Every person on this planet was created as a specialized individual. The same treatment used by one person to combat a mental disorder may not necessarily be the best plan of action for the next person.
How do you know if you are suffering from a serious disorder? When should you seek out help? What is the most effective course of action for your specific mental health condition? First, we need to determine if your symptoms warrant treatment.
Knowing When to Seek Mental Health Treatment
When is a bout of depression or anxiety considered a mental health disorder? In this age of digital technology, you can access a mental health test and self-assessments with only a few clicks.
You can find free online quizzes that will ask you a series of questions and deliver a report to you (typically through email) to print out. You can show the report to your primary physician to facilitate a mental health care dialogue.
What can you expect from an online mental health test? Many health quizzes allow you to take the self-assessments on the disorder you suspect may be the culprit. It is of special concern to note that these tests do not diagnose or treat a disorder; only a professional psychiatric evaluation can do that.
The mental health tests are for informational purposes only, designed to give you a tangible report to jumpstart the conversation with your doctor. Since there are several quizzes online, do your research and only choose self-assessments from websites you trust.
Once you approach your physician with the report and a list of symptoms, a referral may be sent to a mental health care professional or psychiatric facility on your behalf.
With so many different assessments, questionnaires, lists, and general information at our fingertips, it can be very tempting to come up with a diagnosis on our own. It’s fine to identify symptoms and wonder about a possible diagnosis, but it is important not to assume you are correct and begin treating for it without first consulting your physician or a mental health professional. The ultimate goal is to find and employ the best possible treatment.
Common Mental Health Disorders Treated at Psychiatric Facilities and Counseling Centers
The following is certainly not an exhaustive list of mental health disorders. It covers the most common mental conditions treated at local counseling centers and psychiatric facilities.
- Depression: When severe depression hits, it may indicate a deeper condition having to do with neural activity or chronic mood swings.
- Anxiety: Severe anxiety can be debilitating. If you worry to the point of physical symptoms such as a fast heartbeat and stomach upset, you may need to seek counsel to get to the root of the overwhelming emotion.
- ADHD: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is diagnosed in both children and adults. The inability to focus and impulsiveness are common symptoms of ADHD.
- Eating Disorders: These disorders include bulimia, anorexia, bingeing, purging, and other food-focused conditions. Since eating disorders can break down the internal organs, seeking treatment is critical if you think you might suffer from one of the conditions listed.
- Alcohol and Substance Abuse (including Chemical Dependency): Patients who overindulge in alcohol or take illicit drugs should seek help right away, since not only can the dependency destroy their bodies, but their minds and families as well. This includes abusing prescription medications.
- Bipolar Disorder: This mental health disorder is characterized by sudden and chronic mood swings from high-highs (manic states) to low-lows (depressive states) or a combination of the two (manic-depressive states).
- Schizophrenia: Disorganized thoughts, the misinterpretation of reality, hallucinations, and/or delusions are symptoms of schizophrenia. To help control the symptoms, the patient may require lifelong treatment.
- Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD): Sometimes accompanied by an eating disorder, a patient with BDD sees a distorted version of themselves in the mirror or hyper-focuses on a minor flaw. They may avoid social settings, so one-on-one therapy may prove beneficial as part of their treatment plan.
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Patients with OCD behave uncontrollably in certain situations. They may repeat a routine obsessively or become agitated if they cannot perform a behavior.
- Panic Attacks: Unlike an anxiety attack, panic attacks are sudden and create physical symptoms that can include the inability to breathe, crushing pain in the chest, and irrational fear. The patient may be unable to drive or leave the house due to a perceived threat.
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD is commonly diagnosed in military members after witnessing the ravages of fighting and war. However, adult and child civilians can also suffer from the condition as a response to a traumatic event or abuse.
- Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): BPD can lead to impulsive behaviors, narcissism, grandiosity, violent anger, physical confrontations, self-harm, and suicidal tendencies. A patient with BPD has trouble building and holding onto the important relationships in their lives.
Each mental health disorder mentioned above is considered serious. You should seek treatment from a certified professional to monitor and help alleviate your symptoms. These conditions do not define the person you are and an effective treatment plan will help you live your life instead of feeling debilitated by the disorder.
Types of Mental Health Treatment Professionals
Psychiatric facilities can include hospitals, residential mental health centers, counseling centers, or private psychiatrist or psychologist practices.
A hospital may designate a floor or a wing to mental health care. Patients may be treated with outpatient or inpatient care. Severe episodes of a mental health disorder like those experienced with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia may require hospitalization for an extended length of time.
Residential mental health centers, also known as rehabilitation centers or retreats, allow the patient to immerse themselves into their surroundings with calming routines, therapies, and treatments. Many patients find this option a distraction-free way to learn to cope with their specific disorder and may travel to another city or state to “get away” for a while.
Counseling centers can provide a multidisciplinary healthcare team to facilitate treatment. At the center, you can find various psychotherapy options as well as alternative treatments. You can also locate faith-based centers in your area.
Some patients may find solace and comfort in meeting with a psychiatrist or psychologist in a private practice offsite from the hospital or counseling center for one-on-one therapy.
Types of Psychiatric Treatments
Due to the enormous list of mental health disorders, there are several types of psychiatric treatments available. Since not every treatment is beneficial for everyone’s condition, you will need to work with your healthcare team to develop an action plan that may include a combination of treatments.
If you suffer from more than one mental health disorder, more treatment options may need to be incorporated into your plan.
- Prescription Medications
Physicians and psychiatrists may prescribe mood stabilizers, anti-anxiety medications, antipsychotic medications, or antidepressants to treat the symptoms of a mental health disorder. It is not uncommon for a patient to be on more than one prescription medication. The goal is to control the symptoms so the patient can enjoy a higher quality of life.
Psychotherapy is well-known in the healthcare field. You can work with your team to develop the best therapy plan that can include one-on-one counseling, group therapy, family counseling, interpersonal communication therapy, or cognitive behavioral therapy. Other specialized therapies exist for certain disorders such as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR) for PTSD patients.
Severe symptoms may require hospitalization in some patients, including those contemplating suicide or demonstrating psychotic behavior. The patient receives supervised treatment in a safe environment.
- Residential Mental Health Treatment Centers
Most residential treatment centers are not covered by insurance and are considered a more expensive option. However, patients may decide the peace and distraction-free zone is worth the cost.
- Recovery Programs
Available as an outpatient, inpatient, and residential options, recovery programs are popular with patients learning to overcome alcohol and substance abuse. The programs can last weeks, months, or years. If you are a victim of trauma, abuse, or are working through grief or substance use, these groups are a great way to feel like you don’t have to go it alone.
- Psychiatric Alternative Treatments
These may include some Christian faith-based programs, meditation and/or prayer, yoga, exercise, and nutrition to combat the symptoms of a mental health disorder. Nourishing the body with proper diet and movement, along with empowering Christ-based therapy can help patients live a normal and hope-filled life.
This can be a good solution for some, but as with all of these options, you are the one who has to self-assess and be able to identify that you are making progress or not. It’s not about what people are expecting of you – a tempting trap to fall into – but about what your actual experience is. We cannot treat what we are not willing to identify.
Sometimes, one of the hardest things to do is overcome that initial resistance to making that first phone or email contact. The danger with some mental health issues is that they come on slowly, sometimes over years, and we get used to them being a part of how we operate; they become background.
Depending on the issue, this may not pose a significant problem, but there are certain conditions that can become harmful or fatal if allowed to progress unchecked. As a general rule, it’s okay to make your assessment based on how much disruption the issue is causing in your internal, and interpersonal emotional operation.
For example, if you have been feeling moderately depressed or “blue” for three or four days out of the month, it’s worth noting but may not be a cause for concern. If during those four days you can’t get out of bed, or think about killing yourself, treat that as a big red flag and get help as soon as possible. If you have been steadily getting worse for the past month, or three months, or whatever, the sooner you get help the better. For illnesses like depression, it only gets harder to ask for help the worse it gets.
You may feel the impact of a stigma around mental health services. In many families there is at least some sense, spoken or unspoken, that there’s something wrong with you if you need to see a therapist, and not wrong in the “of course, that’s why you’re getting help” sense but in the, “wow, what’s wrong with you?” sense.
Much progress has been made to normalize the value of mental health services at a societal level, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people in our lives who will try to shame us if they know we are getting help.
Your decision to get help is just that; your decision. One of the kindest things you can do for yourself is to take steps toward your own care. And lest you feel like it is somehow selfish to take care of yourself, remember that the more emotionally healthy you are, the more likely you are to become a better version of yourself in your relationships with those around you.
They may be uncomfortable at first because you are changing the rules of the game (i.e. not letting them just roll over you anymore, or identifying needs and asking for them if that is new for you), but a healthy you is much more likely to lead toward a healthy us if I am receptive to owning my part of the relationship. And a healthy you is much better than an unhealthy you because you let someone shame you into not getting help, or you couldn’t get past your resistance.
So, once you have made a decision you are willing to find help, make it your mission to equip yourself with knowledge and a list of resources to plan your psychiatric treatment plan. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel a particular treatment isn’t working for your condition. Your professional mental healthcare team is there to help you find relief and balance.
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