Mental health refers to our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
At Wanaka Medical, our experienced GPs are here to help you with any problem related to your mental health as well as physical health. Our GPs are trained to assess, treat and manage many mental health issues within primary care (the community rather than in a hospital). This includes referrals to local community mental health services or elsewhere if needed.
Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:
- Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
- Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
- Family history of mental health problems
Mental ill health can have a negative impact on your physical health, just as a having a physical health problem can affect your mental health. Early warning signs of potential mental health issues might include:
- Eating or sleeping too much or too little
- Pulling away from people and usual activities
- Having low or no energy
- Feeling numb or like nothing matters
- Having unexplained aches and pains
- Feeling helpless or hopeless
- Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
- Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
- Yelling or fighting with family and friends
- Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
- Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
- Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
- Thinking of harming yourself or others
- Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school
Think about the following in advance to get the most out of your appointment:
- Do you need a double appointment? You can book a 30 minute appointment rather than the usual 15 if you think you need longer to talk to your doctor.
- Ask a friend or family member to come to the appointment with you if you think it might help.
- Prepare a list of the concerns you want to discuss. Include physical and mental symptoms, how long you’ve felt this way and how it affects your life.
- Be open and honest. Our GPs are trained to deal with intimate and uncomfortable things in a professional and supportive way and everything you tell them is legally confidential (unless you could be a danger to others).
- If you think you know what will help you, tell the GP.
- Ask them to write down anything you don’t understand and make notes during the appointment if you need to.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions or get the GP to repeat things.
- Make sure you fully understand what the next steps are before you leave the room.
Mental health problems are common but help is available. People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.