Addressing Mental Health Goals for the New Year

As we enter a new year, many of us commit to new physical health without addressing our mental health, as well. The holidays typically foster actions of indulgence; not only in rich foods, but in excessive partying. In retrospect, many of us can actually admit to partying all year long! Obviously, this is not a healthy lifestyle but we don’t do anything about it because the undertaking seems impossible. For some of us, it would be without enlisting the help of professionals.

Drug and alcohol use can be symptoms of underlying mental conditions. So can obsessive behaviors such as hoarding or gambling. We sometimes use these substances and behaviors to self medicate our depression or other underlying mental disorders. To find out if you might suffer from a mental condition, try taking an online evaluation by going to http://www.healthyplace.com/psychological-tests/.

Should you test positive on any of the evaluations, make an appointment with your family doctor as soon as possible. Bring your test results to your appointment and discuss your concerns with your physician. Family doctors can prescribe anti-depressants for mild depression. But for anything else beyond that, insist on a referral to a psychiatrist, as they are trained to deal with all other disorders and related medications. If you are considering over the counter or natural remedies you should discuss these with your doctor, as well.

Once your treatment begins, it is vital to stop “self-medicating”. Treatment of your medical condition will not magically make drinking, drugging or obsessive behaviors stop, but it can make stopping easier. Your body has become accustomed to certain substances and may continue to crave them. Detoxing from drugs and alcohol can not only be uncomfortable, but can also have medical (even fatal) consequences if not medically supervised. Check with your doctor to see if medical supervision will be necessary for your detox.

Finding support as you stop using alcohol, drugs or compulsive behaviors is also an important component to your mental and emotional health and recovery. There are a myriad of 12 step groups available to offer support (i.e. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous). You can find an extensive list of 12 step groups by visiting http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_twelve-step_groups . Depending on your diagnosis, your psychiatrist may prescribe therapy as part of your treatment.

Commit to being honest about your situation. It isn’t easy, but professionals are trained to deal with our mental health as well as our physical health. So don’t be afraid. Being honest shows true courage.

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