Have you ever been able to feel yourself catching a cold? Just before you fall sick, you can usually see signs of the flu coming. You feel tired, your head hurts, and your nose starts running.
Just like physical health, it is possible to recognise signs of deteriorating mental health as well.
In this video, we’re going to help you identify these signs so that you can intervene with appropriate measures and prevent developing a mental illness.
This video is only a useful list that will familiarise you with warning signs of poor mental health. Do not use this to diagnose yourself as only a qualified mental health professional can do that. If you do see these signs in yourself, we recommend you consult a therapist for further action.
Now let’s start describing the nine signs of declining mental health.
There is a dramatic change in your sleep pattern.
Have you been staying up later than usual for no particular reason? Do you find it necessary to watch shows or movies for you to be able to pass out? Many people need some kind of noise or distraction to keep them from thinking uncontrollable thoughts just before bed. Without the sounds and screens, these people lay in bed, tossing and turning for hours, unable to sleep.
You might also find yourself doing the exact opposite and sleeping more than required. According to research, excessive daytime sleep is strongly associated with clinical depression. Depression can also make you wake up hours before you’re supposed to and then make it impossible to fall back asleep.
Sleep disturbances are generally the first sign of mental health issues and increase your risk of suicide.
There’s a noticeable change in your appetite. Are you finding it hard to eat these days? Maybe you’re having trouble swallowing, feeling nauseous, or you don’t feel hungry at all.
The American Psychiatric Association lists appetite changes as the first warning sign of mental illnesses.
It’s also likely that you’re eating more than you should. Food is a source of pleasure and satisfaction. When you’re upset about something, it makes sense to indulge in comfort food. However, excessive eating to manage feelings is a sign you shouldn’t ignore.
It’s harder to do mental tasks. Are you facing difficulty in concentrating or remembering things? Do you often get distracted or spend hours procrastinating in spite of a pressing deadline?
If these issues are occurring frequently, it’s probably because your mental health isn’t at its best. Conditions like depression and anxiety are known to impact cognitive functions so they make it hard for you to learn and remember.
Research confirms that if left untreated, these illnesses can even reduce your brain volume.
You’re unable to work or be as productive as you want to. When you’re working or studying, does it take extra effort to get things done? Are you struggling with even simple tasks that seemed easy earlier? If you often feel that you didn’t get much done all day, it could be because of a drop in functionality.
You’re not necessarily lazy or incompetent, even though that could be the narrative in your head. When your mental health suffers, your ability to function takes a toll. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders notes significant impairment in functioning as an essential criterion for all disorders.
You’ve withdrawn yourself from people, places, and activities that you used to enjoy earlier. Do you find yourself avoiding things like phone calls, text messages, gatherings, or hobbies that you used to be enthusiastic about? Maybe you’re not interested in those things anymore or they seem like too much effort.
This is an important indicator that you’re not able to be your true self.
Closely related to this is a feeling of disconnection or alienation. Do you feel that the people in your life are too busy with their own things to be there for you? Does it feel like they don’t understand you or what you’re going through?
It’s very common for people with deteriorating mental health to feel isolated from everyone. It can be tough since support and reassurance is what you need the most at times like this.
You’ve been feeling very moody lately. Are you easily triggered by things people say or do around you? Do you feel more irritable or reactive than you’d like to?
HealthDirect, a government website from Australia, lists emotional outbursts as one of the top signs of mental illness issues. Bad mental health ends up making us cranky, prone to crying, and visibly disturbed.
You just don’t care anymore. Sometimes things get so bad that we stop caring entirely. This might look like extreme apathy. It doesn’t matter what happens, you feel indifferent and numb. This is definitely a red flag for mental health.
You’re drinking, smoking, or doing drugs as a way to escape. Whether you indulge in legal or illegal substances, it’s always your choice. But if you depend on these habits as your only effective coping mechanism, it becomes a problem.
Addiction is usually driven by social isolation but it becomes a vicious cycle. It’s a slippery slope from down here so catch yourself before a further decline.
Did any of these signs reflect your behaviour in the last six weeks? Is someone you care about struggling with the things we talked about? It’s probably a good idea to get some professional help as prevention is always better than cure. Let us know in the comments if this video helped you.