Sunday, February 26, 2012

Looking for Trouble: Signs of an Impending Mental Health Crisis

Seeing the smoke helps to identify the fire.  So it's important to know the early warning signs of a mental health crisis and to act so you can minimize relapses. 

Family members and close friends are typically those who see the signs first.  That's because those close to someone with mental illness are most likely to know both the characteristics of the illness and the personality of the individual.  Signs that something is wrong can include:
  • A distinct change in sleep pattern
  • An increase in irritability
  • Statements that show disorganized thinking or bizarre thoughts
  • Exaggerated fears
  • Excessive or inappropriate emotions
  • Angry outbursts 
  • Volatile behavior
  • Increased isolation
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Difficulty doing things that could be done easily before
  • Any other unusual behavior that has preceded a relapse in the past
When you notice these issues, you should:
  1. Talk to others involved in caregiving to discuss impressions and form a plan of action.
  2. Contact the psychiatrist and suggest an evaluation of current medication.
  3. Keep any changes in routine to a minimum as much as possible.
  4. Keep the person's environment as safe and peaceful as possible.
  5. Keep emergency telephone numbers in your cell phone and carry it with you at all times.
  6. If possible, talk to your loved one about the situation. 
Next, we'll take a look at signs of suicide and what to do if you see them. 

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