Better Together: Handling Mental Illness In The Family

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Better Together: Handling Mental Illness In The Family

A mental illness is a disorder that affects a person’s mood, behavior, or thoughts. The most severe mental illnesses are bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, major depression, and panic disorder. Although mental illness can be challenging, it should be kept in mind that it is treatable. It is possible to live a long, fulfilled life if you are diagnosed with a mental disorder and treat it.

Taking Care of a Family Member With Mental Illness

It can be a shock when you’re diagnosed with mental illness. It surprises you, your family, and your friends. Having a diagnosis and treatment plan can relieve the amount of stress your loved ones feel. Explaining your diagnosis to your loved ones can help them move forward with recovery. Involving your loved ones in understanding your diagnosis is an excellent way to help relieve shock and stress. While every mental illness manifests differently, some symptoms overlap:

  • Withdrawing from social situations: If your loved one withdraws, they might be experiencing depression or anxiety. 
  • Functional difficulty at work or school: Attention disorders and other mental conditions can affect your ability to function correctly or focus at school or work.
  • Difficulty remembering or thinking: ADHD, depression, and other mental illnesses can affect memory and thought processes.
  • Disconnection from reality: Schizophrenia and dementia can make someone seem disconnected.
  • Alcohol and drug use: Many patients with mental illness use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate.
  • Suicidal thoughts: If your loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts, urge them to seek help. These thoughts could point to something more severe than general depression and anxiety.

If your loved one displays symptoms of a mental condition, mental health professionals urge you to stay calm. It’s easy to imagine a worst-case scenario, but the experience of your loved one may not be mental illness. They may be going through a high-stress situation. Family loss, job loss, or moving to a new school can affect someone’s mood. If you’re panicking, so will your loved one.

If you find out your loved one hasn’t been through a high-stress situation, encourage them to see a therapist or mental health professional. It’s possible to express your concern for their well-being without blaming them for their feelings. If you know someone who has been displaying symptoms of mental illness, physicians urge you to acknowledge and sympathize with them. If your loved one struggles to find a doctor or a therapist, there are ways to help. If you’ve expressed concern and your loved one is reluctant to contact a therapist, consider talking to their general practitioner. Physicians are unable to share information due to privacy laws. But alerting them to your concerns is not illegal. Their physician might have noticed the same symptoms and might be able to refer them to a mental health professional.

The Importance of Reaching Out to Mental Health Professionals

You can encourage your loved one to schedule an appointment with a therapist or mental health physician. If they express reluctance, suggest a visit to their general physician for a referral. Prestige Mental Health can be an excellent resource when choosing a mental health professional. Call us or schedule an appointment online today!

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April is the founder of Prestige Mental Health and is a board certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP-BC) who is qualified to practice primary care and psychiatry. She is passionate about providing quality, compassionate, and comprehensive mental health services to children, adolescents, and adults. April specializes in psychiatric illnesses including but not limited to depression, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, PTSD/trauma, bipolar, and schizophrenia.