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Each year, May is Mental Health Awareness Month and its advent gives us pause to reflect on the stigma attaching to  mental health and mental illness illness.

Unfortunately, this stigma can cause the close family members, friends or work colleagues of a person suffering from a mental health disorder  associate to be critical, fearful, judgmental and generally dismissive of them.

As a consequnce causes many such people attempt to hide their mental concerns and often avoid treatment or are unwilling to take medication.

NAMI, the National Alliance of Mental Illness, lists the following symptoms that you may notice in friends and close relatives:

    • Excessive worrying or fear
    • Feeling excessively sad or low
    • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
    • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
    • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
    • Avoiding friends and social activities
    • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
    • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
    • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
    • Changes in sex drive
    • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality)
    • Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality, lack of insight
    • Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
    • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
    • Thinking about suicide
    • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
    • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance

Mental health conditions can also begin to develop in young children. Because they’re still learning how to identify and talk about thoughts and emotions, their most obvious symptoms are behavioral. Symptoms in children may include the following:

    • Changes in school performance
    • Excessive worry or anxiety, for instance fighting to avoid bed or school
    • Hyperactive behavior
    • Frequent nightmares
    • Frequent disobedience or aggression
    • Frequent temper tantrums

Failing to get help can have disastrous results including suicidal thoughts, attempts and death by suicide.

Talented and successful University of Pennsylvania freshman, Madison Holleran took her life in 20014. Madison, like many young people presented a very different view of her life on Instagram than the reality of how she was actually feeling.

After the death of their daughter, her family has made it their purpose to help others know that “It’s OK to not be OK. It’s OK to show people you’re not OK.”

One criticism of the reporting of this powerful story is that her suicide method is described thus risking others to copy.

So, if someone you love shows signs that they are struggling please help them find help even when they tell you that everything is fine. Be open minded when listening to their concerns. Remember if “they could just buck up” they would.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

If and when you are ready…

If you want guidance to make changes in your life arising from depression and/or its close relative, anxiety, I invite you to call me today to set up an appointment held on Zoom by either phoning me at (941) 306 1235 or emailing me at [email protected].

I offer a complimentary 15 minute by phone if you have questions you would like answered before beginning counseling.