Signs of...

 
Struggling with mental health is common. The earlier you get treatment, the easier it will be to get better. See below for signs and descriptions of different mental health difficulties.
 

Depression

Depression can be unbearable, and it can really ruin your life if you don't get a handle on it. No one can understand until they go through it, which is why therapy is necessary. 

Depression is one diagnosis in a larger category of Depressive Disorders. There are different levels of depression depending on the person.  Below is a list of the more common signs of a depressive disorder (5th ed.; DSM–5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013).  Please keep in mind that it can be hard to identify symptoms of a depressive disorder if you are not a trained professional, especially when identifying symptoms in ourselves or loved ones. Often times, if you think something is wrong, you are right. Feel free to call with any questions about whether or not therapy is necessary.

Signs of Depression

  • Feeling sad, empty or hopeless most of the day nearly every day.

  • Self injury (also known as cutting). 

  • In children, being argumentative/irritable most of the day nearly every day

  •  Feeling like you don’t have any motivation to get your day going or get anything done

  • Not being able to get out of bed or staying in bed for long periods of time despite having other things to do

  • Feeling guilty about not being able to fulfill obligations due to depression

  •  Not being able to experience happiness/pleasure from people or activities you used to enjoy

  •  Consistent lack of energy or overwhelming fatigue

  • Tempter outbursts

  • Difficulty falling and/or staying asleep

  • Increased irritability and/or lack of tolerance for people/activities

  • Feeling worthless or that nothing you do is good

  • Frequent crying and/or feelings of sadness

  • Constant or frequent focus on past activities you regret or feel guilty about 

  • Decreased ability to focus and concentrate

  • Weight loss/ gain or appetite loss/gain

  • Marked distress the week before a female starts her period, the distress starts to get better within a few days after starting period and then goes away all together until 1 week prior to starting period

REFERENCE

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 

 

Bipolar

The term “bipolar” has become overused in our society today. Having a bipolar disorder is very different from having frequent or strong mood changes. While therapy would definitely be helpful to someone experiencing mood swings, this does not make someone “bipolar." 

Please keep in mind that it can be hard to recognize whether or not certain behaviors are signs of a bipolar disorder. If you think something could be wrong, it probably is. If you are not sure, feel free to call and consult regarding any questions you have. There is no fee for a phone consultation. 

Signs of Bipolar Disorder

  • Experiencing mania, which is-A distinct period of increased energy or elevated, expansive, or irritable mood and abnormally increased behaviors that are aimed at achieving specific goals.

  • During the distinct period of time described above, the person has:

  • Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity (thinks that he/she is more important than others, thinks he/she has a higher cause or more important purpose on Earth than other people)

  • Decreased need for sleep. In other words, a person goes for an abnormal amount of time without sleep and does not feel tired.

  • More talkative than usual or feels they have to keep talking

  • Racing thoughts

  • Easily distracted

  • Increase in goal directed activities that could include social activities, work related activities, sexual behaviors

  • Purposeless non goal directed behaviors

  • Excessive involvement in behaviors that have a high potential for painful consequences (for example, spending large sums of money to open a business, engaging in elicit sex multiples times over a short period of time, racking up excessive credit card debt)

REFERENCE

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 

Trauma

Unfortunately, oftentimes people go through awful experiences that interfere with their brains' abilities to function as they did prior to the trauma. Living with an untreated trauma disorder is extremely difficult and requires treatment. 

Trauma happens when someone: 

  • Is exposed to a life-threatening experience

  • Goes through a serious injury

  • Is sexually abused

  • Witnesses a traumatic event happening to someone else

  • Finds out that a close family member or friend went through trauma

  • Repeatedly experiences or witnesses trauma in the home or through one's employment (for example, a paramedic who is frequently exposed to fatalities brought on by gun violence)

 

Keep in mind that not everyone who goes through trauma ends up with a trauma-related disorder. Trauma-related disorders include (but are not limited to): Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and disorders brought on by abuse and/or neglect. It is very difficult to identify signs/symptoms of trauma disorders in ourselves and other people, especially loved ones. If you think something might be wrong, it is always best to reach out to a mental health professional and get your questions answered. There is no fee for a consultation via telephone at Guada Psychological Services PC.

 

Signs of Trauma-Related Disorders​

  • Experiencing trauma in one of the ways described in the bullet points above

  • Getting easily agitated by things that were not always agitating prior to the trauma

  • Being overly aware of the environment (hypervigilance)

  • Being "jumpy" 

  • Having difficulty focusing or concentrating 

  • Difficulty with sleep

  • Having bad dreams about or related to the trauma. In children, this could be frightening themes they cannot recognize.

  • Feeling like you have constant memories of the trauma that are intrusive or unwanted

  • Being distressed when seeing or hearing signs/symbols of the trauma

  • Flashbacks where you feel or act as if the traumatic event is recurring

  • In children, trauma themes can often be seen in the way that they play

  • Trying to avoid distressing thoughts and feelings related to the trauma

  • Changing lifestyle or behaviors in order to avoid people, places, events, etc related to the trauma

  • Inability to remember certain aspects of the trauma

  • Feeling guilty or blaming self for the trauma and/or being unrealistic about the trauma and the way it happened

  • Feeling detached or estranged from others or the world

  • Not being able to feel positive emotions (such as joy, hope, pride, happiness, excitement, etc)

  • Behaving in a way that is self-destructive or that leads to poor outcomes 

REFERENCE

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 

 
 

Anxiety

It can be difficult to identify signs of general anxiety in ourselves or other people if you're not a mental health professional. Please keep in mind, if you think something is wrong, you're probably right. If you are not sure, feel free to call and get feedback regarding the need (or lack of need) for therapy. There is no fee for a phone consultation. 

Signs of General Anxiety Disorder

  • Worrying or feeling concerned more often than not 

  • Difficulty controlling worry

  • Feeling keyed up/on edge

  • Fatigue

  • Feeling like your mind goes blank and/or difficulty with concentration

  • Irritable/crabby

  • Muscle tension

  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep

  • Restlessness

  • Feeling tired even though you slept

REFERENCE

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 

 

Please keep in mind that this list is by no means a complete list of the possible symptoms an individual with social anxiety can experience. It can be hard to identify signs of social anxiety disorder in ourselves and other people, especially with young people who are naturally self-conscious due to their stage of life.  It is always best to consult a mental health professional if you think something might be wrong. There is no fee for a consultation via telephone.  

Social Anxiety Disorder

 

Psychotic

Disorders

This category includes a wide range of diagnosis, including (but not limited to) Schizophrenia, Brief Psychotic Disorder, and Delusional Disorder. Below are signs related to diagnosis that are in the category of Schizophrenia Spectrum and Other Psychotic Disorders. Please keep in mind that it can be difficult to understand the symptoms associated with a psychotic disorder if you are not a mental health professional or familiar with the symptoms in some other way. If you think that you or someone you know might be experiencing any of the symptoms below, I recommend you reach out to a professional to get some assistance-it is always better to catch a mental health difficulty sooner rather than later. 

Signs of a Schizophrenia Spectrum &

Other Psychotic Disorders

  • Hallucinations-Seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting people/voices/things that are not present to others

  • Delusions-False beliefs (See below for a list of the different types of delusions people can experience)

  • Disorganized speech-Incoherent speech, speech that is easily derailed, or speech that does not make sense

  • Talking in metaphors 

  • Disorganized behavior 

  • Poor hygiene and/or regularly having a disheveled appearance

  • Lack of response to the environment

  • Diminished emotional expression

  • Lack of motivation or initiative

  • Depression

  • Mania (Click on the "BiPolar" link for a description of mania)

Types of delusions

  • Believing (falsely) that you have some great talent, insight, or made an important discovery

  • Believing (falsely) that another person is in love with you

  • Believing (falsely) that your spouse or partner is unfaithful

  • Believing (falsely) that you are being conspired against, cheated, spied on, followed, poisoned, drugged, harassed, or obstructed in the pursuit of long term goals

  • Believing (falsely) about bodily functions and sensations

  • Mixed delusion: when there are many different types of delusions

  • Unspecified delusion: when the delusional belief cannot be clearly determined

REFERENCE

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 

Signs of Social Anxiety Disorder

  • Fear or nervousness about situations where one could be scrutinized by others, such as having a conversation, meeting unfamiliar people, eating/drinking in front of others, giving a speech, etc

  • Fear that you will show anxiety symptoms and people will look down on you for that

  • The social situations always make the person feel scared/nervous

  • Social situations are avoided or endured with extreme discomfort

  • The fear and anxiety lasts for a long time

  • The fear/anxiety interferes with the way you live your life (social life) and fulfill responsibilities (school, family,work, etc)

REFERENCE

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 

 

Panic Attacks

and Panic Disorder

Panic and related disorders can cause major problems when it comes to fulfilling responsibilities and living a normal life. If you think you have difficulties with panic, you are probably right. 

Signs of a Panic Disorder

  • Unexpected panic attacks (see below for a description of a panic attack)

  • Concern that another panic attack might occur

  • Avoiding certain things or places in order to avoid having panic attacks

A panic attack is a period of intense fear and discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes, during which time four (or more) of the following take place:

  • Pounding/accelerated heartbeat

  • Sweating

  • Trembling/shaking

  • Shortness of breath

  • Fear of dying

  • Feeling like you can’t breathe

  • Chest pain/discomfort

  • Nausea or abdominal distress

  • Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed

  • Chills or heat sensations

  • Numbness or tingling feelings in body

  • Feeling like you are detached from yourself or not in reality

  • Feelings of fear that you are losing control or “going crazy“

REFERENCE

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 

 

Agoraphobia 

Agoraphobia is an anxiety disorder. Please keep in mind that the list below is by no means a complete list of the possible symptoms an individual can experience. It can be difficult to identify signs of agoraphobia in ourselves and in other people. Feel free to call with any questions about whether or not therapy is necessary for you or your loved one. There is no fee for a consultation via telephone.  

Signs of Agoraphobia

​​​

  • Fear of using public transportation (automobiles, planes, buses, etc)

  • Fear of being in open spaces (parking lots, marketplaces, bridges)

  • Fear of being in enclosed spaces (stores, concert halls, someone’s home, etc)

  • Fear of standing in line or being in a crowd

  • Fear of being outside of your home alone

  • Avoiding and fearing these situations (above) because escape might be difficult

  • Avoiding these situations out of fear that you will do something embarrassing

  • Avoiding these situations because of fear that a panic attack will develop

  • The feared situations are avoided and require that someone go through them with a companion or are endured with intense anxiety

REFERENCE

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 

OCD is an anxiety disorder. Please keep in mind that this list is by no means a complete list of the possible symptoms an individual can experience. Also, it can be very hard to identify compulsions and obsessions in ourselves and our loved ones if you are not a psychologist. Chances are, if you think something is wrong, you are right. Feel free to call with any questions about whether or not therapy is necessary. There is no fee for a consultation via telephone.

Obsessive

Compulsive

Disorder (OCD)

 

​Signs of OCD

​​

  • Thoughts, urges, or images that seem to intrude on your mind and that are distressing

  • A feeling that you continue to have thoughts, feelings, or urges that you do not want but cannot keep away

  • Attempts to suppress thoughts, urges, images, or feeling like you have to stop the urge by completing some routine or behavior

  • Repetitive behaviors or mental acts that you feel you have to do.

  • The behaviors or mental acts are done in order to reduce anxiety or to prevent something that you dread from happening. Please note that young people are often unable to explain why they are doing the behaviors or mental acts.

  • The behaviors, acts, or routines are time consuming and interfere with quality of life or ability to fulfill duties.

REFERENCE

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 

 

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are prevalent in the US and often go undetected. Many times, people assume that someone has to be extremely skinny to have an eating disorder, but this is not true. People who develop eating disorders can be any shape, size, gender, and ethnicity (Marques, Alegria, Becker, Chen, Fang, Chosak & Diniz, 2011). As you read through this information, keep in mind that it can be difficult to identify eating disorder symptoms, and it is always best to consult a mental health professional if there is any uncertainty. Feel free to call with any questions, there is no fee for a consultation via telephone.  

Signs of Anorexia

​​​

  • Not eating enough food required, leading to a significantly low body weight for one's age, sex, developmental phase, and physical health

  • Intense fear of gaining weight or of "getting fat" or exhibiting behaviors that interfere with weight gain despite having a significantly low weight

  • Irrational perceptions of one's body weight or shape

  • Body weight strongly influences one's self-evaluations

  • Not being able to recognize the seriousness of (current) low body weight. 

​Signs of Bulimia

​​​

  • Eating an amount of food that is definitely larger than what most people would eat in the same amount of time

  • A feeling that you cannot stop eating or control how much you are eating

  • Inappropriate efforts to prevent gaining weight, including vomiting, using laxatives, diuretics, fasting, or excessive exercise

  • Self-evaluation is strongly influenced by body shape and weight

​Signs of Binge Eating Disorder

​​*In binge eating disorder, the person does not vomit, use laxatives, or purge the calories consumed in another way. 

​​

  • Within a distinct amount of time, a person: 

    • Eats an amount of food that is larger than what most people would eat in a similar period of time under similar circumstances

    • Feels he/she cannot stop eating or control how much he/she is eating

​​

  • During the distinct amount of time described above, a person does at least 3 of the following: 

    • Eats rapidly

    • Eats until uncomfortably full

    • Eats large amounts of food when not hungry

    • Eats alone due to feeling ashamed about amount of food he/she is eating

    • Feels disgusted with themself, depressed, or very guilty afterward

  • The binge eating (described above) occurs at least once a week

REFERENCE

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing. 

 

Marques, L., Alegria, M., Becker, A. E., Chen, C.-n., Fang, A., Chosak, A., & Diniz, J. B. (2011). Comparative prevalence, correlates of impairment, and service utilization for eating disorders across US ethnic groups: implications for reducing ethnic disparities in health care access for eating disorders. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 44(5), 412-4120.

 

Bullying

What is the definition of a bully?

 

A bully typically continues to exhibit a behavior (emotionally or physically harming someone) on a repeated basis despite the victim's negative response. Please keep in mind that below is not a complete list of the possible signs of bullying. 

Bullying is a problem that many adolescents, teens and even adults face.  With the internet revolution, cyber bullying is now also a huge problem. Young people are especially vulnerable to developing mental disorders when bullied due to them being in a developmental period. 

 

Research has shown that bullying has damaging effects on mental health that can last into adulthood (Copeland, Wolke, Angold, & Costello, 2013). Unfortunately, sometimes people who get bullied don’t tell people who can assist them (such as parents, confidants, etc), which interferes with their ability to stop the bullying and go seek help.  

 

If you suspect that you or your loved one is showing signs of bullying or being bullied, reach out to a mental health professional as soon as possible. 

 

​Signs that Someone may be Getting Bullied

​​

  • Change in emotions without explanation

  • Decrease in self-esteem and/or feelings of helplessness

  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations

  • Decrease in motivation for schoolwork

  • Loss of interest in going to school

  • Refusal to go to school

  • Sadness without explanation

  • Self-destructive behaviors, such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide

  • Changes in eating habits

  • Unexplainable injuries

  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry

  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness

  • Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch

  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares

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