If you have a friend or family member you think is mentally unstable, here are the behaviours/signs you should watch out for that would help confirm your suspicion and get them the necessary help.

1. Panic attacks

Panic attacks are a type of fear response. They’re an exaggeration of your body’s normal response to danger, stress or excitement. During a panic attack physical symptoms can build up very quickly, including: a pounding heartbeat or chest pains, sweating and nausea (feeling sick), feeling faint and unable to breathe, shaky limbs, or feeling like your legs are turning to jelly. Feeling as if you aren’t connected to your body.

2. Suicidal feelings

Many people experience suicidal thoughts and feelings at some point in their life. They can be very unpleasant, intrusive and frightening, but having thoughts about suicide doesn’t necessarily mean that you intend to act on them. Most people don’t go on to attempt to take their own lives. However, if you feel you may act on suicidal feelings and become unable to keep yourself safe then this a mental health emergency.


Self-harm is when you hurt yourself as a way of dealing with very difficult feelings, painful memories or overwhelming situations and experiences. You may not know why you self-harm, but it can be a means of expressing feelings that you can’t put into words or think clearly about.

4. Psychosis

Psychosis (also called a psychotic experience or psychotic episode) is when you perceive or interpret reality in a very different way from people around you. The most common types of psychosis are: hallucinations, such as hearing voices or having visions delusions, such as paranoia or delusions of grandeur. Psychosis affects people in different ways. You might experience it once, have short episodes throughout your life, or live with it most of the time. It’s also possible to have a psychotic experience without ever being diagnosed with a particular mental health problem. Some people have a positive experience of psychosis. You may find it comforting, or feel that it helps you understand the world or makes you more creative.

Warning Signs:

1. A Change in Personality. If someone is acting like a very different person, or not acting or feeling like themselves, this is a warning sign.
2. Uncharacteristic Anxiety, Anger, or Moodiness. Severe changes in emotion are a cause for alarm, especially if they are persistent.
3. Social Withdrawal and Isolation. If an individual is “closing off” socially, canceling social engagements, or spending too much time alone, this is a serious warning sign of emotional or mental health issues.
4. Lack of Self-Care or Risky Behaviors. Persons with mental health issues often lose concern over their own health and well-being, engaging in risky behaviors like drinking and drug use. In addition, a lack of hygiene, or lack of concern with appearance, may be indicative of a mental health issue.
5. A Sense of Hopelessness or Feeling Overwhelmed. Mental health difficulties often cause people to give up—to feel like life is just too hard or that they will never feel “normal” again.
Feeling very sad, withdrawn or unmotivated for more than two weeks.

In Adults, Young Adults and adolescents
• 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
• Strange thoughts (delusions)
• Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
• Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
• Suicidal thoughts
• Numerous unexplained physical ailments
• Substance use
• Out-of-control, risk-taking behaviors.
• Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason, sometimes with a racing heart or fast breathing.
• Not eating, throwing up or using laxatives to lose weight; significant weight loss or weight gain.
• Severe mood swings causing problems in relationships.
• Excess use of drugs or alcohol.
• Drastic changes in behavior, personality or sleeping habits.
• Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still.
• Intense worries or fears getting in the way of daily activities like hanging out with friends or going to classes.
In Older Children and Pre-Adolescents:
• Substance use
• Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
• Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
• Excessive complaints of physical ailments
• Changes in ability to manage responsibilities – at home and/or at school
• Defiance of authority, truancy, theft, and/or vandalism
• Intense fear
• 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
• Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
• Excessive worry or anxiety (i.e. refusing to go to bed or school)
• Hyperactivity
• Persistent nightmares
• Persistent disobedience or aggression
• Frequent temper tantrums.


What Is Psycho-social Treatment?
Psycho-social treatment is a multidisciplinary team approach. This means that you will be a part of your family member’s treatment, as the cooperation of the family and the patient is very important. The care will need to be continuous, and the environment will need to meet the needs of the individual with the behavioral or psychological problems. The family will need to provide timely access to care, to reduce psycho-social stress, and to increase support. The residence will need to meet the functional level of the patient, and the environment should be as nonrestrictive as possible.

Families can change the environment of the patient, which can help. For example, changing activities to make them easier or changing the physical environment can reduce some behavior issues. The family needs to discuss ways to manage the behavioral or psychological condition. Social and communication skills training is normally part of this process. Reinforcement procedures can help interrupt problem behaviors and reinforce positive behaviors.

How Can I Deal with Behavioral Issues?
Some problems can be helped with simple home strategies. For those with trouble sleeping, a regular bedtime routine can help. Restricting caffeine, promoting exercise, and avoiding hunger at bedtime may make it easier to sleep. For those with weight gain issues, making sure to watch signs of weight gain carefully when taking new medications is important. Structured meals, eating the right foods, and providing and encouraging fun exercises are important as well.

Accept your feelings
Despite the different symptoms and types of mental illnesses, many families who have a loved one with mental illness, share similar experiences. You may find yourself denying the warning signs, worrying what other people will think because of the stigma, or wondering what caused your loved one to become ill. Accept that these feelings are normal and common among families going through similar situations. Find out all you can about your loved one’s illness by reading and talking with mental health professionals. Share what you have learned with others.

• Handling unusual behavior
The outward signs of a mental illness are often behavioral. A person may be extremely quiet or withdrawn. Conversely, he or she may burst into tears, have great anxiety or have outbursts of anger.
Even after treatment has started, some individuals with a mental illness can exhibit anti-social behaviors. When in public, these behaviors can be disruptive and difficult to accept. The next time you and your family member visit your doctor or mental health professional, discuss these behaviors and develop a strategy for coping.
Your family member’s behavior may be as dismaying to them as it is to you. Ask questions, listen with an open mind and be there to support them.
• Establishing a support network
Whenever possible, seek support from friends and family members. If you feel you cannot discuss your situation with friends or other family members, find a self-help or support group. These groups provide an opportunity for you to talk to other people who are experiencing the same type of problems. They can listen and offer valuable advice.
• Seeking counseling
Therapy can be beneficial for both the individual with mental illness and other family members. A mental health professional can suggest ways to cope and better understand your loved one’s illness.
When looking for a therapist, be patient and talk to a few professionals so you can choose the person that is right for you and your family. It may take time until you are comfortable, but in the long run you will be glad you sought help.
• Taking time out
It is common for the person with the mental illness to become the focus of family life. When this happens, other members of the family may feel ignored or resentful. Some may find it difficult to pursue their own interests.
If you are the caregiver, you need some time for yourself. Schedule time away to prevent becoming frustrated or angry. If you schedule time for yourself it will help you to keep things in perspective and you may have more patience and compassion for coping or helping your loved one. Being physically and emotionally healthy helps you to help others.
• Will Medication Be Prescribed?
Medication is most likely to be prescribed when the presence of an identifiable diagnosis is possible. If that is not possible, treatment should focus on the specific behavioral problems, which may or may not be controlled with the use of medication. Individuals with intellectual disability who take medications will need to be monitored to prevent drug interactions, as they may end up on more medications than the general population.

Some strategies for medication delivery include:
Keeping the medication regiment as easy as possible. This could mean once-a-day pills or extended-release pills.
Start will smaller amounts of medications
Avoid drug changes unless they are necessary

Medication will likely be provided if an individual is diagnosed with:
Bipolar disorder, manic or depressed
Major depressive disorder
Psychotic disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Panic disorder



Thank you for stopping by for some Health Guide with – Oyebisi Oyelami

IG – @queenitee

See you next time. 

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