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Learn the Signs

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Sometimes it isn’t so obvious that a friend is struggling emotionally. Balancing all of life’s demands – school, work, relationships – can be stressful for anyone. How can you tell whether a friend is just dealing with the everyday challenges of life or is struggling with a larger, more serious issue like depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, or an anxiety disorder that requires professional attention and treatment?

Here are some common signs that a friend needs help dealing with emotional issues or a mental health problem. It’s important to note that it’s time to get professional help if any of the below items seem to get more intense with time or persist for two or more weeks:

  • Apathy – neglecting obligations and avoiding social activities and gatherings, especially if the person is usually responsible and sociable
  • A lack of coping skills – ineffective or harmful behavior around day-to-day challenges, or an extreme emotional reaction to an event or situation that seems way out of proportion
  • Bouts of extreme “highs” – known as mania; may include rushed speech or thoughts, inability to sit still, poor judgment, sleeplessness and impulsive or risk-taking behaviors (like excessive spending or promiscuous sexual behavior)
  • Severe anxiety, stress or worrying
  • Constant feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Initiation of or increased use of alcohol and/or drugs
  • Expressing thoughts of harming themselves or someone else

Visit the fact pages for more information on warning signs and symptoms of some of the most common mental health problems: addiction, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and suicidal behavior.

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