ABCs OF MENTAL HEALTH

Raise your mental health self-awareness by checking-in with yourself. Below is a list created by Ohio’s leading suicide prevention experts to help you gauge your emotional wellness and look out for potential signs of anxiety and/or depression.

A – Ask Yourself How You’re Feeling

Emotional Reactions

Anxiety, worry, and/or fear about the following:

Your own health and the health of those close to you

The health and welfare of those in other places and around the world, particularly for those in poorer areas or without medical care

Whether your employment, income, and benefits – including health insurance – will be affected

Your ability to get the things you need, from medications to groceries to personal care items

Whether you can provide adequate care for your children or other people in your care (such as an elderly parent or disabled family member)

Uncertainty about the future

Frustration over how long you will need to practice social distancing

Loneliness and boredom

Emotional extremes, such as anger, short-temperedness, or euphoria

Irritability and blaming others

Periods of panic

Depression, which may include feelings of hopelessness

Overwhelming sadness

Inability to enjoy activities

Feelings of guilt

Wanting to be alone

Not caring

Some individuals may experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); these include:

Intrusive distressing memories

Flashbacks, i.e., reliving traumatic events

Nightmares

Changes in thoughts and mood

Being easily startled

Physical Reactions

Low energy levels

Sleeping too much or not enough

Changes in appetite – either overeating or loss of appetite

Crying often

Stomachaches

Skin rashes

Headaches or body pain

Sweating or chills

Tremors (shaking) or muscle twitches

Being easily startled

Worsening of chronic health problems.

B – Be Aware of Signs & Symptoms


Signs & Symptoms of Anxiety


Occasional anxiety is an expected part of life. But anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as job performance and relationships. Symptoms include:

Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge

Being easily fatigued

Having difficulty concentrating; mind going blank

Being irritable

Having muscle tension

Difficulty controlling feelings of worry

Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep

Risk Factors of Anxiety


Researchers are finding that both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the risk of developing an anxiety disorder. Although the risk factors for each type of anxiety disorder can vary, some general risk factors for all types of anxiety disorders include:

Temperamental traits of shyness or behavioral inhibition in childhood

Exposure to stressful and negative life or environmental events in early childhood or adulthood

A history of anxiety or other mental illnesses in biological relatives

Some physical health conditions, such as thyroid problems or heart arrhythmias, or caffeine or other substances/medications, can produce or aggravate anxiety symptoms; a physical health examination is helpful in the evaluation of a possible anxiety disorder

Signs & Symptoms of Depression


If you have been experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression:

Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood

Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism

Irritability

Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness

Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities

Decreased energy or fatigue

Moving or talking more slowly

Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still

Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions

Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping

Appetite and/or weight changes

Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts

Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment

Not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom. Some people experience only a few symptoms while others may experience many.

Risk Factors for Depression


Personal or family history

Major life changes, trauma, or stress

Certain physical illness and medications

Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S. Current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.

Depression can happen at any age, and often begins in adulthood.

Depression, especially in midlife or older adults, can co-occur with other serious medical illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease. These conditions are often worse when depression is present. Sometimes medications taken for these physical illnesses may cause side effects that contribute to depression. A doctor experienced in treating these complicated illnesses can help work out the best treatment strategy.

Signs and Symptoms of Suicide


Suicide is a major public health concern in Ohio. Suicide is complicated and tragic, but it is often preventable. Knowing the warning signs for suicide and how to get help can help save lives, especially during a crisis like COVID-19.

The behaviors listed below may be signs that someone is thinking about suicide.

Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves

Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live

Making a plan or looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching for lethal methods online, stockpiling pills, or buying a gun

Talking about great guilt or shame

Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions

Feeling unbearable pain (emotional pain or physical pain)

Talking about being a burden to others

Using alcohol or drugs more often

Acting anxious or agitated

Withdrawing from family and friends

Changing eating and/or sleeping habits

Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

Taking great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast

Talking or thinking about death often

Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy

Giving away important possessions

Saying goodbye to friends and family

Putting affairs in order, making a will

If these warning signs apply to you or someone you know, get help as soon as possible, particularly if the behavior is new or has increased recently.

Risk Factors for Suicide
Suicide does not discriminate. People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk. Suicidal behavior is complex, and there is no single cause. Many different factors contribute to someone making a suicide attempt. But people most at risk tend to share specific characteristics. The main risk factors for suicide are:

Depression, other mental disorders, or substance abuse disorder

Certain medical conditions

Chronic pain

A prior suicide attempt

Family history of a mental disorder or substance abuse

Family history of suicide

Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse

Having guns or other firearms in the home

Having recently been released from prison or jail

Being exposed to others’ suicidal behavior, such as that of family members, peers, or celebrities

Many people have some of these risk factors but do not attempt suicide. It is important to note that suicide is not a normal response to stress. Suicidal thoughts or actions are a sign of extreme distress, not a harmless bid for attention, and should not be ignored. If someone is in immediate danger, call 911.

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing any of the above signs of anxiety, depression, or suicide, seek help from a professional.

C – Care for Yourself & Others


Care for Yourself & Others
Make sure self-care remains a priority.

Check in on five people every day and ask how they are doing.

If you need support, are feeling lonely and overwhelmed with emotions such as sadness, depression, anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or someone else, call 911 or check the list of emergency contact.

Caring for yourself and others is not about reassuring statements or the belief that the best way to cope during these times to just focus on the positive and push away the negative. It is important to care for yourself and others in a way that supports a growth mindset, is intentional, and is action oriented.

Source: https://mha.ohio.gov/community-partners/schools/resources/abcs-of-mental health#:~:text=The%20ABCs%20of%20Mental%20Health,these%20messages%20within%20your%20community.


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