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How to care for loved ones with mental health problems
How to care for loved ones with mental health problems

Do not ignore the disease: it can threaten a person's life.

How to care for loved ones with mental health problems
How to care for loved ones with mental health problems

A mental disorder is a health condition in which there are changes in behavior, thinking, and expression of emotions. Stress, grief, or problems in your personal life, work, or family can lead to frustration.

Mental illnesses are successfully treated if they are noticed in time and asked for help. Therefore, it is worth taking action if your loved one suddenly starts behaving strangely. Perhaps he needs help.

What symptoms should alert you

Every mental illness has its own characteristics. It will not be possible to accurately determine the disorder on your own, the diagnosis can only be made by a psychotherapist or psychiatrist. But there are a few common symptoms that suggest a person has a mental health problem.

Here are signs that your loved one may be sick:

  • Lost interest in work, study, hobbies.
  • Sleeps too much or, conversely, suffers from insomnia.
  • Too emotional, behaves unusually: became irritable, withdrawn, crying over trifles.
  • Apathetic, he doesn't care about anything.
  • He started using alcohol or drugs, smoking, although he had no bad habits before.
  • His mood changes very quickly. He can laugh, and after a minute cry or get angry.
  • Eats little, refuses to eat.
  • Sensitive to smells, sounds and touch, they irritate him.
  • Cannot concentrate, thoughts and words are confused, there is no logic in the conversation.
  • He talks about death and suicide, about how tired of life.

If you notice one or more signs in someone close, try to help.

Why you can't ignore symptoms

Often, mental illness is not taken seriously, and their manifestations are attributed to a bad mood and a black streak in life. Perhaps this is because we do not notice the physical manifestations of the disease. And since a person is outwardly healthy, then everything is fine with him. But mental health is just as important as physical health.

Here are some reasons why you need to take care of your psyche.

Mental disorders weaken the body

They lead to serious consequences such as:

  • high blood pressure;
  • heart diseases;
  • excessive fullness;
  • asthma;
  • stomach problems;
  • weak immune system;
  • premature death.

Mental and physical health are closely related. You cannot separate them. If a person looks healthy, this does not mean that everything is fine with him.

Illness damages relationships with family, friends and colleagues

A person suffering from a mental disorder is more likely to avoid contact with people and withdraw from those with whom they have previously been close. The patient is sure that no one understands him, therefore he withdraws into himself. He ceases to have fun, to communicate with friends, does not go to work under various pretexts.

In addition, irritable behavior and frequent mood swings are unlikely to please anyone. Because of this, relationships with other people become strained, and quarrels often occur.

This gradually leads to social isolation.

The disorder is life threatening

Mental instability can drive a person to suicide. More than 90% of suicides and incomplete attempts are associated with mental illness.

Suicide is the last stage of the disease. Everything can start with selfharma and attempts to harm oneself. Selfharm means self-harm. A person cuts and burns the skin, beats off limbs to bruises.

But self-harm is not a prerequisite. If a person wants to die, he can do it quietly and unnoticed.

Selfharm is not a suicide attempt. On the contrary, it is a desire to overcome your mental pain and survive. A person commits suicide when it seems to him that nothing can help and relieve his pain.

How to help a loved one

1. Support

First of all, you need to talk to him and discuss the problem. But be careful - think carefully about the dialogue before you start. A person can misinterpret any of your phrases.

Here's how you can cheer up a person:

  • Tell him you love him and want to help.
  • Take care of him: make breakfast, take him to the movies, buy a little gift. Little things like that are very important.
  • If a loved one suspects that they are sick and feels inferior because of it, tell them that the disease does not make them a bad person.
  • Offer your help and ask what he needs. The needs of a person with a mental disorder may differ from yours. Better to clarify so as not to make things worse.
  • Listen carefully. Sharing your feelings is more important than receiving advice and guidance.
  • Be sympathetic to the patient's condition. He can act strange, lash out at you, and be rude. Don't be mad at him. Remember that these actions are dictated by the disease.

2. See a doctor

You will not force someone to heal, but you can push to this decision. Offer to see a doctor or go to the hospital together.

If your loved one refuses and says that he is not sick, try to convince him that the examination will not harm him in any way, but will calm you down. Patients who are able to make decisions on their own and are not dangerous to society are not forcibly hospitalized.

If you do not know where to start the examination and treatment, contact your therapist. He will write out a referral to a psychiatrist or psychotherapist, tell you how to behave at an appointment.

Important: if you try to commit suicide or harm other people, you need urgent hospitalization. Take the person to the hospital immediately or call an ambulance.

3. Study the disease

It is difficult to help someone when you do not know what you are facing. To better understand the feelings of a loved one, find information about their illness, read studies, visit support groups on social networks and forums.

For example:

  • Psysovet - here you can get psychological help for free, read stories of other people and the answers of experts.
  • Psychological forum PsycheForum - there are a lot of topics about various life problems and mental illnesses. You can chat with participants, create your own topic, get help from psychologists online.
  • is a portal with articles and recommendations, as well as success stories of depression treatment.
  • "Bipolar Association" - everything about bipolar disorder: articles, personal experience, literature, films.

4. Help yourself

Sometimes those who are close to the sick person also need psychological help, because living with a mentally ill person is stressful. A specialist will help you cope with fears and negative emotions.

What not to do

It is difficult to understand a mentally ill person. Therefore, even with good intentions, you need to be careful. He can be offended by any little thing that he normally would not pay attention to.

Here is a list of what not to do:

  • To impose. Offer your help, but don't press. If you see that a person is annoyed by this, do not insist.
  • Criticize and condemn. Even if you don't like the actions and decisions of your loved one, respect their choices. If his actions affect the rest of the family, the decision must be made jointly - let everyone speak out.
  • Devalue feelings and emotions. It cannot be said that his illness is not serious or that he is making it up.
  • Pretend not to notice anything. Denying the problem will not go away.
  • Kibitz. Better listen to the person and ask how you can help him. Advice can only be given when asked.

In conversation, avoid the following phrases:

  • "Everyone is sad, there is nothing wrong with that."
  • “It's all just in your head. Just stop thinking bad things."
  • "Don't get hung up on the negative."
  • "Be more positive."
  • "Why aren't you getting better?"
  • "There is always something wrong with you."
  • "You just need to find a job (soul mate, hobby)."

Your attention and support is really important to those who are sick. Try to be patient and understanding.