A- Recognizing a disorder
BE ATTENTIVE to the signs and symptoms of your body and mind
If you feel that something is going wrong or is no longer functioning,
If you feel mental, psychological and/or physical suffering or pain,
If you feel tired, worn-out, apathetic, unmotivated, sad, melancholy, depressed or often feel like crying
If you feel anxious, afraid, like your throat is closing, have more and more of a tendency to isolate yourself or to stay at home,
If you suddenly feel excited, euphoric, sleep very little with overflowing energy, feel very hyperactive and creative in sudden and cyclic episodes
If you suddenly notice alternating periods of depression and euphoria
If you notice a deterioration in the quality of your interpersonal relationships (on a personal or professional level) with intense arguments, fits of sudden anger, irritated by things that should not seem very important,
If you are irritable, are much more sensitive than usual, to noise, for example, or notice a sudden marked intolerance to certain things,
If some of these signs and symptoms finally result in a degradation of your quality of life, if they handicap you in your daily endeavors,
If your entourage of family and friends finds that you have changed or if they complain about some of your behaviors
If you notice also certain physical changes : back pain, migraines, loss of appetite, losing weight, bulimia or, conversely, gaining weight,
If some of those signs start to daily handicap your life,
If you believe that you have one or more of the above mentioned signs and symptoms, if you have the least doubt
Then, IT IS URGENT TO CONSULT A PHYSICIAN TO EVALUATE YOUR STATE OF HEALTH AND DESCRIBE THE CHANGES IN YOURSELF AND SIGNS THAT YOU HAVE NOTICED.
Attention : Without becoming an alarmist and without running to the doctor for every « little » sign or symptom, it is important that you learn to listen to your body and mind, but also be objective about the signs and changes in your state of health. Your entourage of family and friends plays a very important role since they can allow you to be aware of your particular situation, and of the importance and/or reality of certain signs or changes.
TO BE ACCOMPANIED BY SOMEONE YOU TRUST DURING YOUR MEDICAL CONSULTATION CAN BE VERY USEFUL AND HELPS TO GIVE A MORE COMPLETE PICTURE OF YOUR STATE OF HEALTH AND OBSERVED SIGNS.
The usual first step is to see your regular « treating » physician.
ATTENTION : In cases of delirium or psychosis, hallucinations, incoherent behaviors or those which are violent, abnormal or even suicidal, you must act quickly and call emergency services, such as, PSYCHIATRIC EMERGENCY SERVICES, for example EMS (SAMU) or « SOS Medecins » in France.
Your treating physician or most general practice doctors will know how to listen to you and examine you, and then refer you, if necessary, to the best specialists for your specific problem.
In the case of mood disorders (depression, bipolarity, cyclothymia..) and/or problems of anxiety (phobias, fears, panic attacks..) and/or obsessive-compulsive disorders, you will most certainly be referred to a psychiatrist, a physician who is specialized in psychiatry, and, if possible, specialized in your particular presenting problem.
If you have already been evaluated for these types of disorders, you can also go to a Psychiatric Medical Practice (CMP in France), or to the medical consultations specialized in certain disorders available in some hospitals.
Psychiatric physicians are the best trained to treat mood and behavior disorders, and may suggest medications most appropriate for your disorder. As well, they can suggest psychotherapy, either done by themselves, or with a referral to a psychologist or psychotherapist.
For your information, a psychologist is not a physician but has studied in a university program for at least 5 years. They cannot prescribe medications. Their work is mainly listening, counseling and psychological support. Some have done extra training in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Psychologists often provide complementary care to that of a psychiatrist.
Concerning the term « psychotherapist », it is very imprecise and can be misleading. Essentially, since there are no strict regulations about using the term, it can refer to physicians (psychiatrists or physicians specializing in psychotherapy), but also to non physicians such a psychologists (with a diploma and sometimes with extra training such as CBT) or conversely, to someone with no recognized training at all, since in France, there is no psychotherapy diploma.
Remain vigilant about the qualifications of the person who is counseling you.
** Reader information : This section is mostly inspired of real-life experiences, and was written by the editorial staff of the Mood Institute, exclusively composed with patients - The members of the Medical and Scientific Committee are regularly asked to provide an advisory opinion - Last update