Although we all know when to take our loved ones to the hospital when we see signs of physical illness, the majority of us are entirely unaware of psychiatric conditions. There are still numerous misconceptions that surround mental health, which leads to relatives being unaware or in denial of the deteriorating mental state of their loved one. This can be a grave problem in case it is a psychiatric emergency.
Therefore it is essential to know all that you can about major psychiatric emergencies.
What is Psychiatric Emergency?
Major psychiatric emergencies include a noticeable disturbance of behavior, mood, or thoughts of a person. If such people don’t get proper emergency psychiatric help, it may result in self-harm. It can even lead to fatal incidents involving themselves or others around them.
As compared to a medical emergency, major psychiatric emergencies are different because they can harm the patient and others around them. Situations with significant and severe danger to the patient’s life, to a minor, or to others around them.
Managing a Psychiatric Emergency
Notice the small and subtle signs of different types of psychiatric emergencies so that you know what to do in such situations and how to get the correct emergency psychiatric help.
It is imperative to know your responsibilities when it comes to psychiatric emergency management.
Some of the most common and major psychiatric emergencies include when your loved one is threatening to harm themselves, for example:
- Personally expressing thoughts of harming themselves or wanting to commit suicide
- Finding ways and means to do self-harm or commit suicide
- Preparing to do self-harm or commit suicide, such as collecting sleeping tablets, making noose from ropes, or purchasing weapons
- Writing a suicide note
- Making a will beforehand or giving away their favorite things, in anticipation of ending their lives soon
- Hurting or cutting themselves without explanation or even talking about dying
Some other types of psychiatric emergencies involve those situations when the person is attempting to harm others, such as when they:
- Talk or hint at killing someone or a group of people
- Start becoming increasingly violent with those around them
- Start becoming destructive, start fires or destroy property as well as harming animals
- Threaten a person using a weapon of any kind
Emergency psychiatric evaluation also includes a change in behavior, which includes:
- Strange or non-sensible behavior
- Losing touch with reality
- Becoming paranoid
- Hallucinating and seeing or hearing things that do not exist
In the above situations, emergency psychiatric evaluation is required to administer emergency psychiatric help. It is highly recommended to contact and consult with a renowned mental health expert and experienced psychiatrist so that the best psychiatric emergency management can be provided to the patient.
Treatment of the psychiatric problem depends mainly on the types of psychiatric emergencies that the patient shows. An expert psychiatric can do an effective psychiatric emergency evaluation and recommend the best course of treatment for each case.
Initial emergency psychiatric evaluation requires the psychiatric to collect all available information about the patient’s mental health and history. Usually, talking to the patient’s relatives, close friends, and even their doctors can help gain a lot of essential information about the patient’s psychiatric background.
The initial evaluation involves taking note of the patient’s mental state. The psychiatrist will do this to find out:
- Level of consciousness – Whether patient appears alert or drowsy
- Speech – If the speech is coherent, shows pressure or there is slow speech
- Appearance / Behavior – How much the patient is cooperating, is there over-breathing, is the patient suspicious, hostile, seems to be muttering to themselves, how their posture is and if the patient is making eye contact
- Moods – If the patient shows extreme moods, such as depression, anxiety, elation, anger, liability, appetite, sleep problems, fearfulness or inclination to suicide
- Thoughts – Whether patient shows repetitive thoughts or their thoughts are erratic
- Perception – Is the patient experiencing auditory or visual hallucinations
- Cognitive functions – Does the patient have a clear memory of recent events, etc
These points in the emergency psychiatric evaluation will help the psychiatrist to determine whether the patient’s mental condition has been caused by:
- Disease or trauma – Noticeable disorientation, visual hallucinations, disturbance in memory, fluctuating consciousness levels usually point out to the cause of the emergency psychiatric condition being caused by disease, intoxication or trauma.
Typically, treatments under emergency psychiatric management are aimed at stabilizing the current life-threatening condition. After the patient’s emergency condition is stabilized, they are checked for any underlying chronic conditions and transferred to a special ward for psychiatric rehabilitation.
Today, there are several ways to treat emergency psychiatric conditions, including the use of medications, psychotherapy, and electroconvulsive therapy (only in emergency situations). Initial treatment in psychiatric emergency management may involve using physical restraints to subdue (control) violent patients, reducing dangerous symptoms and rehabilitative techniques.
Treating Psychiatric Emergencies using Medications
Timely treatment is extremely vital for successful psychiatric emergency management. Hence, medications are the first line of treatment in almost all types of psychiatric emergencies. Medications can be administered orally. However, if the patient is likely to vomit, then the doctor may attempt to deliver the medicines using a suppository technique. In extreme cases, medications may be injected directly into the patient too.
Treating Psychiatric Emergencies using Psychotherapy
Acute or immediate psychiatric conditions can be effectively treated using brief psychotherapy. However, using psychotherapy is only possible when the patient is known to the psychiatrist, and there is significant trust between them. The psychiatrist should also be aware of the patient’s past medical and mental history.
Treating Psychiatric Emergencies using Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
Although this is a controversial treatment, this method is only advised in situations where the patient is too depressed, violent, or uncooperative to take their prescribed medications.
To ensure that your loved one gets the optimal treatment, ensure that they receive the best psychiatric emergency management. Make an effort to contact and consult an expert and reliable psychiatrist to get the best emergency psychiatric help.