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.

Nonsuicidal Self Injury – Cutting to stop pain

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

Cutting – nonsuicidal self injury.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

What is cutting – Non-suicidal Self-Injury?

Non-suicidal self-injury often called cutting, is another of those troubling conditions that send people to hospitals, physical and mental hospitals. Intentional self-burning, head banging, hair pulling, hitting yourself and repetitive skin picking are other examples of this thing we call Non-suicidal self-injury. Non-suicidal self-injury causes a lot of suffering for those who do it and for those around them, and yet this problem, like anger, does not get the recognition of a separate diagnosis. FYI Hair pulling has gotten its own diagnosis called Trichotillomania.

Deliberate self-injury is a behavior. Like many behaviors, it can be misunderstood. If someone waves at you, they may be calling you over, they may be telling you to get away from where you are or it may be a way to say hello. It might even have another meaning. Self-injury is like that, a behavior, which may have different meanings.

Non-suicidal self-injury is a condition that has been researched and has been proposed for inclusion in the DSM as a recognizable mental illness. Currently, it is not a “stand-alone diagnosis.” Non-suicidal self-injury is listed in the back of the DSM-5 as a “condition for further study.”

If someone engages in non-suicidal self-injury, the kind we think is a mental illness, the most likely way it gets categorized is as a symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder. Sometimes it is a symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder or Borderline traits, sometimes not. Borderline Personality disorder is the only mental health condition that lists both suicide and Nonsuicidal self-injury as symptoms despite the high or increased rates of self-harm in other disorders like depression, bipolar and alcohol use disorders. First, the things Nonsuicidal self-injury is not and then what we or I think it is.

What Non-suicidal self-injury is not.

Non-suicidal self-injury is not simply a teen thing.

The kind of thing we mean when we talk about Non-suicidal self-injury, the one that gets diagnosed and treated is not a fad or a rite of passage. I know there are those who cut, tattoo or brand themselves because they want to scar their body to look cool or to impress their friends. This is not what we are talking about when we say Non-suicidal self-injury – the disease.

Nonsuicidal self-injury is not a request for attention.

Yes, some people do this behavior to get noticed or to get something they want. One way to differentiate this is to ask where they self-injury. Most people who seek attention cut in places that are clearly visible. Those who do it as a result of an emotional or mental issue cut or otherwise self-injure in places that are not visible, the stomach or the thighs and they often wear long sleeves, even in the heat of the summer, to cover the cuts. The distinction is that those who develop the illness Non-suicidal self-injury often try to hide their cutting.

What Nonsuicidal self-injury is.

A way to cope with emotional pain.

Transforming emotional pain into physical pain can seem like a way to escape that emotional pain. While it does work, at least some of the time it is not a desirable way to cope. Good coping mechanisms need to be not only effective but safe also. Treatments for Non-suicidal self-injury include lots of learning and practice of alternative coping skills sometimes referred to as recovery tools.

A way to cope with dissociation

Some people report they self-harm to feel or to feel real. This numbing out is a symptom of dissociation and related disorders. Dissociation is not always recognized for what it is. Dissociation needs treatment for what it is not just for the behaviors like anger or cutting.

If you live in chronic emotional numbness then the only time you may be able to feel anything is when you substitute physical pain for the constant numbing emotional hurts.

Non-suicidal self-injury is a way to regulate emotions.

Some people have difficulty regulating their emotions. They may have suffered traumas, grown up in a dysfunctional home or have personality characteristics that make them more prone to be overloaded with emotions. Take a look at the post Emotional Avalanches and Feelings Landslides which discusses how people can be suddenly swept away by feelings floods.

Cutting or other types of non-suicidal self-injury is one way some people cope with these feelings avalanches. Violent outburst is another way. The topic of violent outbursts and emotional regulation is covered in the series on “Anger Management.”

Rumination plays a major role in depression, anxiety, and anger as well as in causing emotional landslides.

Some of the links above may not be active yet. The bold-underlined terms mean that a post is up or will be coming shortly. I will try to get the links in here as the new articles post. If any links (the ones in blue) do not work let me know and I will work on fixing them.

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.