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Mental health is as important as physical health

 
Therapist’s Corner with Dr Jules for September, 2018

Mental health is as important as physical health
 
Lately I have seen several couples I know facing mental illness in one partner. Mental health is often still a stigma and many people may prefer to overlook changes in their loved one for as long as possible. Mental health, however, is as important as physical health, and we should work to maintain it, and get it attended to by a relevant professional as soon as possible when there are signs that something isn’t right. Early intervention can help to reduce the severity of an illness, or perhaps stop it developing altogether.

The impact on the couple relationship of one partner with mental illness can be extremely stressful, sometimes leading to the breakdown of the relationship. Considering this, learning about some warning signs of mental illness can help you to act sooner rather than later:

* Dramatic changes in sleep pattern or appetite for food. If the partner is depressed they may often feel tired a lot of the time, regardless of how much more time they are spending in bed.

* Noticeable, prolonged changes in mood, particularly if the person is becoming depressed, irritable or anxious, or if they swing between mania and depression.

* The person starts to become withdrawn and take less enjoyment from activities they once wanted to participate in. They may also withdraw from social activity and friends.

* Functioning at work starts to drop, and the person seems less able to cope with daily problems and activities.

* Multiple physical ailments without obvious cause, such as vague aches and pains and head or stomach aches.

* You sex life together changes, or maybe disappears as your partner becomes withdrawn.

* Starts to show cognitive difficulties, such as difficulty thinking as clearly, poor memory and lack of concentration, or confused thinking.

* Seems to be losing touch with reality or the consequences of their behaviour, or displays delusional thinking.

* Starts abusing alcohol or drugs.

* Becomes a risk to his or her self, or to others or property, this includes talking about death, self-harm or suicide.

One or two of these symptoms alone don’t indicate a mental illness but may be worth an evaluation. Several symptoms at one time, particularly if they are causing a change in the ability to function daily or interact with others, should be discussed with your GP. If a person has suicidal thoughts or intent, or thoughts of harming others, then you should seek immediate attention.

If you have any concerns, contact your GP in the first instance to discuss the symptoms, and what steps should be taken in terms of assessment and possible treatment. There may be physical health problems with similar symptoms that need to be explored. If psychological treatment is necessary, then you should also discuss couples counselling as an adjunct therapy. Working with an experienced counsellor can help you to repair any damage caused by the symptoms, as well as adjust to the changing demands of your partner’s health.


Dr Jules

If the subject matter in this article resonates with you, then counselling might be a good option to help you to move forward. I offer a free 20-minute consultation so we can explore how I might be able to help you. 

More details are available on my website which can be found through this link - 

http://www.theenglishinformer.com/business_d/Julie-Askew-PhD

I am happy to answer your questions about the problems and struggles you are facing through this column. Please send your emails to: editor@theenglishinformer.com. No names are needed, but please clearly mark your email as ‘for Dr Jules’.

 



 

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