Family and Friends Health Care

Mental Health Emergencies: When to Go to the ER

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At AdventHealth Dade City and Zephyrhills, we treat the whole person — body, mind and spirit. It’s vital to your well-being to understand that mental health is just as important as your physical health, and that mind and body impact each other. That’s why mental health conditions almost always come with physical symptoms, too, or why people with illnesses that are considered physiological may also struggle with mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.

That said, if you face a mental health crisis, don’t brush it off and see it as insignificant compared to physical sickness or injury. Get help right away. We’re here with our expert emergency physician, clinical toxicologist and medical director, Javier Gonzalez, MD, FACEP, DABT, to let you know why not only it is OK to go to the ER if you’re having a mental health crisis, but it may very well be your best option.

Keep reading to find out the answers to some common questions.

What Types of Mental Health Conditions are seen in the ER?

According to Dr. Gonzalez, “ER visits for mental health crises are on the rise. At least 6% of adult and 7% of pediatrics ER visits are due to mental health complaints.”

This uptick reflects an increase in mental health conditions. Some common mental health conditions that may be seen in the ER include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective disorder

When Should You Go to the ER for Mental Health?

“If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis and you’re worried about your safety, you should go to the ER whatever the reason,” says Dr. Gonzalez. He continues, “This means that if you think you or someone else might seriously hurt themselves or are having suicidal thoughts, seek immediate psychiatric help. The ER is the right place to go. It may be your only option if your regular doctor or a mental health clinic are not available at the time of need.”

In addition to self-harm and suicidal thoughts, you should go to the ER if you experience the following:

  • Aggression or physical assault
  • Confusion
  • Delusions
  • Mania
  • Paranoia
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms that have become dangerous
  • Severe insomnia
  • Severe medication side effects
  • Visual or auditory hallucinations

What to Expect When You Go to the ER

Going to the ER may be an overwhelming thought when you’re already overwhelmed. But let it comfort you to know that emergency services are available to help in a mental health crisis, anywhere, anytime — for anyone.

Dr. Gonzalez explains, “In mental health emergencies we’ll ascertain that the crisis is contained and that the emergency is dealt with. After the crisis is over, in some cases you may be released from the ER and be advised to follow up with a mental health professional. In other cases, you might be admitted to the hospital or transferred to a facility that's better equipped to provide the care you need.”

If you're hospitalized for a mental health emergency, be sure to follow up after you're released. With the help of a mental health professional, you can make a personalized plan to ensure you continue healing, as well as a plan to help you cope in the case of another mental health emergency.

We’re Always Here for You

In an emergency, you need a team you can trust. If you’re not feeling well — in body, mind or spirit — don’t wait. We’re here for you 24/7.

Learn more about how we can help you in your time of greatest need at our AdventHealth ER locations in Dade City and Zephyrhills.

If you need immediate help, don’t hesitate to connect with the Suicide Prevention Lifeline for free and confidential support 24/7. Simply dial or text 988.

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