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Do I need professional help?

Mental well-being can be thought of as on a continuum. There may be times when you feel better or worse depending on a variety of factors and, often, fluctuations in how we feel are common and should be expected. For example, if a close family member or friend passes away or you experience a job loss you might feel upset, sad or even angry. These emotions are in line with what you'd expect from grief and loss. In situations where there is a question as to whether a person’s emotions are in the typical range of functioning, a mental health professional might be needed to evaluate how various factors impact a person’s daily life. In the previous example, this might mean evaluating how long and persistent sadness, anger, and grief have lasted and in what ways these emotions are manifesting. Factors that are less persistent and disruptive to someone’s daily functioning would suggest mild mental health issues. More severe mental health challenges are denoted by disruptions to relationships and/or work or school that make daily living extremely difficult and often result in negative consequences.

Signs of a more serious mental health issue may be indicated by mood, physical and/or behavioral changes. If one or more of these symptoms last for two weeks or more, contacting a mental health professional may be indicated. The following is not an exhaustive list; however, it does include changes commonly seen in people with more severe mental health challenges.

Mood Changes

                          Shifts in mood that are noticeable from very high to very low                                                Feeling “down” or sad for extended periods of time without a clear reason                                                         Outburst of anger, irritation, hostility or volatility                                          Difficulty relating to others (e.g., having trouble understanding the feelings of others)               Intense worry or fear that is continuous and/or excessive

Physical Changes

                        • Disturbances in sleep (too much or too little) and/or sleep patterns                                                   Feeling of exhaustion despite getting usual amounts of sleep                                                Increased heart rate, nausea, sudden sweating or changes in breathing                    • Noticeable differences in behaviors around eating and food. Examples: Restrictive eating or binging on food, experiencing fear of foods or eating without a clear reason, or having worries about body image

Behavioral Changes

                                        • Self-injurious behaviors, such as cutting                                                                                                Suicidal thoughts or behaviors                                                       Significantly withdrawing from relationships or social activities that were previously important    Delusions, believing in things that aren’t real or hallucinations/sensory experiences that may feel real but are not (e.g., hearing voices that no one else can hear)

I'm not feeling like myself, but I don't think I need professional help.

Some people may not feel like themselves from time to time but don’t feel that they are at the point of needing ongoing support. An example of this might be having less energy than normal but still being able to do what's required at work, school and in relationships.  

Tips for managing challenging intermittent feelings:

Humans need to express!

             • Finding someone to talk to can help – even if you don’t know that person well.      • Seek out the people in your life that are good listeners or that you can be yourself with.      • If you can’t think of anyone that you’d want to talk or you’d rather speak to someone anonymously, consider a helpline (7 cups is a particularly good website for someone not in crisis, but just needing to be heard. See other helpline options under the “I need help now!” heading.)   • Write! Jotting down how we feel and what we think eases stress, allows us to process our feelings safely, improves mood, enhances self-awareness, reduces rumination, and helps develop                                                                             coping skills.                                                                                                                                              • Doodle, draw or paint.                                                                                                                                     • Play an instrument.                                                                                                                  • Or think about what has helped you express yourself in the past that is unique to you and do that! 

Take stock!

• Have you eaten regularly, been drinking water and gotten enough sleep in the past couple of days? Research has shown that not eating enough or eating less healthy options can impact mood                                                                 negatively.                                                                • Have you been physically active recently? This does not mean that you need to engage in strenuous exercise. Even a short walk can help in calming overwhelming emotions.                                                  • Has something happened recently to give you reason to feel “off” (e.g., a relationship loss,                                                                    school change, etc.)?                                                         • Have you been isolated from others? Humans are social beings and when we don’t have in-person experiences with others, it can impact our functioning.

Things to do now that may seem obvious but maybe you haven’t tried before!

 • Listen to music.

• Do some deep breathing.                                                                                                            • Engage in a creative activity.                                                               

• Go for a run or walk or move your body in some way (e.g., biking, dancing).                                 • Enjoy nature.                                                                                                                                Learn how to find awe.                                                                                                              • Practice mindfulness.                                                                                                

• Learn to meditate or pick the practice back up!                                   

• Solitude/quiet time – getting time to ourselves during which we can take a break from visual and auditory stimuli constantly can help with stress reduction and provide time for reflection and recharging. 

Mon, February 26 2024 17 Adar I 5784