As human beings, we\u2019re all unique in so many wonderful (and sometimes not so wonderful) ways.\u00a0 Each of us has particular idiosyncrasies and foibles that make us endearing to some and annoying to others.\u00a0 But if something is \u201cunique\u201d, does that also mean it\u2019s \u201cabnormal\u201d?\u00a0 After all, \u201cnormal\u201d is one of the most subjective words in the dictionary.\u00a0 What\u2019s normal to one culture is bizarre to another.\u00a0 And what\u2019s normal at age 3 may be considered extremely abnormal at age 33. It also doesn\u2019t help that some people are not particularly insightful or self-aware.\u00a0 Or, perhaps they think they are, but they\u2019re not.\u00a0 At.\u00a0 All.\u00a0 A given problem is obvious to everyone else except them.\u00a0 The fact, however, that you\u2019re reading this suggests that you\u2019re at least open to some potentially difficult introspection. If you\u2019re worried that something might be wrong with you (or someone close to you), how do you know if you\u2019re being a bit paranoid versus duly concerned?\u00a0\u00a0 Sometimes it\u2019s impossible to know for sure without an evaluation by a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional.\u00a0\u00a0 However, there are some telltale signs and strong indicators that psychiatric treatment is a likely necessity.\u00a0 Following are 10 signs that you need to seek professional help:\r\n1 - You\u2019re having a very difficult time coping in general or functioning in your day to day life.\r\nThis is one of the first \u2013 and most salient \u2013 signs that you need to seek help from a mental health professional.\u00a0 Basic coping skills and functioning are vital if you want to live your life without depending on someone else to take care of you.\u00a0 If you\u2019ve noticed that you\u2019re not able to function as well as you once did, or in a way that would be reasonable to expect for your health and age, and there\u2019s no reasonable explanation (e.g. you\u2019re suffering from a known medical condition), then that\u2019s a serious red flag. Some mental health conditions develop gradually, while the onset of others can be relatively fast.\u00a0 Any observable change compared to previous functioning is problematic and warrants an evaluation.\r\n2 \u2013 You have rapid or very obvious mood swings.\r\nA stable mood is part of overall good mental health.\u00a0 However, some psychiatric disorders involve significant mood fluctuations.\u00a0 The changes may be very fast (e.g. with borderline personality disorder) or occur over several days or even weeks (e.g. with bipolar disorder).\u00a0 Drug and alcohol use can also contribute to erratic moods, as can certain medical problems.\u00a0 An evaluation can help determine the underlying cause.\r\n3 \u2013 You feel sad, blue, hopeless, or down most of the time.\r\nThis is often a red flag for depression, one of the most common mental health conditions.\u00a0 While occasional feelings of sadness or feeling \u201cdown in the dumps\u201d are a normal part of being human, it\u2019s not normal for them to last for long periods of time.\u00a0 If other symptoms are present as well, such as poor concentration, sleep disturbances, low energy, and feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, depression is a very possible diagnosis. If left untreated, depression can cause significant problems in your life, which, in turn, feed the depression even more.\u00a0 Marriages, careers, and physical health can all be significantly damaged by depression.\u00a0 For some individuals, depression can also trigger suicidal thoughts and behaviors, potentially resulting in a tragic outcome.\u00a0 Depression can be a short term experience for some.\u00a0 However, it can last for years and even decades for others.\r\n4 \u2013 You worry excessively or feel anxious most or all of the time.\r\nAnxiety or irrational fear is a common symptom of many different disorders, including OCD, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder, and phobias.\u00a0 Anxiety can be paralyzing, and its constant presence can wreak havoc with your health over time.\u00a0 Not to mention, it interferes with sleep and other aspects of functioning.\r\n5 \u2013 You can\u2019t shake the impact of past or recent traumatic events.\r\nTrauma turns your life upside down, and can take a very serious toll on your psyche.\u00a0 Unwanted images and memories are often branded into your brain, leaving you with the awful sense that you\u2019re stuck \u2013 and there\u2019s simply no way to heal and move on.\u00a0 Little, seemingly unrelated things can trigger those memories and leave you desperate to get rid of them. If you\u2019ve experienced any kind of trauma in your life \u2013 whether recent or past \u2013 it can come back to haunt you in a variety of ways.\u00a0 Nightmares, flashbacks, severe anxiety, disturbing images, and deeply painful emotions are just a few of the ways trauma can make life very challenging.\u00a0 Some of the more common types of trauma include almost dying in an accident, being assaulted, witnessing a tragic accident, being in combat, surviving a horrific natural disaster (e.g. a tornado or hurricane), or being physically or sexually abused as an adult or child.\r\n6 \u2013 You\u2019re seriously considering suicide.\r\nA fleeting thought from time to time in which you wish you were dead or should just end it isn\u2019t necessarily abnormal or a sign you need to rush to the nearest psychiatric hospital.\u00a0 Many people have those once in a while, but quickly dismiss them as extreme, foolish, or irrational. However, if you don\u2019t dismiss them; if you\u2019re thinking about suicide frequently or seriously, or if you have come up with a fairly specific plan to kill yourself, then you need to seek help as soon as possible. Suicidal thoughts can very quickly lead to dangerous suicidal behavior.\u00a0 Even if you don\u2019t really want to die and don\u2019t mean to die, suicidal actions can have tragic consequences. Although suicidal thoughts and actions are primarily associated with major depression and other mood disorders, the vast majority of mental illnesses significantly increase the risk of them occurring.\r\n7 \u2013 You\u2019re using alcohol, drugs (street drugs, prescription drugs, and even OTC medications), or other substances (or activities) to numb emotional pain.\r\nThis is often referred to as \u201cself-medicating\u201d.\u00a0 When you turn to things outside yourself in a desperate attempt to cope, it usually signals the presence of a serious problem.\u00a0 Not only that, your use of substances or activities as a means of escape can lead to an addiction (yet another disorder) over time.\u00a0 In addition to alcohol and drugs, sex, food, and gambling are frequently used excessively or inappropriately as a form of self-medicating.\r\n8 - You\u2019re a ticking time bomb.\r\nSignificant irritability, hostility, rage, and frequent anger outbursts (i.e. \u201chaving a temper) are often red flags of a mental health problem.\u00a0 If it\u2019s not dealt with, unresolved anger can and often does lead to many other, more serious problems.\u00a0 Not only does it drain your emotional and physical energy, it has a very negative impact on your health, relationships, and work.\u00a0 It can easily lead to substance abuse problems as well. Anger issues can lead to other very serious behaviors, including emotional and physical abuse of others, destruction of property, and self-destructive behavior.\r\n9 \u2013 You have irrational fears that interfere with your life.\r\nIrrational fears can involve a variety of things, including the fear that people are watching you or following you, and the extreme fear of objects (e.g. dogs, spiders) or situations (e.g. flying, social situations). \u00a0Irrational fears can also become obsessive in nature, leading to persistent and intrusive thoughts that create significant anxiety.\u00a0 These include obsessive fears about having a serious illness (despite evidence to the contrary), being exposed to germs, or being gay even though you have no genuine attraction to the same sex. Irrational fears almost always lead to irrational or extreme behavior.\u00a0 For example, if you\u2019re extremely fearful of having a serious illness, you may spend tens of thousands of dollars and undergo endless \u2013 sometimes painful and intrusive \u2013 medical tests, even after several doctors have insisted you are healthy.\u00a0 Irrational fear also leads to avoidant or ritualistic behaviors.\u00a0 They can leave you emotionally paralyzed and make normal functioning impossible.\r\n10 \u2013 You have a very unusual, troubled relationship with food and eating.\u00a0 \r\nOften combined with a distorted body image (e.g. you see yourself as fat when your weight is normal or you\u2019re underweight), this is a red flag for an eating disorder.\u00a0 Eating disorders can cause a whole host of problems in your life.\u00a0 Not only do they tend to consume a significant amount of your time and energy, they also can have a very serious \u2013 and even fatal \u2013 impact on your health. Although the above list isn\u2019t comprehensive, it covers a broad range of potential mental health disorders.\u00a0 Of course, other things should also be given serious consideration, such as a long pattern of relationship difficulties, unusual perceptual experiences (e.g. hearing people talking when no one\u2019s around), painfully low self-esteem, abusive behavior, and getting stuck in the grieving process. If any of the above sound like you (or a loved one), help is available.\u00a0 If you\u2019re abusing substances (even if other signs are present), it\u2019s time to contact a drug or alcohol rehab center.\u00a0\u00a0 .\u00a0 You may need \u201cdual diagnosis\u201d treatment, in which both a substance abuse problem and mental health condition are treating simultaneously.\u00a0 The sooner you do, the sooner you can get on the path to recovery. For all the rest, contact a mental health professional or clinic and set up an appointment for an evaluation. A thorough assessment is the first step towards getting the help you need and deserve.\u00a0 If you think you might be at risk of harming yourself or someone else, talk to someone immediately: Call a crisis line, 911, or a local mental health clinic, or go to the nearest hospital emergency department. There\u2019s no shame in having a mental health condition, whether it\u2019s a substance disorder, PTSD, or depression.\u00a0 Help is available, no matter how difficult or embarrassing your concern.