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Guest post by Melissa Howard

Emotional wellness is as important to your health as physical wellness. When you’re emotionally healthy, you view challenges and conflict as normal parts of life and feel confident that you will overcome them. On the other hand, if you’re not emotionally well, you may feel like everything is working against you.

Just like viruses and bacteria make the body sick, negative thoughts and feelings can weigh down your immune response and compromise your health. Furthermore, if you have an addiction, you might experience symptoms of depression, including lack of interest in activities and isolation.

It is estimated that 9.4 million Americans have had suicidal thoughts within the last year. If you feel that you are veering in this direction, it’s important to seek treatment. The first step is to recognize warning signs as soon as they appear.

What to look for

How can you tell if you’re just “feeling down” or are contemplating suicide? If you’re suffering from depression or addiction, you are much more likely to have suicidal thoughts. Warning signs include the following:

  • Wanting to commit suicide
  • Searching for a way to attempt suicide
  • Feeling withdrawn, isolated, hopeless, severely pained, and/or trapped
  • Feeling like you’re a burden to others
  • Increasing alcohol or substance abuse
  • Experiencing extreme mood swings
  • Experience rage or feelings of wanting revenge

If you have any of the above mentioned signs, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Other treatment solutions include visiting a community health center or your local hospital’s emergency room, making an appointment with a mental health specialist, talking to your family doctor, and asking your health insurance for help. Most insurance plans cover mental health needs, so don’t let coverage worries stop you from seeking help. If you’re a senior, you’re eligible for mental health coverage through your Medicare plan, which also provides screenings, evaluations, and diagnostic tests.

Taking care of yourself

Suicide prevention also involves maintaining a self-care routine. Depression can be caused by genetics and a chemical imbalance in the brain, but poor diet and physical health problems can also contribute to suicidal thoughts. While a mental health professional is vital to treating depression, you should also focus on getting more nutrients into your body and seek treatment for any physical conditions that are causing negative thoughts and feelings, such as thyroid disorders or chronic pain. Certain prescription medications list depression as a potential side effect, so make sure you discuss your medications with your doctor to see if they need to be changed.

What about addiction?

If you need addiction treatment, there are considerations you and your doctor should discuss. One option is a residential or inpatient facility, where you are placed into an intensive treatment program with health professionals and others who are undergoing treatment. This safe and structured environment encourages you to work to better understand yourself and what fuels your addiction, while keeping you away from daily struggles and temptations that might derail your treatment.

If an inpatient facility is not available or you cannot take that much time away from work or family, you can get treatment from an outpatient facility. These programs vary in style and can be both intensive and less intensive while offering a more flexible schedule. These programs may also be less expensive and time consuming than an inpatient facility, and will encourage you to understand yourself and your choices better through group, individual, or family therapy.

Everyone faces loss and failure in their lives, and everyone has the capacity to overcome them. If you’ve given in to depression or addiction, know that they are treatable, and you have it within you to recover. You can get back to achieving emotional wellness. Don’t give up.

Guest Post: Melissa Howard

Every suicide is preventable. After losing her younger brother to suicide, Melissa Howard felt compelled to create StopSuicide.info. By providing helpful resources and articles on her website, she hopes to build a lifeline of information.