~ This blog was written by Brooke Lamberti, BS, and clinically reviewed by Jason Kuna, LPC. ~
National Mental Health Screening Week is a beacon of hope and understanding in mental health. It’s a week dedicated to promoting awareness and screening of mental health conditions. One common concern many individuals face is distinguishing between typical stressors and potential signs of a mental illness.
In other words, you may ask yourself, “Do I have a mental illness, or am I overreacting?” This delicate topic requires a compassionate approach to address the self-doubt and worries that often accompany these thoughts. In this blog, we aim to shed light on this concern in a caring and informative manner.
Understanding the Spectrum of Mental Illness
Mental health exists on a spectrum, with everyone experiencing ups and downs in response to life’s challenges. It’s natural to feel stressed, anxious, or down at times. However, when these feelings persist, interfere with your daily life, or escalate, it may indicate a mental health condition.
Signs of Mental Illness
Understanding the various types of mental illnesses and their symptoms can provide a clearer picture of what you or a loved one might be experiencing. Below are some common mental health disorders along with their symptoms:
Depression is more than just feeling sad or going through a rough patch. It’s a serious mental health condition that requires understanding and medical care. Some symptoms include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite and sleep
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Anxiety Disorder Symptoms
Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive fear or anxiety that interferes with daily activities. They include disorders like Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, and Social Anxiety Disorder, among others. Common symptoms are:
- Excessive worry or fear
- Feeling nervous or restless
- Rapid heartbeat
- Sweating or trembling
- Being easily fatigued
- Trouble concentrating
- Sleep disturbances
Bipolar Disorder Symptoms
Bipolar disorder causes dramatic high and low mood swings, known as manic and depressive episodes. Symptoms can include:
- Manic episodes: Increased energy, euphoria, reduced need for sleep, impulsivity, irritability, and reckless behavior.
- Depressive episodes: Sadness, hopelessness, lack of energy, anxiety, changes in sleep and appetite, feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD is characterized by persistent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors or mental acts (compulsions). Symptoms include:
- Excessive cleaning or handwashing
- Ordering and arranging things in a particular way
- Repeatedly checking on things
- Compulsive counting
- Fear of germs or contamination
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Symptoms
PTSD can develop after an individual has been exposed to a traumatic event. Symptoms may include:
- Flashbacks or reliving the traumatic event
- Avoidance of places, people, or activities that remind of the trauma
- Negative changes in thinking and mood
- Changes in emotional reactions, including irritability, outbursts of anger, and being easily startled
Eating Disorder Symptoms
Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder, involve preoccupation with food, body weight, and shape. However, this list is not all-inclusive. If you believe you may have an unhealthy image of food and your body, it is best to be diagnosed by a mental health professional. Symptoms may include:
- Extreme restrictions on food intake or overeating
- Excessive exercise
- A distorted body image
- Intense fear of gaining weight
Not everyone will experience the same symptoms. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s essential to seek professional help.
The Importance of Mental Health Screening
National Mental Health Screening Week emphasizes the significance of early detection and intervention. Screening is a step towards understanding your mental health better. It’s a non-invasive, anonymous, and quick way to check in with yourself. Many online resources provide free screenings, and while they are not a substitute for a professional diagnosis, they can be a starting point for a conversation with a healthcare provider.
Seeking Professional Help
Consulting with a mental health professional is the best course of action if you’re concerned about your mental health. They can diagnose accurately and suggest a treatment plan tailored to your needs. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Dr. John G. Kuna and Associates is here to help you take the next step in your healing journey. Whatever your mental illness, we’re here and ready to help. We offer online and in-person mental health therapy with licensed therapists and psychologists so you can get the help you deserve. Contact us today to learn more about online therapy in Pennsylvania.
National Mental Health Resources
It’s crucial to have access to reliable resources when it comes to mental health. Below are some reputable sources where you can find support, information, and professional help:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
- Crisis Text Line:
- National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):
- Mental Health America (MHA):
- Website: www.mhanational.org
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):
Creating a Supportive Environment
It’s crucial to foster a supportive environment for individuals facing mental health concerns. Encouragement from loved ones, destigmatization of mental health issues, and access to professional help are vital steps towards a more understanding and compassionate society.
When Is National Mental Health Screening Week?
National Mental Health Screening Week is observed on the first week of October every year or October 1-7th. This initiative by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) aims to provide accessible mental health screenings to the public, raise awareness about mental health issues, and provide resources for individuals to seek further support if needed.
National Mental Health Screening Week serves as a reminder that mental health is as crucial as physical health. It’s an opportunity to address concerns, seek professional advice, and foster a culture of understanding and compassion towards mental health issues. Remember, it’s always better to seek help when in doubt, and there’s a community ready to support you every step of the way.