Do I have a mental health issue?

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Do I have a mental health issue? Mental health affects us all, with recent statistics quoting that up to one in four of us will be affected by a mental health condition during our lives.

A question many patients ask me when they come to see me as a General Practitioner or Mindset coach is, ‘how do I know that how I’m feeling isn’t just normal for this time of year, or actually a mental health problem?’ I try and explain to patients that whilst we are normally proactive and aware of our physical health, we often neglect or are unaware of looking after our mental health.

Mental health is about how we think, feel and behave. Some of the most mental health conditions that patients present with, particularly those at work and in high pressured roles, are anxiety and depression. Whilst it is normal for us all to feel angry, sad, upset, worried in reaction to things that happen to us throughout the day, these symptoms may be intensified by a life event that is causing us difficulty. For example, such as a relationship breakdown, or bereavement and even work-related issues, such as disparity at work, pressures with meeting a deadline or managing difficult work colleagues. 

When stress is prolonged, this can lead to both physical and psychological damage, including anxiety and depression. People may find that they feel anxious on a weekend about going back to work on a Monday, and that this impacts on their time away from work, or dread certain work related situations.

This is becoming more and more common, with more flexibility in work and home working, the boundaries between the working day and personal time are becoming more difficult to separate. People may also find that this may affect their sleep, that they have difficulty falling asleep or wake up early in the morning, worrying about certain things, their enjoyment of things that used to make them happy, their personal relationships and family dynamics too for example. 

Seeking help

Another common question I’m asked is, ‘what’s normal for my mental health, and when should I seek help or advice?’

  • If people feel that they have noticed a change in personality, such being more angry or sad or that this has been noticed by friends, colleagues or loved ones
  • If their eating or sleeping patterns are different
  • If they have an inability to cope with problems or daily activities and finally a feeling of disconnect or not wanting to do or not enjoying normal activities.

This could be a sign that their mental health has been affected and they should seek advice. 

I would recommend speaking to your General Practitioner or seeking the advice of a Mental Health or Mindset coach (a performance coach with a specialist knowledge of mental health also) who may be able to guide you through this difficult time. Especially if you feel that your symptoms continue for more than two weeks. 

There are specific questions and examinations that your General Practitioner may use to try and explore if your symptoms have led you to develop a mental health condition. These examinations will depend on how these symptoms are affecting your day to day life and ability to function and work. Your General Practitioner will recommend different treatment options, including talking therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

Some people choose to try their General Practitioner as a last resort, however a qualified and experienced Mental Health Coach will be able to signpost you to psychological therapy and your General Practitioner, if they are concerned with how you present.

The types of patients I see as a Mindset Coach are highly performing clients who are aware of how their mental health is impacting them, and are able to function with their mental health condition. There is specific guidance for employees that you may find helpful, in starting a conversation with your employer about how you are feeling and how this may be impacting on your work, as your employer also has a responsibility towards how you are feeling at work. For some people with an existing mental health problem, work related stress may make it more difficult to control and it may become hard to separate one from the other.

If you have been affected by anything that you have read in this article, please contact your general practitioner today for further support and advice, and reach out to a friend or loved one to take that first step towards exploring how to be proactive about your mental health today. 

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Hana Patel
Dr. Hana Patel is a senior clinical general practitioner, working in both the NHS and Private healthcare. She is passionate about coaching and has an interest in mental health, particularly after seeing how the Covid pandemic affected both adults and children, and works as a mental health and Mindset coach. Dr. Hana Patel also provides services as a coach for colleagues in primary care in England, and is the Lead for the Coaching and Mentoring service in South East London, for primary care colleagues in the NHS. If you would like to find out more about Dr. Hana Patel and book an appointment with her, her consulting rooms are in Dulwich, South London and she also consults remotely through the Topdoctors platform: https://www.topdoctors.co.uk/doctor/hana-patel

1 COMMENT

  1. If mental health affects us all, aren’t varying states of mind a normal part of the human experience and not a “mental health condition”?

    Isn’t this increasing focus on mental health a self-perpetuating spiral, often benefitting practitioners’ careers rather than helping patients?

    Where is the objective research which confirms that mental health conditions exist? Where is the margin between just feeling down and “poor mental health”?

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