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What to Do When a Loved One Is Engaging in Risky Behavior

What to Do When a Loved One Is Engaging in Risky Behavior

Throwing caution to the wind can be a very good step in certain situations, but a lack of abandon can also do harm. Risky behaviors are part and parcel of certain mental health conditions and it’s important to recognize when there might be an issue that goes above and beyond simply acting boldly.

You know your loved one best and you find that they’re acting far more recklessly than normal and you’re tired of watching helplessly. Well, you’re making a great first step by reading this.

Below, Dr. Diana Ghelber and the team here at Institute for Advanced Psychiatry take a look at what might constitute risky behaviors, what mental health issues risky behaviors are associated with them, and how you can get them the help they need.

Defining risky behavior is tricky

One person’s reckless behavior may not be defined by another as being reckless at all, which can make defining risky behaviors tough.

A good rule of thumb is to think of risky behavior as something that can lead to physical harm, as well as financial, emotional, or social harm.

As examples, many of these behaviors might be defined as high-risk:

Impulsivity plays a large role in high-risk behaviors as a person doesn’t think through their actions and the consequences.

Again, risky behaviors can be hard to truly qualify and they depend very much upon the person. For example, someone who is an adrenaline junkie and who is always game to parachute out of an airplane may not be cause for concern. A person who has a job and family and who suddenly starts drinking to excess, driving under the influence, and losing money at the casinos would likely classify as engaging in abnormal and unhealthy risk-taking.

Possible mental health issues behind risk-taking behaviors

There are many mental health conditions that include risky behaviors and impulsivity among their symptoms, including:

To give you an idea, for the nearly 3% of adults in the United States who have bipolar disorder, this condition typically features manic episodes, during which high-risk behaviors and impulsivity are common.

Or, for the 21 million adults in the US who have depression, suicide or substance misuse are always concerns.

What you can do

As we said, you’re already taking a great step toward helping your loved one by reading this. Your next step is to contact us so that we can discuss the issue. It can be very hard to “force” a loved one to seek help, but there are ways to better go about it, which we can discuss.

To illustrate this, let’s go back to our bipolar disorder. During a manic episode, the person is simply not aware of their behaviors and often requires hospitalization so that they don't harm themselves or others.

If it's a less severe issue and you think your loved one will listen, it’s important to come from a place of love and concern rather than anger so that your loved one doesn’t shut down. 

For more help with getting your loved one the help they need for their overly risky behaviors, please contact us at the Institute for Advanced Psychiatry in Granbury or Fort Worth, Texas, to set up a consultation.

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