How Do You Know if You Need Mental Health Care?

Monday, July 19, 2010 - 08:02 AM

Today on the show we talked about the stigma associated with mental health issues. But stigma isn't just discrimination or disdain for people with mental health issues. In fact, some of the experts I've spoken to say they've seen that type of stigma disappearing in the past few years. What remains is more insidious: the idea that a mental health problem as something that happens only to other people.

After all, if you never consider that you may benefit from mental health care, you'll never seek out that care and get the treatment you need. David Shern, PhD, the president of the nonprofit Mental Health America used the example of his mother, who everyone thought was always just "a worrier." But what people wrote off as an irritating personality quirk, Dr. Shern now clearly recognizes as an anxiety disorder, something that could have been effectively treated with some behavior modification or perhaps medication.

So how do you know if you should be seeking some mental health guidance? After all, one in two Americans will meet the criteria for a mental health problem at one time or another during their lives. The doctors I spoke to said that if you no longer enjoy your favorite activities, if you're not sleeping well, and if you're eating habits have changed, it may be useful to speak to your doctor about meeting with a psychiatrist or counselor - especially if your close friends or family have made comments about how you're not "yourself" or "the same."

But sometimes it can be hard to tell. Take Dr. Shern's mother, who many probably saw as "the same", the same old worrywart she'd always been. That's where a testing may come in handy. Mental Health America has an  online diagnostic tool  that tests for some basic mental health problems - anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. It's not a definitive, foolproof test, but it's a good start and, if you're concerned about the results, a good jumping-off point for a conversation with your doctor.


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Comments [1]

joe gavis from Miami

I don't like mental health professionals, they are too busy inventing disease and ultimatly craping on someones parade. Our ancestors did not have drugs, they faced death everyday. No anxiety! There is no such thing as mental illness. We suffer from the human condition. If it bothers you be patient, it will eventually go away. Till it does, make money!!! You never will be productive around shrinks, they have systems where you can become a victim. Some people like to worry, that's their hobby and joy why would anyone (other than a sadist or mangele) want to take joy away from another? Also most people who suffer from anxiety or suicidal thoughts need to go skydiving. Facing death (not drugs) usually soothes most anxiety. Trust no-one other than God and your spiritual leader. Pray for foregiveness for your sins and foregiveness for those who have sinned against you. For more inpiration, visit a concentration camp or a battle field like Gettysburg once in a while. Visit Ground Zero at NYC or Hiroshima. Be happy and gratefull that you were not there when it hit the fan.

Jul. 19 2010 07:28 PM

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