Behavioral Health: What It Is and When To Seek Treatment
January 13, 2023
Behavioral health is a term that encompasses the psychological health and overall functioning of an individual. Though commonly used interchangeably with mental health, behavioral health more specifically refers to behavior and how people react under different circumstances.
Examples of behavioral health issues include eating disorders, addiction to sex and gambling, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and autism. The evaluation, treatment, and prevention of mental illness and substance abuse disorders also fall under the purview of behavioral health.
Illnesses and conditions that affect a person's mood, thinking, and behavior can jeopardize behavioral health. These conditions can range from mild to severe and can be acute or chronic.
How Behavioral Health Impacts Physical and Mental Health
If left untreated, behavioral issues can lead to a variety of physical and mental health problems. They may even interfere with an individual’s daily life and relationships.
One of the most common behavioral health issues in America is substance abuse, an addiction that has a tremendous impact on one’s physical and mental well-being. In the US, over 35% of adults suffering from substance abuse issues also experienced a psychiatric or behavioral disorder.
Meanwhile, mental and behavioral illnesses such as depression have been known to manifest as physical health problems. Some of the most notable and serious conditions that stem from depression are diabetes, asthma, heart disease, and stroke.
Inversely, the presence of chronic, long-lasting physical conditions like the ones listed above can increase a person’s risk of developing a behavioral disorder.
Behavioral health conditions can be treated through a combination of therapies, medications, and support from loved ones. It is important to seek treatment for behavioral health issues as soon as possible. Mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders can quickly become worse and cause significant distress and impairment on an individual's life if they remain unaddressed.
When To Seek Treatment
There are several signs that indicate it is time to seek treatment for a behavioral health issue. These include but aren’t limited to:
- Social withdrawal
- Substance abuse
- Sleep disorders
- Mood changes, such as negativity or sporadic mood swings
- Changes in appetite or eating patterns (weight loss or gain, possibly due to eating disorders)
- Aggressive tendencies
- Self-harm or harming others
- An unhealthy fascination with death or dying
- Suicidal ideation
- Destructive behavior
- Lowered or increased sexual drive
- A sudden propensity for lying or cheating
- Hypochondria or phantom aches and pains
- Feelings of panic or elevated heart rate
- Sudden feelings of guilt and hopelessness
- Decreased energy
If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to reach out for help. Seeking treatment for a behavioral health issue is not a sign of weakness. After all, it takes courage to ask for help and face these issues.
With the right diagnosis and treatment, individuals can recover and lead fulfilling healthy lives.
Treatment for Behavioral Health Issues
When it comes to treatment, there are many options for different behavioral health issues. The style, approach, and duration of treatment depend on the individual and the specific condition they are facing. Some common treatments include:
Certain medications can help manage the symptoms of behavioral health conditions and substance abuse. These include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and antipsychotics prescribed by a licensed mental or behavioral health professional.
Therapy or Counseling
Therapy or counseling involves talking with a trained professional about the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that affect behavioral health. There are many different types of therapy, such as:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): helps individuals change negative thought patterns and behaviors
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): helps individuals regulate their emotions and improve their interpersonal relationships
- Support group therapy: group discussions for people who are facing similar issues. These groups provide a safe space for individuals to share their experiences and support one another in an environment that’s free of judgment and ridicule.
For example, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are 12-step programs entirely composed of recovering and recovered addicts who support each other on their journey to recovery.
Changes to daily routines and habits can also be an important part of holistic behavioral health treatment. This can include getting regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and avoiding triggers that may lead to a worsened condition or continued substance abuse or addiction.
Mount Olive Family Medicine Center: Your Partner for Behavioral Health
As you journey toward the discovery and treatment of behavioral health issues, it’s important to work with an experienced and trusted healthcare provider like Mount Olive Family Medicine Center. At Mount Olive, we offer hope, help, and healing through our compassionate Behavioral Health Department.
We can help you identify behavioral health issues, select the best course of treatment, and guide you to recovery. Behavioral issues can be complicated but with the right support, sufferers can lead healthy, fulfilling, and joyful lives again.