Lately I have been feeling quite negative, I can't see the good in things or feel happy about things. I always seem to feel cranky and short of patience. Do you have any tips on how I can start thinking more positively and stop feeling so negative all the time?
Feeling stressed and 'cranky' is something most of us can relate to at some times in life often with good reason! However, if you feel persistently 'down' and negative about life for more than a couple of weeks, and for no real reason, then it's definitely time to talk to someone about it and get some help.
Making time to relax, do yoga, spend time with friends, going easy on alcohol, getting enough sleep ... all of these are good things which everyone can do to de-stress at the end of the day. They're a part of good general mental health. When negative feelings persist and begin to affect your everyday life, though, and make it difficult to enjoy the ordinary pleasures, then yes it's definitely time to talk to a doctor or other health professional.
A GP is the best place to start, as with any concern about your physical or mental health. Make a longer appointment so there is time to talk. It's a good idea to make a list of things to say, too we all know how easy it is to 'dry up' and think we're 'making a fuss' when asked about how we are feeling. Note down how long you have been feeling this way; some examples of occasions that have given you particular concern (for example, not taking pleasure in things you usually enjoy); any changes to sleeping habits and ability to concentrate; loss of appetite, or wanting to see other people less.
The doctor may make a diagnosis if you have some form of depression, for example and can then prescribe a treatment plan. Many people find it reassuring to be given a diagnosis, as it explains why they have been feeling this way, and because it means there is something they can do about it, and get back on with their lives again. In the case of depression, the doctor can refer you to a psychologist (with most of the cost covered by Medicare), as psychological therapy is the most effective form of treatment for most people. Sometimes the doctor may also discuss prescribing antidepressant medication for a period. You've made a great start by writing to us, so follow through and promise yourself to make that appointment with the doctor today!
For more information about mental health and related issues, call the SANE Helpline on Freecall 1800 18 SANE (7263) or visit www.sane.org.