Mental Health Awareness Week | Lifestyles

DEAR ANNIE: Sunday, Oct. 4, marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week. As someone…

Mental Health Awareness Week | Lifestyles

DEAR ANNIE: Sunday, Oct. 4, marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week. As someone who has been impacted by a mental illness, I wanted to share the following warning signs of mental illness, courtesy of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

• Excessive worrying or fear.

• Feeling excessively sad or low.

• Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning.

• Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria.

• Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger.

• Avoiding friends and social activities.

• Difficulties understanding or relating to other people.

• Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy.

• Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite.

• Changes in sex drive.

• Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs.

• Thinking about suicide.

• Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress.

People can find local resources by calling 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or emailing [email protected] Depression impacts me year-round, and I hope that weeks like this can help raise awareness and counter stigma.— Glad to Be Here

DEAR GTBH: I appreciate your letter. One in 5 Americans experience a mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. And that rate is increasing during the pandemic. These illnesses are more common right now; they’re no less serious. If you have any of these symptoms or are feeling deeply lonely, then call the NAMI hotline mentioned above to be connected with resources. And if you have an urgent need for help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 911.

DEAR ANNIE: A couple wrote to you about whether or not it would be out of line for them to ask that their daughter’s boyfriend get a COVID-19 test before coming to their house for Christmas. You suggested that all of them (the parents and their daughter, along with her boyfriend) get the tests before the visit, not just the boyfriend. I hope you understand that the COVID test result is only good for the moment it is taken. One could be positive five minutes later from the cabbie in the cab they rode in, from anyone at the airport, etc. The virus incubates for up to two weeks, so the person can be negative and still have the virus in the body that could then become infectious during Christmas. Whether the boyfriend would then be sick or asymptomatic, he could, either way. Options are a 14-day quarantine before traveling; wearing a mask except for eating while at the girlfriend’s relatives; staying elsewhere in quarantine and having limited (mask-wearing) contact with girlfriend’s family. — Careful State

CAREFUL STATE: Yes, that is a big disclaimer that I should have included in that response: A negative COVID-19 test is not carte blanche to go out and socialize. You raise important considerations that this family and all families should take into account.

Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]