Psychiatric Emergencies: Emergency Room Tips 

Psychiatric Emergencies: Emergency Room Tips 

Most people know when to call an ambulance or bring their loved ones to the emergency room when they seem physically ill. But identifying a psychiatric or mental health emergency can sometimes be difficult.

A psychiatric emergency is a severe disturbance of conduct, mood or thoughts of a patient which if goes untreated can harm the victim and the surrounding society at large. Individuals can visit an ER voluntarily, involuntarily through police officers, health officers or a referral from another health professional.

What Emergencies Are Considered Psychiatric Emergencies?

Some of the common conditions that require psychiatric interventions may include:

Attempted Suicide

Suicide rates in the US vary across the country, the highest being in the urban areas. The most affected people are those between the ages of 15-40 years. Psychosocial factors that prompt people to attempt suicide include sudden loss (death, divorce, job, finances, and homes), recent demeaning life event, an unfaithful spouse, HIV, and legal problems and chaotic home environment amongst many others.

Agitated and Violent Patients

Violence is a danger often faced at many health centers.  The risk of violence is high in those communities with easy access to firearms and drug /alcohol abuse.  The destructive behavior is evident through symptoms such as pacing, slamming doors, clenching of fists or jaw, or being easily startled. It has links to conditions such as acute psychosis, acute intoxication, and paranoid, antisocial, narcissistic and borderline personality disorders.

Intoxication and Substance Abuse

Substance abuse acts as a depressant of the central nervous system; the early effects of intoxication shows through increased talkativeness, giddiness, and a loosening of social inhibitions.

Impaired judgment, concentration, or temporary memory loss could result in behavioral change causing injury or death. The victims may experience delusions and visual hallucinations, confusion, disorientation, and increased aggressiveness which can last for a few hours or a week.

Anxiety and Psychological Stress

Patients suffering from an extreme case of anxiety may seek treatment caused by underlying medical illness or psychiatric disorders such as panic disorder or generalized anxiety disorder.

Natural disasters and human-made hazards can cause extreme psychological stress like shock, panic attacks, intense nightmares, tormenting memories or depression in victims involved in the event.

When Should a Person Go to an ER for A Psychiatric Emergency?

Medical screening at FrontLine ER can help patients gain admittance to a mental health facility for treatment when necessary. Some of the indications that you or your loved ones should go for an emergency mental health evaluation include:

Risk of self-harm or harming others such as:

Announcing in person or on social media that they want to kill themselves or others

Frequent searching online about how to commit suicide

Taking steps such as getting a gun and stockpiling harmful pills

Giving away favorite belongings, making a will or writing a suicide note

Harming themselves by slitting the wrists

Becoming more violent and threaten others with a weapon

Destroying property or starting fires

Becoming paranoid and losing touch with reality

If the victim is in immediate danger, and you aren’t sure you can transport them safely, call 911 or your local emergency number, or head straight to the FrontLine ER.

Treatment of Psychiatric Emergencies at Frontline ER

Management of mental health emergencies at FrontLine ER is usually transitory, and it only serves to provide solutions to stabilize fatal conditions. When the patient arrives at the ER, the first step is to assess their medical situation. The emergency physician will ask about suicidal ideation as a part of the routine assessment. Such questioning helps patients feel at ease and relieved that the suicidal thoughts are only a part of an illness.

If the patient is violent, oral sedation, intramuscular or intravenous injections are administered to bring the patient under control before assessment continues.

Patients suffering from chronic conditions have to be monitored until the medical situation stabilizes, and afterward may be transferred to a psychiatrist at the earliest opportunity.

Treatments vary depending upon the patient’s condition.  Doctors can apply different methods of psychiatric medication, psychotherapy, or electroconvulsive therapy. Severely suicidal patients who are depressed need to be treated with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to provide relief from mental disorders.

Other treatment methods such as psychotherapy may be used to treat acute conditions or immediate mental problems.

This type of treatment requires the patient to understand that his or her issues are psychological. When the patient trusts the emergency physician, there is hope for change because the patient will be motivated to do so. The process of this brief emergency therapy includes the setting up of a primary complaint from the patient, understanding psychosocial factors, formulate and come up with ways to solve the problem, and setting specific goals.

If you are in Richmond or Dallas Texas, it is essential to seek medical advice if you or a family member is experiencing symptoms of mental health emergencies. Check in at FrontLine ER; we are ready to help you deal with such conditions effectively.


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