Reasons to get mental health help now!

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Mental Health or Mental Illness

Mental Health or Mental Illness?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Some emotional problems need immediate attention.

There are some mental and emotional problems that shouldn’t be ignored.  Sometimes people think that if they’d just wait, the problem will go away all on its own.  Other people believe that by asking for help and let the problem get control of them. Unfortunately, many serious emotional problems get worse if they’re not attended to.  When should you wait to see if the problem resolves itself?  Which are the times that you need to take immediate action?

Here is my list of the times when you shouldn’t wait to see if a mental or emotional problem will get better. If you or someone you know is having any of the problems listed below don’t wait, seek help immediately.

Suicidal thoughts.

When someone is having thoughts of killing themselves, you should take immediate action.  Some people believe that when a person talks about suicide they won’t really do it.  That just is not true.  If someone you know has mentioned their thoughts of suicide, now is the time to take action.  If you are having these thoughts reach out for help immediately. One good resource is:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 1-800-273-8255.

Paranoia.

Paranoia is defined as an unreasonable fear.  When someone is becoming more and more afraid of situations or people around them they are at risk.  Paranoid people may take actions that put themselves or others at risk.

Hallucinations.

There are lots of reasons people might have hallucinations.  Hallucinations are a lot more complicated than just hearing voices or seeing things.  In another post, I wrote about other types of hallucinations. Hallucinations can be caused by a mental illness.  They can also be caused by drugs, both street drugs, and prescription medications.  Some other types of hallucinations may indicate a medical emergency.  When someone is hearing voices or other sounds, seeing things, feeling things crawling on their skin, or having another perceptual distortion, there’s no time to lose in getting them help.

Self-harm.

Besides suicidal behavior, there are other types of Self-harm.  Some people do self-injurious behavior, like cutting or burning themselves as a way to regulate emotions.  The Self-harming behaviors can get out of hand.  By Self-harm, I am not talking about everyone who does something dangerous or disturbing to their families.  If someone is doing things to themselves with the clear intention of hurting themselves, they need help.

Racing thoughts.

Many people have episodes racing thoughts.  Most of that time these turn out to be worry or excitement over upcoming events.  But when someone begins to experienced racing thoughts on a recurring basis this needs to be looked at by a professional.

Impulsive behavior that is out of character.

Many people have times in their life when they do something impulsively.  But if this impulsive behavior is dangerous, reckless, and completely out of character for that person, this is the time that they need help.

Need to punish yourself.

Someone who develops a need to punish themselves is at risk.  It’s not uncommon for someone to make a mistake and then continue to beat themselves up, at least mentally about that mistake.  But if this self-punishment moves from being upset and reminding themselves not to do this act again, to active self-injurious self-punishing behavior, this person needs help.

Sudden unexplained changes in sleep and appetite.

Changes in sleep and changes in appetite are two of the diagnostic criteria for depressive disorders.  There can also be changes in sleep and or appetite in a number of other mental illnesses.  But when someone suddenly develops unexplained changes in sleep or their appetite they need to seek professional assistance.

Overwhelming fear or anxiety.

A certain amount of fear or anxiety when you are in a risky or dangerous situation is normal.  Many people experience overwhelming, uncontrollable fear and intense anxiety about the future.  These kinds of fears or anxieties can interfere with people’s ability to live life.  Anxiety disorders rarely go away on their own.

Serious loss of motivation.

Serious loss of motivation is likely to be a symptom of a developing or worsening mental illness.  When someone loses their motivation it’s time to seek assistance.

Extreme loss of pleasure.

Extreme loss of pleasure, sometimes called anhedonia, is one of the symptoms of a serious depressive disorder.  People who were unable to feel any happiness or pleasure are at higher risk to develop depression or another serious mental illness.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

What is Amotivational Syndrome?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Unmotivated.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Have you lost your drive or your desire to do something?

Amotivational Syndrome is often connected with the smoking of marijuana.  This is something quite different from what we see in depression.  In depression, people lose the desire to do things they use to make them happy.  We call that loss of pleasure anhedonia.

In Amotivational Syndrome people seem to spend more time looking inward and contemplating things and less time actively doing them.  This syndrome was originally recognized in younger, marijuana smokers who were heavier daily users.

Does marijuana smoking cause loss of motivation?

Things that are, or were, associated with Amotivational Syndrome include the development of apathy and loss of ambition.  Heavy smokers just seem to become indifferent and stop caring about anything except smoking.  They seem to have fewer goals and decreased effectiveness.  Problems with attention and concentration have also been attributed to heavy marijuana smoking and Amotivational Syndrome.

Many of these characteristics are seen in daily, heavy, marijuana smokers.  What is unclear is whether the marijuana smoking causes this cluster of symptoms or whether those people who are low in motivation like to smoke marijuana.  At one point it was commonly accepted that some marijuana smokers are likely to suffer from Amotivational Syndrome.

Not all marijuana smokers are low in motivation.

Because of the many famous, popular people, who have been reported to be regular marijuana smokers, the connection between smoking marijuana and low motivation has come into question. It is unclear how common this condition is, or even if this is a valid syndrome.  Amotivational Syndrome has not been reported in countries other than the United States.  There’s some question whether Amotivational Syndrome is, in fact, a cultural rather than a mental condition.

Animals on marijuana don’t lose motivation.

Laboratory studies of both humans and animals have not found evidence of the Amotivational Syndrome for those using marijuana.  Amotivational Syndrome or loss of goals and direction has been found in many groups of young people who are not using marijuana on a regular basis.  This has led some writers to conclude that Amotivational Syndrome is a personality characteristic rather than the result of smoking marijuana.  It may be that those people with low motivation are attracted to using marijuana and other intoxicating substances.

One other possibility that has been suggested is that those people who are under the influence of drugs and alcohol or other substances may have low motivations to do anything while under the influence.  What we may be seeing in those people who were described as having Amotivational Syndrome may, in fact, be the effects of intoxication and withdrawal from marijuana or other substances.

As with the other things we are calling a mental illness or symptoms of a mental illness Amotivational Syndrome would need to interfere with your ability to work or go to school, your relationships, your enjoyable activities or cause you personal distress for it to be the focus of clinical attention. Otherwise, while you may have lost some motivation you will not be identified as someone needing clinical assistance.  If the only time you have low motivation is when you are under the influence of marijuana or another drug this would be diagnosed as drug intoxication.

For more on this and related topics see the other posts on counselorssoapbox.com under        Drug Use, Abuse, and Addiction

FYI These “What is” sometimes “What are” posts are my efforts to explain terms commonly used in Mental Health, Clinical Counseling, Substance Use Disorder Counseling, Psychology, Life Coaching, and related disciplines in a plain language way. Many are based on the new DSM-5; some of the older posts were based on the DSM-IV-TR, both published by the APA. For the more technical versions please consult the DSM or other appropriate references.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.