Mental health issues do not come across as problems that constitute an emergency. However, certain behaviours warrant a quick response before things degenerate. In this article, we will discuss what they are so that you can identify them.
A psychiatric emergency in Nigeria is a sudden and dangerous disturbance of one’s behaviour or mood that can lead to harm to the individual or society. A psychiatric emergency can put other people around at risk and this is a clear difference from other medical emergencies. There’s hardly a better way to describe psychiatric emergencies than by giving relatable examples. Let’s see these examples.
Any attempt by an individual to harm themselves should always be treated as a psychiatric emergency in Nigeria. How do you know a suicide attempt? Of course, you might see a person about to pull the trigger of a gun to their temple or tighten a noose around their neck. However, there are other things you may not take seriously. When a person says that they are thinking about or want to kill themselves, it is a psychiatric emergency. This happens a lot on the internet. If you stumble on an internet search on ‘how to attempt suicide’ by someone you know, take the necessary steps. Some people will give away their belongings or make a will for no obvious reason. Consider suicidal ideation a possibility.
Most people who commit suicide or attempt to have mental health challenges. Depression comes top on this list, followed by alcohol abuse and schizophrenia. Suicide is commoner in men than women although more women attempt it. Unemployment is another risk for suicide. People who are battling with other medical conditions are also at risk of suicide. Bad life events can also lead to suicides- the death of a loved one, divorce, financial issues and other problems.
A person displaying aggressiveness and violence poses a risk to others in society. They may start fires or destroy property. They can threaten others around them with weapons. Some threaten to kill people online. These behaviours constitute a psychiatric emergency and must be treated as such. The risk of such behaviours is high in societies where there is easier access to firearms and alcohol/drug abuse. Certain psychiatric and medical disorders can also increase risk. These are schizophrenia, dementia, mania, personality disorders, head injury, seizure disorders, hypo/hyperthermia among many others.
Some signs predict an impending assault. These include anger, a loud voice, staring eyes, flared nostrils, flushed face, hands clenched or gripping weapons. At the ER, the person will be sedated to bring things under control before the psychiatric assessment is conducted.
Substance Intoxication And Withdrawal
Alcohol and cocaine are common culprits. They can lead to violent behaviour in intoxicated individual. Withdrawal happens as a result of the inability to access these drugs after one is heavily dependent on them. In the ER, physical restraints or sedation may be necessary. Sometimes, people overdose on prescribed psychoactive drugs. The moment any unusual actions are noticed, get down to the ER.
Psychiatric emergencies are frightening. Witnessing a loved one ‘snap’ is never easy to watch. However, the best help you can offer then is to seek medical care. These cases are very treatable and the outcome is often successful.