Weekly Wellness: March 9, 2015

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COLUMBIA - There can be quite a stigma attached to mental health issues. Some of the disorders that can come up in conversation are generally whispered about under breath or brushed aside as to not give undue attention to something so taboo.

But an estimated 54 million Americans suffer from some form of mental disorder in a given year? Not so taboo, after all.

Mental health is a level of psychological well-being which includes an individual's ability to enjoy life, and create a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states that the well-being of an individual is encompassed in the realization of their abilities, coping with normal stresses of life, productive work and contribution to their community.

If a person is struggling with his or her behavioral health, this may mean that they are experiencing:

  • Stress/anxiety
  • Depression
  • Relationship problems
  • Grief
  • Addiction
  • ADHD or other learning disabilities
  • Mood disorders
  • Eating disorders

Some of these mental health issues can be alleviated with medications and/or therapy. Others can be affected positively with activities such as exercise, getting proper sleep and eating proper nutrition.

While many mental health issues are common and temporary, at times based on situations and environment, there are others that can be more serious. It can be difficult for those experiencing these issues to recognize their own behavior(s). Sometimes it's a loved one who can recognize signs that could indicate a problem.

Mental Health America has created this list of potential warning signs that you can reference (see below). If you recognize any of these signs in a loved one, they may want to speak to a medical or mental health professional.
In adults:

  • Confused thinking
  • Prolonged depression (sadness or irritability)
  • Feelings of extreme highs and lows
  • Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
  • Social withdrawal
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Delusions or hallucinations
  • Increasing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Denial of obvious problems
  • Numerous unexplained physical ailments
  • Substance abuse

In older children and pre-adolescents:

Substance abuse
Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
Excessive complaints of physical ailments
Defiance of authority, truancy, theft, and/or vandalism
Intense fear of weight gain
Prolonged negative mood, often accompanied by poor appetite or thoughts of death
Frequent outbursts of anger

In younger children:

  • Changes in school performance
  • Poor grades despite strong efforts
  • Excessive worry or anxiety (i.e. refusing to go to bed or school)
  • Hyperactivity
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Persistent disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums


People often don't get the mental health services they need because they don't know where to start. Talk to your primary care doctor or another health professional about mental health problems. Ask them to connect you with the right mental health services.

If you do not have a health professional who is able to assist you, use these resources to find help for yourself and loved ones:

Emergency Medical Services - 911

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or Live Online Chat

SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline - 1-877-SAMHSA7 (1-877-726-4727)