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10 behaviours that should raise red flags

Mental illness affects people of all ages, cultures, races, income levels, and educational backgrounds. About 1 in 3 Canadians will experience either a mental illness or a substance use issue in their lifetime. According to the public health agency of Canada, 43% of Canadian adults and 57% of Canadian youth report difficulty coping with unexpected and difficult problems and dayto-day demands.

Despite the fact that mental illness is so common in Canada, only about half of those who have experienced either depression or anxiety have discussed the issue with a doctor or health professional. In fear of being stigmatized, ostracized, or discriminated against, too many people stay silent and suffer alone. So much so that suicide claims about 12 Canadian lives every day. Shockingly, suicide is still one of the leading causes of death amongst both men and women from adolescence to middle age.

The sooner one seeks help, the sooner one can commence a treatment plan and resume a happy, healthy life. Although seeking professional help may seem like an obvious decision, many people choose to wait until they are overwhelmed and significantly challenged by daily life before they reach out to a professional.


How do you know when it’s time to seek professional help? Here are a few potential indicators of a problem, and some behaviors and feelings that should raise a red flag. 


Stress often comes from many areas of life such as, work, home, school, and personal relationships. Occasional stress is normal and can be a motivating factor in your life (eg. the stress associated with a deadline is what motivates you to get to work).  Excessive and persistent stress over long periods of time, however, is often a sign of a problem that can have a significant negative impact on your physical and emotional health. From a mental health perspective, chronic stress can lead to difficulties with concentration, memory, mood, and the motivation to get things done. Increased stress often leads to absences from work, decreased professional performance, feelings of isolation, disturbed sleep patterns, unhealthy eating habits and negative thinking.



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Feeling overwhelmed at times is normal - life can get busy. The feeling of constantly being overwhelmed accompanied by feelings of sadness, crying, lethargy, or feelings of hopelessness are serious. Without proper support and guidance, these feelings typically become amplified.  When the intensity, duration, and frequency of these feelings are exaggerated - for example, if one feels totally overwhelmed most of the time, it is advisable to seek professional support.


It may be exciting to think about an upcoming event and totally normal to rethink an important decision. However, when most of your minds’ energy is consumed by negative thoughts or the same thoughts over and over again, this can become debilitating. Thoughts that begin with “What if….” or “I can’t believe this happened …” often persist over long periods of time and limit our ability to function throughout the day.



Emotional stress often has physical symptoms. For example, stress can lead to headaches, stomach problems, back and neck pain, or aching muscles. If you are experiencing physical pain or symptoms that cannot be explained physiologically, you may want to consider the fact that these symptoms may be manifestations of emotional distress.



There is a fine line between substance use, and substance abuse. An estimated 80% of Canadians drink alcohol to some degree, and for most, alcohol consumption does not pose a mental or physical health concern. Using alcohol or other substances to cope, numb, or “deal with” feelings of stress, sadness, anxiety, or insecurity is a potential indicator that an underlying problem may exist or one that may soon develop. While some turn to drugs or alcohol, others turn to unhealthy food, gambling, shopping, or other vices to “cope”. No matter the outlet, turing to potentially risky or addictive vices to help "deal with" negative feelings is a behaviour that is problematic and should be considered a warning sign.



When faced with continued negative thoughts or excessive stress, most people will do what they can to find peace and solve their problems. However, when all attempts to rectify a negative situation lead to continued unfavorable results and nothing seems to be helping, it may a sign that it's time to seek help.  Unfortunately, waiting for feelings of increased stress, sadness or anxiety to go away on their own can exacerbate the problem.



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Our mood and state of mind significantly impacts the relationship we have with our spouse, our family members, our friends, and our colleagues. It may also affect our performance as it relates to day-to-day tasks, school, or work. Creating unrealistic goals, missing deadlines, having difficulties making decisions, and being unable to balance work and personal life often become apparent to those around us. When family, friends, and co-workers share and voice their concerns about your emotional health, it’s time to listen up.



We don’t always sustain interest in everything we do. People are curious, it's fun to explore and try new things. Losing interest in things that used to bring joy and accomplishment, such as taking on new projects at work or socializing with colleagues and friends, can be a warning sign of a problem and can be brought on by stress. Often those who are struggling with their emotional health lose interest in personal grooming, diet, exercise, and social activities.  


It is common to have relationship disputes from time to time; that said, relationship issues are also the most common causes of emotional distress.  Furthermore, someone experiencing a mental health issue may become irritable, snappy, or unpleasant, putting further strain on both personal and professional relationships. Be aware of how you feel and how you interact with those around you, if your relationships are becoming problematic, speak up.  


Feeling sad or discouraged on occasion is common and of little consequence. On the other hand, if your thoughts become dark pr you regularly experience feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, this is cause for concern. If you contemplate hurting yourself or others, or ponder over what it might be like to end your life, it’s important to speak to a professional.  Similarly, if someone you love is experiences these thoughts, speak up. 


Asking for help takes strength, self-awareness, and courage. The goal of seeking help is to gain insight and develop strategies that can restore joy and normalcy to everyday life and remove stressors. With the appropriate
professional help, new solutions to unresolved problems can and do become possible, relationships can be restored, and life can become peaceful and enjoyable again.


To learn more about Medisys services or to book a consultation with one of our licensed and specialized professionals, call us at 1-800-361-3493 or click here.