Updated: Jul 22
After speaking at a Mental Health Conference one of the most asked questions I heard was "What are some of the signs that I should be looking for?"
In this blog I will talk about some of the different things to look for with someone you might think is facing mental health issues or is going through something traumatic in their life. (Divorce, loss of a loved one, job loss)
When it comes to our loved ones some of these signs you will see and not want to believe. We never want to believe that someone we love so much would be thinking of suicide or harming themselves, but these are the people you should be looking after the most because you usually know their body language and the way they speak better than anyone.
Trust your instincts if something about someone doesn't seem right with them, that's the time to take action and start asking questions.
Changes in behavior: Noticeable and persistent changes in a person's behavior, such as withdrawal from social activities they were always interested in. Mood swings of all types. Anger, sadness, anxiety, and fear. Watch for mood swings in the form of extreme happiness and joy also. Sometimes these will be cover up emotions, so no one thinks anything is wrong.
Emotional Distress: Like the mood swings from changes in behavior, emotional distress will be seen through frequent or intense feelings of sadness, hopelessness, anxiety, fear and anger. In mood swings these behaviors may only last moments whereas in emotional distress these emotions can go on for extended times. (Days or weeks) Most of the time you will see this after a severe trauma. (Death of a loved one, break up after a relationship, loss of a job)
Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly: Mental health problems can affect a person's cognitive functioning. They may struggle to focus, make decisions, remember information, and experience a severe decline at work or in school. They will speak about feeling overwhelmed and everything in the world seems to be piling up on them. They will physically feel sore or muscle fatigue even though they may not work out or do anything physically demanding.
Changes in sleeping patterns: Noticeable changes in sleep patterns, such as insomnia or excessive sleep, can be indications of mental health changes. They may have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. If they start talking about frequent nightmares or vivid dreams that they have never had before. This is usually caused by feeling overwhelmed and the brain is trying to come up with a solution to a problem that they cannot solve. Unfortunately, most of the time they won't be able to tell you what the problem is because it seems to be everything in their life.
Physical Symptoms: Most physical symptoms will include unexplained changes in appetite or weight, persistent headaches or stomachaches, chronic fatigue or low energy levels, and unexplained aches and pains.
Please remember that these signs are not definitive proof of a mental health problem, these are simply signs to be aware of and if seen to take action on finding out what has caused these changes.
If you are concerned about someone's mental well-being, encourage them to seek support from a mental health expert. This will be the hardest thing to do because we feel like we can help our friend or loved one, but almost always we cannot be a part of the solution. It doesn't make sense, but the reality is our love is what gets in the way of providing the support they really need.
If you are someone reading this who is going through some shit right now in your life, please reach out to someone. The courage and strength it takes for you to reach out is an amazing power that not everyone has.
I also understand that you will reach out and won't get the help you need. KEEP REACHING OUT. Someone will listen and be the voice you need to hear. KEEP REACHING OUT. Someone doesn't see you as a burden. KEEP REACHING OUT. Someone needs to tell you their story so you can find yourself again.
KEEP REACHING OUT. BECAUSE YOU ARE WORTH IT.
Please share this with your family or friends as a check list so they will also know what to look for and take action.
Please share in the comments any signs that were missed in this blog. It's only working together that we can eliminate suicide.
Call 988 for help or assistance. Press 1 if you are a Veteran.
You can also text 988.