Not all emotional trials can be assuaged with a good book, a half a carton of late night ice-cream, or a good cry. Some distress runs deeper, and require the attention of a medical professional. Clinical depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder can be life-threatening illnesses. Be sure to contact a professional at the first sign of symptoms as outlined by the Mayo Clinic which include, but are not limited to the following:
- Feeling sad or down
- Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate
- Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
- Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
- Withdrawal from friends and activities
- Significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping
- Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations
Standard treatments may include outpatient counseling, inpatient treatment, and prescription medication. Treatment is based on individual needs. Beyond the standard treatments, there are other paths to inner peace that may surprise you. It is always best to start with a trained professional. They will often recommend the following as part of their treatment program:
An Emotional Support Dog
We have all heard of seeing eye dogs, more properly referred to as guide dogs. There are also hearing assist dogs. But many are unaware of the emotional support dog category. Therapy dogs have been in service for quite a while, and do a great service for many people with special needs.
Not just any dog can serve in this capacity. It is not just a sneaky way to get your pet on the plane for free. There are emotional support dog laws that clarify which dogs qualify, and how a person can qualify to have one. The following are general guidelines:
- The person helped must have a life-limiting disability.
- The dog must be trained to recognize and respond to the handler’s disability by doing either work or tasks.
- Third, the dog must not cause public disturbances.
You already knew that a dog could be a human’s best friend. But few people are aware that dogs can also be a part of clinical treatment for mental illness.
Social Media Time-out
Facebook can drive you crazy, literally. Social media can be a source of emotional distress. It can also be the catalyst for addiction. A number of people report intense FOMO (fear of missing out) with regard to social media feeds and timelines. They can’t put down their smartphones long enough to be productive. Not only does checking and posting updates take up too much time, the information coming from those feeds can cause depression, and worse.
Many have reported that taking a break from social media has improved their lives. The effects can be both immediate and profound. Even happy vacation photos can be a cause of stress and depression. When your feed is full of comments and images that make everyone else’s life look so much better than yours, you can start to feel like there is something wrong with you.
There are many ways social media can effect your mental health. Most of them are not good. One of the worst effects is that it can give you a false sense of friendship and connection, making it that much more challenging to connect to real people in the real world. Stepping away for a time and season can do a world of good.
A Healthy Diet
By now, we all know that a poor diet can lead to mental health issues. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that a healthy diet can have positive effects on mental health. The obvious repercussions of an unhealthy diet are physical health problems. Poor health is one of the leading causes of poor mental health.
Body and mind go together. While we like to treat the mind as a great mystery, the mind is what the brain does. And the brain is quite physical. Healthy minds do not come from unhealthy brains. Like any other part of the body, the brain needs plenty of oxygen and nutrients.
So when life becomes a bit too much, see a medical professional. And be prepared to add a therapy animal to your life, a social media time-out, and a healthier diet. There are many paths to better mental health.