How do you know if you have a psychiatric emergency?

According to the American Psychological Association, these are signs of an "emotional crisis:

  • Neglect of personal hygiene (e.g., not showering)
  • Sleeps much less or more than usual.
  • Significant increase or decrease in weight.
  • Reduced performance at work or school.

Updated on March 12, 2023

Urgent and urgent psychiatric symptoms and signs

As you move toward stability, there may be times when you need to call your psychiatrist urgently to schedule an additional appointment or even go to the emergency room, but how do you know when that will happen?

Symptoms and situations that require seeing a psychiatrist or going to the ER

Let's look at the symptoms and situations that may warrant a visit to a psychiatrist or emergency room, and how to help loved ones in this situation.


Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of toxicity and overdose of any medications you are taking. If any of these symptoms occur, call your psychiatrist immediately. Also, if the side effects of medications become intolerable or interfere with your daily activities, see your psychiatrist immediately.

Psychiatric symptoms

It is important for people with bipolar disorder to see a psychiatrist right away if you are experiencing an acute bipolar episode, whether it is manic, depressive or a mixed trait episode.

According to a 2008 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry , other emergencies include:

  • Suicidality
  • Aggression
  • Legal difficulties
  • Functional disability
  • Dysfunction and problems at work
  • Marriage problems

Of course, this list is not exhaustive. If you develop any new, troubling symptoms or personal concerns, contact your psychiatrist.

Seek medical attention immediately

If you are thinking about suicide or self-harm, seek medical help immediately.

Make a plan together with your psychiatrist

Most psychiatrists have preferences about when to make an appointment, when to call them urgently, or when to go directly to the emergency room.

Discuss these rules with your doctor at your first appointment.

Know Thyself

Recognize your warning signs-your personal "red flags" of impending mood swings. If you see any signs, see a psychiatrist as soon as possible.

How to recognize urgent psychiatric symptoms in loved ones

If a friend or loved one has bipolar disorder, together you can make an emergency and crisis plan.

Although a friend or loved one's psychiatrist cannot divulge information to you, you can certainly contact them to express your concerns and ask for advice on how to handle a difficult situation.

If you suspect that your loved one has some kind of mental health problem, please try to intervene and help them.

According to the American Psychological Association, these are signs of an "emotional crisis:

  • Neglect of personal hygiene (e.g., not showering)
  • Sleeps much less or more than usual
  • Significant weight gain or loss
  • Reduced performance at work or school
  • Significant change in mood, such as feeling irritable, angry, anxious, or sad
  • The abandonment of familiar activities, tasks, and attitudes

Other disturbing symptoms include paranoia or if your loved one is experiencing visual or auditory hallucinations - seeing or hearing things that others can't hear.

However, this list is not exhaustive, so follow your intuition if you think your loved one needs psychiatric help.

If your loved one needs help finding a mental health professional, convince them to talk to their doctor. Likewise, the person's place of employment can help if they have an employee assistance program called an EAP.

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