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Mental Health: Signs You May Need Help and How to Get It

June 21, 2019

By nature, mental and emotional health are very closely related. For example, if you have depression, your emotional reaction might be inappropriate to a situation. But you don’t have to be the one to figure this out — your doctor and mental health professionals can work with you to help determine where your problems might lie and how to best treat them.

Life isn’t always smooth sailing. Career roadblocks, family and marital difficulties, health concerns and the loss of loved ones can all create real day-to-day challenges and set our emotions into a tailspin. Feelings of sadness, grief and anger in such situations are normal, but sometimes it can be difficult to pull ourselves back up again. Depression and bipolar disorder can also start with no obvious reason. Though these situations can seem overwhelming, support is available to help you cope mentally and emotionally.

When to Reach Out

It can be difficult to know when negative feelings are simply a natural reaction to a bad situation — or whether professional help might be needed. In general, if your thoughts or emotional reactions are getting in the way of your work and relationships, it’s time to reach out for help. A mental health professional might be able to assist in these situations:

  • You’ve suffered a loss you can’t seem to get past.
  • You’re having regular headaches or other recurring health issues.
  • You’re not sleeping well or getting enough rest.
  • You’re having dark or suicidal thoughts, which is a sign to get help immediately

These symptoms and other signs could be the result of either mental or emotional health issues, which are actually two different aspects of our well-being. Here’s how they’re different:

  • Mental health refers to our ability to process information. Biochemical processes in the brain can be the cause of some mental health problems, like depression and bipolar disorder.
  • Emotional health relates to our ability to express feelings about information we receive. Anxiety and fear are examples of emotional health issues.
How to Get Help

If you’re feeling suicidal, you should seek immediate help from an emergency room or outreach organization like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. However, for non-emergency mental health concerns, your primary care physician is a good first resource. During this visit, your doctor will likely ask about any prescriptions or over-the-counter medications you might be taking because some drugs can have side effects that affect your mental health. You also can get referrals to local mental health professionals for help with therapy or appropriate medications.

Your health insurance plan may cover all or some of the costs related to visits with psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals. Medicare Part B also covers these services. Be sure to check with your insurer to understand your benefits and get a list of providers in your plan’s network.

For more help understanding mental health treatment options, see our article about finding the right mental care resources.