People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. But, even people who have good emotional health can sometimes have emotional problems or mental illness.
According to Saudia Mushkbar, M.D., a family physician from Toledo, mental health issues are a common problem in primary care. Patients tend to underreport emotional issues to their physicians. One study found that only 20 to 30 percent of patients with emotional/psychological issues reported these to their primary care physicians.
“Depression and anxiety are the most common mental issues we come across in primary care,” Dr. Mushkbar said.
It is important to report any type of symptoms you may believe are from mental health issues. Some symptoms to report to your family physician include gaining or losing weight, sleeping too much or too little, feeling tired or having no energy, feeling guilty or worth nothing, forgetting things or feeling confused. Call your family physician immediately if you feel like you might hurt yourself or someone else.
“Good emotional health is not simply the absence of mental illness. It is the presence of a feeling of well-being derived from the confidence that we can cope with changes and challenges,” Dr. Mushkbar said. “It is about feeling satisfied with our lives and experiencing positive, meaningful connections with others. How we feel on the inside can affect our outside. Our outside is actually the mirror of our inside. The healthier we are inside, the more productive we are on the outside.”
Several screening tools are available for early recognition and diagnosis of mental health problems. It is important to remember that these conditions can be treated. Medications, therapy, relaxation techniques, or electroconvulsive therapy are available to appropriately treat mental conditions.
“Most people realize the benefits of maintaining a healthy diet and physical activity in all stages of their life, but few think about keeping their minds healthy as well. To achieve an overall balance, we all need to strive for both physical and mental wellness. Mental illnesses are listed among the top five diseases contributing toward disability. Early diagnosis and appropriate management helps patients,” Dr. Mushkbar said.
Tips for dealing with emotions:
• Smile, even when it’s difficult.
• Connect with others. The fuel to brighten the inside of our emotional well-being is charged by the bond with others.
• Let yourself experience strong emotions, but don’t let them rule you.
• Appreciate your talents and skills and use it to positively impact others.
• Learn to express your feelings in appropriate ways. It's important to let people close to you know when something is bothering you. Keeping feelings of sadness or anger inside takes extra energy. It can also cause problems in your relationships and at work or school.
• Think before you act. Emotions can be powerful. But, before you get carried away by your emotions and say or do something you might regret, give yourself time to think.
• Strive for balance in your life. Make time for things you enjoy. Focus on positive things in your life.
• Take care of your physical health. Your physical health can affect your emotional health. Take care of your body by exercising regularly, eating healthy meals, and getting enough sleep. Don't abuse drugs or alcohol.
• When in need, don’t be afraid to seek help.