10 Signs That You or a Loved One May Need Mental Health Support

Stephanie Pituc headshot
Mental Health
May 25, 2018

Asking for help when it comes to mental health can be a struggle for many. Today, mental health is being taken more seriously, especially given how much more we all know about neurobiology and how our bodies respond to both chronic and acute stress and how that affects our mental health.

The truth is, everyone would do better to take care of their mental health. Reaching out and talking with a professional or trusted friend can help break the cycle of isolation that anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues can create and start to build the support you need. At North Memorial Health, we are always working to make sure you have the right tools and treatments to live a healthy, well-balanced life.

You Deserve to be a Whole Person: Mind, Body, and Spirit

All stress affects our bodies, minds, emotions, and overall health and well-being. “Mind, body, and spirit are all connected,” says Dr. Stephanie Pituc, licensed psychologist. “When you talk about mental health, it’s just as much a part of a person’s overall well-being as any other health factor. We need a sense of being a whole person.”

“There is a misperception, especially in the Midwest, that we should be able to do it all and handle it all ourselves,” Dr. Pituc continues. “We tell ourselves we should have the time and mental capacity to handle all the stressful things in our lives, but I’m here to say no. We’re not made for this much stress and load.” In fact, she says, it’s that thinking that perpetuates a cycle of suffering, emotional distress, isolation, and more.

“A lot of times the way we’re reacting is a completely understandable response to something that seems overwhelming, threatening, scary, or challenging,” she adds. “Our approach is [to] not stigmatize the reaction, but to show compassion, to understand it, and pay attention to the signs.”

The biggest red flag would be if you have thoughts of harming yourself, or others, or suicide or death. Please seek help immediately if you are having these thoughts, no matter how seriously you think you may act on them.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety, Depression, and other Disorders

Signs of declining mental health can be sneaky, so here Dr. Pituc provides 10 signs, symptoms, and signals that you or a loved one may need mental health support. If you are struggling with one or many of these symptoms North Memorial Health has a wide variety of options to get you back on track, from support groups to primary care to in-hospital care.

1. You’re having sleep problems.
Research estimates up to 80 of people with depression report struggling with insomnia, or have early morning awakening, which is an often-overlooked but highly correlated sign, but highly correlated. If you’re having recurring nightmares or any other sleep disruptions—this one is a biggie that might point to anxiety or posttraumatic stress.

2. You experience a spontaneous change in appetite. Check in with yourself: Have you lost your appetite? Or are you eating much more than you usually do? Changes in appetite can be a sign of coping with excess stress.

3. Your moods have changed, change often, or not often enough. You could be experiencing lower mood than usual, or feeling blah more days than not. Be aware of swings in the other direction, too: There’s nothing wrong with being in a good mood, but if your moods are fueling any problematic decisions, or swinging drastically, it could be signs of a disorder.

4. You’re struggling with excessive fear. This can take the form of thoughts, worries, panic, and physiological body sensations of anxiety and fear. Ask yourself: Does your anxiety cause more stress than it helps cope with it? There’s a good sweet spot in managing anxiety, as the right amount of anxiety can motivate you, but benefits need to outweigh the costs.

5. You’re struggling with physical signs of stress. These clusters of symptoms vary from person to person. Stress can include general muscle tension, headaches, and upset stomach and GI distress. It can also worsen existing chronic medical conditions. Sometimes we communicate emotions and mental well-being through the body—this can be especially common in kids, but adults do it, too.

6. Your relationships are fraying. You might withdraw from social activities. You may feel disconnected. You may be finding yourself avoiding people and relationships that you normally value. You may feel guilty or ashamed about the disconnection, a sense of missing out, sadness, or loss.

7. You’re easily irritated. Irritability is commonly overlooked. You might be short with loved ones or have a hard time finding compassion. If you normally like helping people, but your reserves are tapped out, or you’re chronically cranky, argumentative, blaming, or unsympathetic to others—all point to a need for more support.

8. Your behavior is changing considerably. While it’s normal and fine to do things that bring you relief or pleasure—a glass of wine, shopping, surfing the web—too much of a good thing can impact you negatively. If it crosses the line from fun and leisure to escape of reality or stress, it’s time to talk to someone.

9. You’re struggling with your identity and purpose. This might also manifest as self-esteem issues, negative self-talk or self-image, or issues of body image.

10. You’re having trouble bouncing back. In general, humans are pretty resilient, but when we are having a hard time getting back up, or we are really worn down from having to get back up, that’s a sign that seeking help might be worthwhile.

If you recognize any of these signs in yourself or someone you care about, it is important to know you are not alone.

“We live in such a high-stress world, where disconnection and fear are promoted among us,” Dr. Pituc notes. “As humans we want and need connection and to feel safe and that our needs are being met. If you’re ticking off the above signs, it probably means some basic needs that you are entitled to are not being met.”

Mental Health Treatment, Support, and Care is Available to You

Research shows certain treatments and approaches help, but as mental health needs range, so do treatments. These can depend on genetics, environment, the phase of life you’re in, changes during your lifespan, personality, and more.

Services at North Memorial Health span from emergency behavioral medicine to inpatient psychiatry, partial hospital programs, intensive outpatient programs, outpatient groups, and regular individual therapy and psychiatry.

If you or a loved one needs a consultation, start at your primary care clinic, and we’ll tailor a plan for your specific needs.
Make an Appointment       Find a Doctor

You can always talk to your primary care provider at North Memorial Health, or call our general mental health scheduling at 763-581-5372 to get on the schedule with a therapist who can help.

We also offer support groups to help you process and connect with mental health professionals who will support you.

If you need immediate help, you have options:

You can go to the Emergency Room, call 911 or use crisis resources:

  • COPE, a mental health crisis line: 612-596-1223
  • Crisis Connection, a suicide hotline: 612-379-6363
  • MN Department of Human Services Crisis Text Service: Text “MN” to 741 741 , 24/7

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