Mental health concerns can come in many forms; they can affect the way you think, your ability to get through day-to-day life, the ability to concentrate at work, or just feeling low and irritable from time to time.
You might have a combination of mental health concerns from time to time, but if you fail to recognise and seek help from an expert, these concerns can become a mental illness when symptoms become more frequent and ongoing.
Mental health signs and symptoms that mean you may need to see your GP
Most patients with mental health issues will feel low, anxious and irritable without any reason. We come across patients complaining about significant changes in their behaviour, their thoughts and feelings that could be tell-tale signs of mental health illness. Symptoms to look out for include:
- Irregular sleeping pattern or either sleeping too much or too little
- Losing interest in hobbies or things that makes them happy
- Feeling tired from time to time without doing any work
- Finding it difficult to concentrate at work
- Being withdrawn and becoming isolated
- Withdrawing from people and places
- Being anxious and irritable
- Frequent changes in mood
- Unusual or illogical thoughts
Conditions that we regularly treat
Depression is characterised by an ongoing or persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest in activities that can lead to a range of behavioural and physical symptoms.
It is a complex condition, affected each individual in different ways, which is why it is understandable that there is no one single silver bullet for recovering.
However, with a combination of treatment such as medication, lifestyle changes, therapy and counselling, our doctors can help shorter depressive episodes or decrease the likelihood of a relapse.
Feeling anxious could be a normal reaction to danger or a challenging situation like facing an interview or chasing a deadline.
But when the same feelings are more periodic, as in when it starts interfering with your daily life, it is more likely to be an anxiety disorder. For example, if you’re constantly tensed or plagued by irrational fears, then you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders are the most common group of mental illness in Australia, affecting almost 1 in 4 Australians at some stage in their life.
Like depression, anxiety is also different for everyone. While someone might get an anxiety attack from an exam, others may find themselves worrying about anything and everything.
Bipolar Affective Disorder (BPAD) or Manic Depression
As the name suggests, BPAD is characterised by major shifts and changes in mood. Most patients with BPAD suffers from episodes of extreme mood swings such as feeling thrilled and then suddenly deplorable.
These mood swings can last a week or sometimes up to several months at a stretch, where a patient’s behaviour or thoughts could be beyond their control.
In case there are symptoms of low mood, lack of energy, feelings of guilt, decreased concentration, or feeling of euphoria, then you must seek help immediately.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is a serious mental health illness that can occur to someone who has faced a life-threatening event such as an accident, domestic violence, sudden death of a loved one or even a natural disaster.
Most people recover from these events, but people with PTSD can struggle with severe depression and anxiety for months and up to several years. It is often coupled with other mental health disorders, nightmares and flashbacks of the events.
Schizophrenia is a psychiatric disorder where an individual will gradually lose contact with reality, experiencing hallucinations and delusions. It affects a person’s thoughts, perceptions and ability to relate to the real world.
Many people with Schizophrenia are withdrawn from the real world and there is an increased risk of attempting suicide, especially during psychotic episodes.
However, with the right support and a combination of therapies and medications, most patients do get better over time.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders (OCD)
OCD is another type of anxiety disorder that creates an obsession to do something over and over again. For example, a person with OCD may feel the need to check for problems repetitively, like checking for taps, or house lights or even checking emails.
They may also feel that they need to arrange things in a certain way, causing distress and interference with a person’s ability to perform daily activities.
There are effective ways to treating OCD, including psychotherapy and medications.
How can a GP help with mental health issues?
As physical and mental health are interconnected, visiting your local GP can be beneficial, as they can provide care for both physical and mental wellness. They can diagnose, prepare mental health management plans, provide treatment and refer you to a mental health expert when needed.
If you have a mental health care plan you are entitled to Medicare rebates for up to 10 groups or individual appointments with an allied mental health service in a 12-month period. Our doctors can refer you to a local mental health practitioner, or you can refer to Beyond Blue, which allows you to find a mental health professional near you.