How to Know When Your Loved One Needs Residential Mental Health Treatment

Whether your loved one has been diagnosed with and managing a mental health disorder for years, or this might be the first manifestation of their illness, it can be hard to know when they’re struggling. There are several signs you can look for, which generally fall into the category of changes in behavior, whether gradual or sudden. After you’d identified the need for treatment, steps can be taken to move forward and seek the help they need to get back to wellness.

 

Elin gauged her husband’s well-being by the way he poured his coffee in the morning. An artisanal coffee roaster, he knew everything there was to know about the beans he brewed each day: whether they were fair-trade certified, single-origin, roasted in a small batch, or just plain organically grown. He was a guru, and making a cup was his morning devotional. That’s how Elin knew that something was wrong. At first, it was just that his hands trembled when he poured, but eventually, he started skipping his coffee entirely.

One out of every seventeen people lives with a serious mental illness, and Elin’s husband is one of them. Before they learned that it was a combination of major depressive disorder and anxiety-induced agoraphobia, Elin just thought that her husband was growing quieter and more reserved as he aged. He seemed to go out of his way to be alone, and he even bailed on social engagements with friends that they’d planned months in advance. He slept less, and when he did sleep, he tossed and turned incessantly. He was reluctant to go outside, and at one point, Elin realized he hadn’t left the house in several days. Eventually, they came to terms with the fact that these changes he was experiencing weren’t trivial; they were parts of a major mental health episode, and they were more than the two could handle alone.

Reading the Signs: What to Look for When You Think a Loved One Is Struggling

With Elin’s husband, the signs were obvious, but in some cases, the signs may be harder to read. How can you tell if someone you love is struggling, especially if they live with a chronic mental health condition? People who live with persistent mental health challenges are often skilled at hiding them, and in those cases, it may be much harder to gauge whether they need your support. Like most things, it depends on the situation (and what your loved one is struggling with), but there are some lifestyle and behavioral changes that you can look out for—and that could indicate that it’s time to seek professional help.

  • Their sleep habits change. They sleep less or perhaps more than they usually do—both can be symptoms of depression. The important indicator is how much they sleep when they’re feeling well, because it can be used as a barometer when that pattern changes.
  • Their diet or their eating habits change. As with sleep, either a prolonged increase or decrease in someone’s regular caloric intake can be a sign of an underlying mental health issue. Additionally, if you notice that they turn to food in times of intense stress or sadness, they may be struggling with emotional eating, and that’s a good sign that their emotional needs aren’t being met.
  • They lose interest in things they used to love. Elin knew that something was wrong when her husband stopped caring about coffee. It almost seems silly to think of it that way, but because Elin knew that coffee, as simple as it is, gave her husband a lot of joy, she knew that he was in trouble when he was no longer interested in brewing it.
  • They start to isolate themselves from others. They might cancel plans with friends and family last minute, or they might withdraw from friends and not make plans at all. Anxiety and panic disorders often manifest this way: when the idea of being in a situation that might be anxiety-producing overwhelms someone, they find ways to avoid it entirely.
  • Their personal grooming or hygiene deteriorates. As with sleeping and eating habits, it’s important to compare any changes to your loved one’s baseline. It could be that they appear unusually disheveled or poorly put together; this may be a sign for concern. On the other side of the spectrum, they could take a sudden, urgent interest in renovating their wardrobe or altering their personal appearance. Despite how little it’s talked about, shopping addiction is a real thing, and it’s often used as a coping skill or as a way to exert control over a life that feels otherwise uncontrollable.

Moving Forward Once You and a Loved One Have Identified a Mental Health Need

Ultimately, the important thing is to notice changes—even if they happen over a long period of time. For many, reaching a mental health crisis point comes after years of sticking it out and making it work. Though it’s certainly becoming more common for people to speak openly about living with mental illnesses, it’s still hugely stigmatized, and admitting to others that they struggle can make the individual feel as if they’re sabotaging themselves, especially with regards to new people and new prospects in their lives.

It’s understandable, then, why many people never speak up and never get the care they need. At Bridges to Recovery, we treat our clients with compassion and empathy and a deep sense of respect for the struggles they’ve lived through. It’s not easy to see that you need help, and it might be even harder to recognize that in someone you love. We work closely with clients and their families to help them get back on track, back to their lives, and back to the things that give them the most joy.

Bridges to Recovery offers individualized mental health treatment to those who struggle with severe mental health challenges as well as co-occurring disorders. If you think your loved one could benefit from our comprehensive mental health program, connect with us today to learn more about how we can help them start to map out the road to sustained well-being.

 

Lead Image Source: Unsplash user Sebastian Pichler