Father Caring For Daughter with Mental Illness

Better Together: Handling Mental Illness In The Family

Disorders that affect a person’s mood, behavior, or thoughts are classified as mental illnesses. Severe mental illnesses include bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, major depressive disorder, and panic disorder. Mental illness can be challenging, but it’s essential to remember that it is treatable. If you’re diagnosed with a mental disorder, you can live a fulfilled life as long as you treat your disorder.

Handling Mental Illness In The Family

When you’re diagnosed with a mental illness, it can be a shock. Not only is it surprising to you, but also your family and friends. Finally, obtaining a diagnosis and treatment can help relieve stress in your family. And it can help your family move forward and begin recovery. Family members are an excellent resource for patients diagnosed with mental illness. When you learn more about your diagnosis, you can help your family understand the diagnosis and treatment. Symptoms of mental illness vary, but common signs of mental illness are:

  • Withdrawing socially: Often, a person experiencing depression or anxiety will withdraw from the people around them. 
  • Trouble functioning at work or school: Many disorders affect your ability to focus or function correctly.
  • Memory problems: Disorders like ADHD and depression can affect your memory. Some disorders affect your thought process.
  • Disconnection from reality: Severe disorders, such as schizophrenia or dementia, can make a person seem disconnected from reality.
  • Habit changes: Many disorders affect your sleep schedule, eating habits, and hygiene.
  • Drug and alcohol abuse: Patients often self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.
  • Mood changes: It’s common to have mood swings, but when they become extreme, it could be a sign of mental illness.
  • Suicidal thoughts: If a friend or family member has thoughts of suicide, encourage them to seek treatment. It could indicate a severe disorder.

Staying calm when a friend or family member displays symptoms of mental illness is crucial. Imagining a worst-case scenario is easy, but signs of mental disorders overlap with other problems. If you’re panicked, your friend or family member will panic too. Sometimes, high-stress situations can affect a person’s mood. Grief, losing a job, or moving to a new area can contribute to mood changes. 

Even if your friend or family member hasn’t experienced high-stress situations, you should encourage them to seek help. Talk to them first and express concern without placing blame. If someone struggles with mental illness, avoid making them feel it’s their fault. If they struggle to find a therapist or doctor, offer help. 

If they don’t take your advice, consider talking to their physician. Physicians can’t share information due to privacy laws but can be alerted to potential mental illness. If their physician notices the same symptoms, they can refer your loved one to a mental health professional.

Reaching Out to a Mental Health Professional

Encourage your loved one to make an appointment with a mental health professional. If they’re reluctant to see a psychologist or therapist, suggest they visit their general practitioner for a referral. If they take your advice, they can schedule an appointment with Family Psychiatry & Therapy by calling us or scheduling online.

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Helene A. Miller / And Other Providers
Family Psychiatry and Therapy brings compassion, understanding, and skilled care to patients throughout New Jersey. Our team of mental health professionals focuses on providing a positive and uplifting experience that aids our patients in facing life’s toughest challenges.