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Pathology

Robert R. Cawley, D.O.

Dover, NH 03802

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06/20/2016

5 Signs of Suffering

Granite Health and its partnership of five of the largest community based health systems in New Hampshire including Catholic Medical Center, Concord Hospital, LRGHealthcare, Southern New Hampshire Health, and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, announced their joint support for the Change Direction New Hampshire Campaign, which aims to change the culture around mental health in America by increasing awareness of the issue and sharing the campaign’s “5 Signs of Suffering.”

Nearly one in every five people, or 42.5 million American adults, has a diagnosable mental health condition1. Half of all lifetime cases of mental disorders begin by age 142.

Often our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even family members are suffering emotionally and don’t recognize the symptoms or won’t ask for help.

Here are five signs that may mean someone is in emotional pain and might need help:

Their personality changes.

You may notice sudden or gradual changes in the way that someone typically behaves. He or she may behave in ways that don't seem to fit the person's values, or the person may just seem different.

They seem uncharacteristically angry, anxious, agitated, or moody.

You may notice the person has more frequent problems controlling his or her temper and seems irritable or unable to calm down. People in more extreme situations of this kind may be unable to sleep or may explode in anger at a minor problem.

They withdraw or isolate themselves from other people.

Someone who used to be socially engaged may pull away from family and friends and stop taking part in activities he or she used to enjoy. In more severe cases the person may start failing to make it to work or school. Not to be confused with the behavior of someone who is more introverted, this sign is marked by a change in someone's typical sociability, as when someone pulls away from the social support he or she typically has.

They stop taking care of themselves and may engage in risky behavior.

You may notice a change in the person's level of personal care or an act of poor judgment on his or her part. For instance, someone may let his or her personal hygiene deteriorate, or the person may start abusing alcohol or illicit substances or engaging in other self-destructive behavior that may alienate loved ones.

They seem overcome with hopelessness and overwhelmed by their circumstances.

Have you noticed someone who used to be optimistic and now can’t find anything to be hopeful about? That person may be suffering from extreme or prolonged grief, or feelings of worthlessness or guilt. People in this situation may say that the world would be better off without them, suggesting suicidal thinking.

IF YOU RECOGNIZE THAT SOMEONE IN YOUR LIFE IS SUFFERING, NOW WHAT?

You connect, you reach out, you inspire hope, and you offer help. Show compassion and caring and a willingness to find a solution when the person may not have the will or drive to help him-or herself. There are many resources in our communities.

It may take more than one offer, and you may need to reach out to others who share your concern about the person who is suffering.

If everyone is more open and honest about mental health, we can prevent pain and suffering, and those in need will get the help they deserve.

The Campaign to Change Direction is a collection of concerned citizens, nonprofit leaders, and leaders from the private sector who have come together to create a new story in America about mental health, mental illness, and wellness. Join us and make a pledge at www.changedirection.org/nh.

1 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (as of 11/24/14).

2 R. C. Kessler, W. T. Chiu, O. Demler, K.R. Merikangas, E. E. Walters. “Prevalence, Severity, and Comorbidity of Twelve-Month DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication.” Arch. Gen. Psych.June 2005 62(6):617-627