerns. Your doctor may also be able to refer you to a trained mental health professional in your area. An official mental health diagnosis is required for individuals to apply for Social Security psychiatric disability support and to ensure that you are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Contact your health insurance company. If you live in the United States, you probably pay for health insurance coverage. Call your insurance company and ask for the contact information for mental health professionals in your area who accept your insurance plan. Be sure to clarify any specific requirements of your insurance plan.
For example, you may need to obtain a referral from your primary doctor to see a psychiatrist, or there may be certain session limits placed on therapy. If you do not have health insurance, look for a community mental health center in your area. These centers often provide free or very low-cost treatment to low-income or uninsured individuals.
Some large universities and medical schools also have low-cost clinics.
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Schedule an appointment. Depending on your area, you may need to wait between a few days to a few months to get an appointment with a mental health professional, so book your appointment as soon as possible. Ask to join the waitlist or cancellation list, if they have one, so that you have a chance of securing an earlier appointment.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or plans, seek help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available to call, free of charge, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Ask questions. You should feel free to ask questions of your mental health care provider. You should also ask questions about potential treatment options, such as the types and durations of therapy available, and what sorts of medication you may require.
Also, ask about your treatment options, like medication, herbal remedies, or newer treatments in the field. Personal interview.
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In addition, ask about the prognosis for your condition. Many psychiatric diagnoses are not curable, so be curious about how long you might be in treatment or whether it will last indefinitely, as well as how long you might need to take a medication or whether it's addictive. You should also ask your provider what you can do to help the process.
While you cannot cure or treat mental illness on your own, there are things you can do to help promote your own mental health; discuss these with your provider.
Consider your interaction with your provider. The relationship between you and your therapist should feel safe, welcoming, and comfortable. You will probably feel very vulnerable on your first visit.
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If you don't feel like you're able to be completely open and honest with them, you may need to find someone else. Part 3 of Avoid judging yourself. Establish a support network. Friends and family are good places to start. There are also many support groups available.
Check for a support group in your community, or find one online. They have a help-line and a directory of support resources. Consider meditation or mindfulness training. Mindfulness and meditation emphasize the importance of acceptance and presence, which can help alleviate stress.
Keep a journal. Keeping a journal of your thoughts and experiences can help you in several ways. Writing down negative thoughts or anxieties may help you stop focusing on them. Keeping track of what triggers a particular experience or symptom will help your mental health provider give you the best care.
It can also allow you to explore your emotions in a safe way.
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Maintain good diet and exercise habits. While diet and exercise cannot prevent mental illness, they can help you manage your symptoms. Maintaining a regular schedule and getting enough sleep are particularly important if you have a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Consult with a professional to ensure that you are maintaining healthy habits.
Limit your alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a depressant and can have significant influence on your feelings of well-being. If you are having trouble with an illness such as depression or substance abuse, alcohol may be something you should stay away from altogether. If you do consume alcohol, drink in moderation: usually, 2 glasses of wine, 2 beers, or 2 shots of liquor per day for women and 3 for men. Alcohol should not be consumed at all while you are on certain prescription medications.
Talk with your prescribing physician about how to manage your medications.
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What are some questions I should ask my psychiatrist if I think I'm mentally ill? Padam Bhatia, MD. If you feel you might be mentally ill, you should be very open and honest with what symptoms you're feeling. A lot of people will shy away from treatment due to various stigmas, so be honest about those, too. Also, ask about different types of treatments, what the prognosis is, and how long treatment should last.