“How to deal with a mentally unstable person” is a question most people would like to know the answer to. There is no simple way to determine if a person has a mental health issue, even though it may be apparent when someone is experiencing a difficult time. Sometimes knowledge is unnecessary. It’s more important to be kind to someone having trouble than to figure out what’s wrong with them.
Even though some mental health problems have similar symptoms, no two sick people behave the same. If you know a person well, you may notice changes in their mood or behavior. The World Health Organization says India has the most mental and behavioral disorders of any country. Every sixth Indian need help with their mental health, but the treatment gap for different mental health disorders range from 70% to 92%.
“I want to assist, but I have no idea how!” Perhaps this is how you currently feel. Maybe a family member or close friend is suffering, and you feel helpless. You don’t know what to do, and there appear to be more questions than answers. “What if they reject my assistance?” “What if I make the situation worse?” and “Can I even make a difference?”
It’s okay; many of us have been there, and it can be both frustrating and terrifying. In any case, we are not all trained therapists, are we? However, the most important thing right now is that you wish to assist. You have now taken the initial step. Let me now help you in going even further.
What is the Definition of Mental Health?
Sometimes, “mental health” indicates the absence of mental disorders. Mental health is being cognitively, behaviorally, and emotionally healthy. It is all about what individuals think, feel, and do.
Mental health or mental illness can impact daily functioning, interpersonal relationships, and physical health.
However, this link works in the opposite direction as well. Life circumstances, interpersonal relationships, and physical factors can contribute to mental illness.
Taking care of one’s mental health can preserve one’s capacity to enjoy life. This requires balancing life activities, responsibilities, and efforts to develop psychological resilience.
Stress, depression, and anxiety can all impact a person’s mental health and routine.
Doctors and health professionals recognize that many psychological disorders have physical origins, even though mental health is a common term among health professionals.
The World Health Organization (WHO) asserts:
“Mental health is a state of mental well-being that enables individuals to deal with life’s stresses, realize their potential, learn and work effectively, and make positive contributions to their communities.”
According to the World Health Organization, mental health is more than the absence of mental disorders or disabilities. Peak mental health involves not only the management of active conditions but also the maintenance of ongoing wellness and contentment.
It also emphasizes the importance of maintaining and restoring mental health on an individual, community, and societal level.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness estimates that nearly 1 in 5 adults in the United States experience mental health issues yearly.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2020, approximately 5.6% of American adults, or an estimated 14.2 million, will have a serious psychological disorder (NIMH).
Many people experience mental health issues on occasion. However, a mental health issue becomes a mental illness when persistent signs and symptoms cause recurrent stress and impair your ability to function.
A mental illness can make you miserable and cause difficulties in your daily life, including at school, work, and in relationships. Most symptoms can be managed with medication and psychotherapy (psychotherapy).
Risk Factors for Psychological Disorders
Everyone is at risk for developing a mental health disorder, regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic status, or race. In the United States and many of the developed world, mental disorders are among the leading causes of disability.
A person’s mental health can be affected by social and financial circumstances, adverse childhood experiences, biological factors, and underlying medical conditions.
Many people with mental health disorders suffer from multiple conditions at once.
Good mental health depends on a delicate balance of factors, and the fact that multiple factors may contribute to the development of these disorders is essential.
These variables can contribute to mental health problems.
Continuous Economic and Social Pressure
Possessing limited financial resources or belonging to a marginalized or persecuted racial or ethnic group can increase the likelihood of developing mental health disorders.
There are several socioeconomic causes of mental health conditions, including poverty and living on the outskirts of a large city, as described by Reliable Source.
In addition, the researchers described both flexible (modifiable) and inflexible (nonmodifiable) factors that influence the availability and quality of mental health treatment for specific populations.
The following are modifiable risk factors for mental disorders:
- Socioeconomic factors include the availability of employment in the area and a person’s level of social engagement.
- the quality of education, housing, and gender
Non-Modifiable Variables Consist Of:
Researchers discovered that being female nearly quadrupled the risk of poor mental health. In this study, those with a “weak economic status” scored the highest for mental health conditions.
Several studies have suggested how mental illnesses have affected the lives of various individuals. Not only the person but also their friend or a family member suffers. Moreover, mental health professionals have suggested that serious mental illness causes more lives than any disease.
According to credible sources, adverse childhood experiences such as child abuse, parental death, parental separation, and parental illness significantly impact growing children’s mental and physical health.
There are also associations between child maltreatment and other adverse events and several psychotic disorders. Additionally, these experiences make individuals susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The NIMH suggests that genetic family history can increase the likelihood of developing mental illness.
Certain genes and gene variants increase a person’s risk for mental health conditions. Nonetheless, numerous additional factors contribute to the emergence of these disorders.
A gene associated with a mental health disorder does not guarantee the development of the disorder. Similarly, individuals without a genetic link or a family history of mental illness can still experience mental health issues.
Cancer, diabetes, and chronic pain can contribute to the development of chronic stress and mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.
Different Types of Mental Disorders
Specific mental disorders are grouped together based on their shared characteristics. The given are examples of mental disorders:
- anxiety disorders
- mood disorders
- schizophrenia disorders
1. Anxiety Disorders
According to the American Association for Anxiety and Depression, anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental illness.
People with these conditions experience extreme anxiety or fear in response to specific objects or situations. Most individuals with an anxiety disorder attempt to avoid their anxiety-provoking triggers.
Some examples of anxiety disorders are provided below.
Chronic anxiety disorder or generalized anxiety disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is defined by excessive worry or fear that disrupts daily functioning.
In addition, the following physical symptoms may occur:
- Restlessness, fatigue, and poor concentration
- Muscle tension and interrupted sleep
GAD patients do not necessarily require a specific trigger for an episode of anxiety symptoms.
They may experience excessive anxiety in situations that do not pose an immediate threat, such as chores or appointments. A person with GAD may experience anxiety in the absence of any trigger.
People with panic disorder regularly experience panic attacks characterized by sudden, overwhelming fear or a sense of impending doom and death.
There are various forms of phobia:
- Simple phobia – Simple phobias may involve an exaggerated fear of particular objects, situations, or animals. Spider phobia is a typical example.
- Social phobia is a fear of being judged by others, also known as social phobia or social anxiety. Social phobics frequently limit their exposure to social environments.
- Agoraphobia – Agoraphobia refers to a fear of situations where escape may be difficult, such as being in an elevator or a train that is moving. This phobia is commonly misunderstood as the fear of being outdoors.
Phobias are profoundly individual, and physicians do not know every type. There could be thousands of phobias, and what may seem unusual to one person could be a life-altering issue for another.
OCD (Obsessive compulsive disorder)
Obsessions and compulsions define obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In other words, they experience constant, stressful thoughts and a strong desire to engage in repetitive behaviours, such as handwashing.
PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
A person can develop PTSD after experiencing or witnessing a highly stressful or traumatic event. During this type of event, the individual fears for their life or the lives of others. They may experience fear or a lack of control over the situation.
Consequently, these feelings of trauma and fear may contribute to PTSD.
2. Mood Disorders
Mood disorders are also referred to as affective disorders or depressive disorders.
People with these conditions typically experience either mania, excessive energy and happiness, or depression. These are examples of mood disorders:
- Major depression: A person with major depression has a constant low mood and loses interest in previously enjoyable activities and events (anhedonia). They may experience extended or extreme periods of sadness.
- Bipolar disorder: A person with bipolar disorder experiences abnormal shifts in mood, energy levels, levels of activity, and the capacity to continue with daily life. Manic phases are periods of elevated mood, whereas depressive phases are characterized by low mood. Learn more about the various types of bipolar disorder here.
- SAD: Seasonal affective disorder. The lack of daylight during the fall, winter and early spring months causes this major depression. It is most prevalent in regions far from the equator.
3. Schizophrenia Disorders
Frequently, the term schizophrenia refers to a spectrum of disorders characterized by psychotic and other severe symptoms. These are extremely intricate conditions.
According to the NIMH, schizophrenia symptoms typically appear between the ages of 16 and 30. The individual will have fragmented thoughts and may have difficulty processing information.
There are both negative and positive symptoms associated with schizophrenia. Positive symptoms include delusions, thought disorders, and hallucinations, whereas negative symptoms include withdrawal, lack of motivation, and a flat or inappropriate mood.
Early Signs and Symptoms
Indications and signs of mental illness can vary based on the disorder, the situation, and other variables. Symptoms of mental illness can affect emotions, thoughts, and behaviours.
Examples of symptoms and signs include:
- Feeling sad or down
- Confused reasoning or diminished concentration
- Excessive fears, anxieties, or feelings of guilt.
- Mood swings of extreme highs and lows
- Absenting oneself from friends and activities
- Significant fatigue, low energy, or difficulties sleeping
- Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia, and hallucinations are symptoms of schizophrenia.
- Incapacity to dealing with daily difficulties or stress
- Having difficulty comprehending and relating to situations and people
- Alcohol and drug abuse problems
- Major alterations in dietary patterns
- Sexual drive varies
- Excessive hostility, rage, or violence
- Suicidal ideation
- Sometimes, the physical manifestations of a mental health disorder include stomach pain, back pain, headaches, and other unexplained aches and pains.
- Mentally healthy individuals can adapt positively to life changes and stressful situations.
Mentally Healthy Individuals are Capable of the following:
- Effectively express their thoughts and feelings
- Accept love and affection.
- Give affection and compassion
- Accept and provide compliments
- Cooperate with and get along with others
- Respect and consider those around you
- Manage their desires
- Consider the results of actions
- Accept a certain amount of anxiety and annoyance
- Accept responsibility for your actions and choices
- Not attribute failures to others.
- Respect themselves and others
- Accept setbacks and realize that things will not always go their way.
- Utilize positive coping strategies to manage their stressors.
Everyone experiences stress, anxiety, and depression from time to time. Under extreme stress, even mentally healthy individuals can demonstrate ineffective coping mechanisms. After recovering from the initial shock, grief, or stress of a situation, mentally healthy people will eventually begin to apply their coping skills, which they already possess. This is typical.
Positive Coping Skills:
- Record your emotions and ideas on paper, such as in a journal.
- Engage in creative activities such as writing poetry, working on art, creating music, cooking, building something, completing an activity, pursuing a hobby, or acquiring a new skill.
- Utilize positive self-talk to help you see the positive side of a situation.
- Learn to forgive others when you are angry or upset
- Utilize one’s religious or spiritual convictions
- Perform physical activity or workouts
- Establishing realizable objectives and making plans for the future
- Meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and other relaxation techniques should be practiced.
- Attend religious services, engage in prayer, or consult clergy.
- Examine the situation objectively to be more optimistic and practical.
- Accept responsibility for your own actions and determine how to avoid repeating them in the future.
- Spend time with loved ones and make new connections.
Unfavourable Coping Skills:
- Excessive concern or preoccupation with a situation
- Self-blame for circumstances over which one has no control
- attempting to get even with someone who has wronged you
- Withdrawing from others and isolating oneself
- Oversleeping or not sleeping enough
- eating too much or not enough
- tobacco use or nicotine use
- Consuming alcohol
- Using drugs or medications to “numb the pain” and “help you forget.”
- Conducting impulsive actions (such as spending a lot of money, having unsafe sex, or making big decisions without carefully considering the consequences)
- Procrastinating and hoping things will improve while avoiding dealing with them.
How to Deal with a Mentally Unstable Person: Supporting a Loved One Through Mental Illness
Discover how you can help a loved one cope with mental illness.
Discover how you can assist a loved one in coping with a mental illness.
Watching a loved one struggle with mental illness symptoms can be difficult. Knowing how to effectively help and support a loved one can also be difficult.
Every person is unique, and situations vary greatly. Below are some suggestions that may assist you in approaching a concerned family member.
Identifying the Early Warning Signs
Signs may vary greatly. Examples include changes in sleep or appetite, withdrawal from social interactions, and difficulties with school or work performance. Warning Signs of Mental Illness: More Information Changes may have additional causes, such as an underlying medical condition.
Consultation with a medical professional can help determine which changes warrant concern. Untreated symptoms of mental illness can worsen over time, so it’s important to address concerns early on.
Contact the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by calling 988, texting 988, or chatting at 988lifeline.org if you or someone you know is at risk of hurting themselves or others or needs immediate assistance.
Beginning the Discussion
Beginning a conversation with the person you’re concerned about may be one of the most difficult but crucial steps. You are not required to be an expert. You need not possess all the answers. Express your concern and willingness to listen and be there for the individual.
Don’t be afraid to discuss it. Assure them that you care for them and will always be there for them. Use “I” statements. Try “I am concerned about you…” or “I would like you to consider speaking with a counsellor.” Avoid phrases such as “You are…”, “You must…”, and “You should…”
Try to demonstrate patience and concern. Avoid being critical of their stated beliefs and actions. Listen.
Encourage them to speak with a mental health care professional or their primary care physician, depending on where they are most willing to begin. Some individuals may benefit from comparing the situation to a common medical condition, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Wouldn’t they seek medical attention if they were afflicted with such conditions?
Remind them that asking for assistance is a sign of courage.
Educating Yourself Regarding Mental Health Disorders
Seek out opportunities to further your education. The greater your knowledge, the greater your ability to make informed suggestions to a loved one.
Consider your information sources carefully, especially when searching online. As with any topic, the quality of online information is highly variable.
Helping Address Barriers
Try to anticipate and assist with overcoming potential barriers to a person seeking assistance. For instance, determine what local resources are available in the individual’s immediate community. (See a list of useful resources to the right.)
Consider researching regional customs and particulars, such as business hours, locations, and insurance requirements. Assist in generating possible solutions to obstacles involving transportation, childcare, employer communication, etc.
Seeking Personal Support
While assisting a loved one, taking care of yourself physically and emotionally is essential. If you require assistance, you should actively seek it. Recognize and accept the limitations of your resources.
Victoria Maxwell, a blogger, writes: “When my mother was suffering from severe depression, mania, and anxiety, I was anxious and irritable. I required an individual outside the family with whom I could discuss my frustrations and pain without fear of upsetting her. A qualified therapist provides clarity, objectivity, unanticipated solutions, and a safe place to deal with the emotions arising from such difficult situations.”
Family support groups, such as those offered by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mental Health America (MHA), can be invaluable sources of information and mutual aid. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides both a training program (“Family-to-Family”) and ongoing peer-led support groups for family members.
NAMI Family-to-Family is a 12-session, no-cost educational program for families and friends of people with mental illness. It is an evidence-based program taught by family members with lived experience who NAMI has trained.
The NAMI Family Support Group is a peer-led support group for family members, caregivers, and loved ones of people with mental illness. They are free and discreet.
Being Committed to the Long Haul
Recovery from a mental health issue is rarely a simple procedure. There are typically ups and downs, periods of progress, and times of setbacks. Be prepared to offer your loved one long-term support and encouragement, not just during an immediate crisis. If your family member grants permission, you can collaborate with their care team’s professionals to provide support and participate in treatment planning.
Even if you believe your support and actions are not making a difference, they are likely for your friend or relative. Your loved one may be in too much pain to communicate.
8 Guidelines for Discussing Mental Health
1. Set aside time without interruptions.
It is essential to provide a distraction-free, open, and nonjudgmental environment.
2. Allow them to share as much or as little as they desire.
Speaking can require a great deal of faith and bravery. Allow them to direct the conversation at their own pace. Do not force them to disclose anything they are not prepared to discuss. You may be the first person they’ve been able to discuss this with.
3. Do not attempt to diagnose or second-guess their emotions.
You are likely not a medical professional, and while you may be willing to talk and offer support, you are not a trained counsellor. Try not to make assumptions about what is wrong or to offer your own diagnosis or solutions too quickly.
4. Keep questions open-ended
Say, “Why don’t you tell me how you’re feeling?” instead of “I can see that you’re feeling very down” Try to maintain a neutral tone. Give the person time to respond and avoid bombarding them with questions.
5. Discuss self-care
Discuss methods of de-stressing and self-care and inquire if they find anything useful. Exercising, consuming a nutritious diet, and obtaining a restful night’s sleep can protect mental health and promote well-being.
6. Pay close attention to what they say.
Repeat their words back to them to ensure you have understood them. You do not need to agree with what they are saying, but by demonstrating that you understand how they feel, you demonstrate that you respect their emotions.
7. Assist in seeking professional assistance and information on how to do so
You could offer to accompany them to the doctor or facilitate a conversation with a friend or family member. Try not to exert authority and permit them to make decisions.
8. Know your limitations
You will have your own limitations regarding the assistance you can provide. Additionally, it is essential to care for yourself. Give yourself time to rest and reflect on what they have said or what has occurred. Try to assist them in building a network of supportive friends, relatives, and mental health professionals.
If you believe they are in imminent danger or have injuries that require medical attention, you must act immediately to ensure their safety. Additional information on handling a crisis can be found below.
If you are concerned about a family member or close friend, they may not wish to speak with you. Try not to take this personally: communicating with a loved one can be difficult because they may be afraid of hurting you. It is essential to continue being open and honest with them and expressing your care. It may also be useful to provide them with information about organizations or individuals they can contact.