Taking Care of Yourself and Your Family When a Loved One is Mentally Ill

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Stressed, out-of-control, angry, frustrated, pained, exhausted, confused – these are just some of the emotions a family with a mentally ill loved one may experience.  Families new to dealing with mental illness and “veteran” families both look for ways to maintain healthy individual and family lives and relationships despite the ongoing needs and even disruption of their ill loved one.
The ongoing stress created by this situation may seem like a normal part of life, however on a day-to-day basis it begins to chip away at one’s well being. While stress can be a positive reaction that pulls one through a crisis, too much stress may lead to health problems such as:
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Loss of concentration
  • Inability to control anger
  • Increased use of alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes, or drugs
  • Increased or decreased eating
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Thinking often about what you need to do


These symptoms may in turn lead to:
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Decreased immune defenses


Mental Health America has developed the Live Your Life Well program to help individuals and families fight chronic stress and its effects:
  1. Connect with others – People who feel connected are happier and healthier – and may even live longer.
  2. Stay positive – People who regularly focus on the positive in their life are less upset by painful memories.
  3. Get physically active – Exercise can help relieve insomnia and reduce depression.
  4. Help others – Those who consistently help others experience less depression, greater calm, and fewer pains.
  5. Get enough sleep – Lack of rest increases the risk of weight gain, accidents, reduced memory, and heart problems.
  6. Create joy and satisfaction – Positive emotions can boost the ability to bounce back from stress.
  7. Eat well – Healthy food and regular meals can increase energy, lower the risk of developing certain diseases, and influence mood.
  8. Take care of your spirit – People with a strong spiritual life may be healthier and live longer. Spirituality seems to reduce the stress that can contribute to heart disease.
  9. Deal better with hard times – Those who tackle problems or get support in tough situations tend to feel less depressed.
  10. Seek professional help if you need it – More than 80 percent of people treated for depression improve.


For more information on how to integrate these practices into your personal and/or family life, visit Live Your Life Well.

The Villa Orlando and Pasadena Villa’s Smoky Mountain Lodge are adult intensive psychiatric residential treatment centers for clients with serious mental illnesses. We also provide other individualized therapy programs, step-down residential programs, and less intensive mental health services, such as Community Residential Homes, Supportive Housing, Day Treatment Programs and Life Skills training. Pasadena Villa’s Outpatient Center in Raleigh, North Carolina offers partial hospitalization (PHP) and an intensive outpatient program (PHP). If you or someone you know may need mental health services, please complete our contact form or call us at 407-215-2519 for more information.

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If you’re ready to take the next step in the recovery process for you or your loved one, the compassionate team at Pasadena Villa is here to help. Give us a call at 407.574.5190 or complete our contact form.

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