- There are many warning signs of declining mental health, including difficulty concentrating and learning, extreme mood changes, changes in eating habits, the inability to carry out daily activities and sleep problems.
- If you're facing a one or a few of these signs, please seek medical help from a medical professional.
10 Warning Signs Of Declining Mental Health
“It’s all in your head. Stop exaggerating.”
“You don’t need therapy. Pray to God and it would be fine. Therapy is just a money-making machine. Mental health issues are a scam.”
“You’re just too weak. Man up!”
Dear reader, don’t these retorts sound a bit too familiar? You probably would have heard it from your parents, partner or even best friend. These malicious comments could have hurt your feelings to a great extent or even instilled some self-doubt regarding your very own feelings. At some point, you might even believe them. But let’s take a step back and learn how to validate these feelings of helplessness, despair and sadness. Mental health might have been a huge taboo in your community but that does not mean that you should completely disregard its existence just to fit in the society’s expectation of a “perfect” human being. The first step for validation is awareness and education.
So, here are 10 Warning Signs Of Declining Mental Health — serving as a helpful tool for people who have mental health issues and for people who have yet to identify themselves as individuals with difficulties as such.
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Difficulty Concentrating & Memory Loss
For individuals who are oblivious to mental health issues, having trouble focusing in school or at work simply means laziness. However, memory loss and an inability to focus is actually a symptom of depression.
According to Natascha Santos, PsyD, a psychologist and behaviour therapist in Great Neck, N.Y, the processing speed or in other words, the ability to take in information quickly and efficiently is impaired in individuals who are depressed. Apparently, many areas of the brain are involved with the creation and retrieval of memories. Any irregularities in these areas including those areas that create depression symptoms can affect how you process those memories and influence your ability to focus.
Therefore, it’s quite evident that loss of concentration and memory loss is a symptom of depression where concentration requires you to reach a goal that you think it’s worth achieving and depression interferes with this, tremendously.
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Extreme Mood Changes
While mood swings are prevalent among many individuals due to stress and other underlying issues, extreme stress and declining mental health could definitely result in severe mood changes. This could be an indication of mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, personality disorders and schizoaffective disorder.
Mood swings experienced by individuals who have underlying mental health issues would include, feeling an extreme amount of sadness and feeling too tired. There would be an extreme shift in terms of their emotions.
One second, they’d be happy and the next minute, they’ll be lashing out at others especially, under an immense amount of stress. This could happen anywhere — work, school or even at home.
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Changes In Eating Habits
Now, this could mean two very serious issues — an eating disorder or depression. Either way, please get help!
Individuals with a fluctuating appetite or who binge eats when they’re stressed could probably have an underlying mental health issue. An extreme amount of sadness or stress could cause individuals to lose their appetite and basically, lose interest in everything they had once liked. It could even take hours or even days to get out of their bed. So, eating might not even be a priority.
These individuals might even face an extreme loss or gain of weight, depending on whether they stress-eat or don’t eat at all.
Inability To Carry Out Daily Activities Or Handle Daily Problems & Stress
These everyday tasks could range from hobbies once loved by these individuals or even the simplest of tasks such as brushing one’s teeth or showering.
Individuals who have declining mental health might be extremely tired and fatigued resulting in them being unable to complete their daily routine. Life might seem dull and they might lash out at the tiniest of things. Hence, they struggle to handle their daily problems effectively too.
They might even make rash and impulsive decisions as a result of being unable to cope up with their issues such as picking a fight with their colleagues over a simple issue. They might even go to the extent of hurting their loved ones.
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Multiple Inexplainable Physical Ailments
Well, contrary to popular belief, mental illness isn’t just “all in your head”. In fact, it affects your brain and your brain subsequently affects the rest of your body. Therefore, it would make the individual feel ill.
So, your unexplained body aches, headaches and diarrhoea might now have a detailed explanation for it. Among some of these physical ailments include muscle tension, pain, headaches, insomnia, feelings of restlessness, brain fog and stomach pain.
When these physical symptoms are caused or made worse by your mental state, it’s actually called psychosomatic. The reason? Well, our bodies are filled with key stress hormones —adrenaline and cortisol. They are in charge of increasing heart rate and blood pressure suppressing the digestive system and affecting the immune system. These stress hormones are not harmful or innately bad for you, it’s a natural part of our fight or flight mechanism, designed to protect us.
However, this would be different if you’re in a constant state of stress or anxiety, which could wreak havoc on your body due to your hormones being at an all-time high. Anxiety and depression can lower your pain tolerance too.
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Avoiding Friends Or Social Activities
Mostly, a large spectrum of individuals with declining mental health or unresolved mental health issues might avoid their friends. For people as such, their minds can’t think, feel, or act optimally. They would feel more miserable or stressed than usual especially with the feeling of disgrace, humiliation, or shame attached to it. They might attempt to sideline or conceal their side effects, and avoiding getting help too.
Struggling with declining mental health might also mean that they would feel detached in relationships with their loved ones due to their clouded brain and inability to pick up a phone call. This would be because of the emotional exhaustion that comes along with mental health issues.
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A feeling of hopelessness and worthlessness can trigger suicidal thoughts. Sometimes, when an individual thinks that his or her life is spiralling out of control, suicidal thoughts may occur.
There can be a variety of factors causing suicidal thoughts, sufferers might feel like ending their lives due to the prejudice faced on a daily basis. Sometimes, the feeling of inadequacy might trigger this especially with the prolonged usage of social media.
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Individuals with underlying mental health issues often use drugs and alcohol to self-medicate the symptoms of their condition. People who often abuse drugs or alcohol would resort to abusing those substances to cope with difficult and inexplainable, emotions or to temporarily change their mood.
Unfortunately, the exact opposite of the intended effect would occur. Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol would actually worsen the symptoms that they initially helped to relieve. They would sharply increase the symptoms or even trigger new symptoms that might be extremely unbearable.
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Now, your daily sleep could be affected in various ways, according to your existing or undiagnosed mental health condition.
For starters, anxiety can cause your thoughts to race, which can make it hard to sleep. Depression can lead to oversleeping: either sleeping late or sleeping a lot during the day or insomnia.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can cause nightmares or night terrors; and mania can make you feel elated or energetic so you might not feel tired or want to sleep.
Regardless of which issue you have, please seek a medical professional’s help if the situation prolongs. Sometimes, individuals with declining mental health might feel extremely tired despite sleeping for 8 hours.
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Poor Personal Hygiene
For those who are suffering from poor mental health, it is absolutely common for them to go into survival mode — putting your energy towards things that keep you going such as eating, drinking water and sleeping. Personal hygiene, like brushing your teeth or showering, might not be a priority for many due to not having enough mental energy for that.
This does not only affect showering or brushing teeth but might also constitute combing or washing your hair, having clean laundry, or simply, not putting much effort into your appearance. You might focus more on sleeping, binge eating or staring at the ceiling, instead.
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In a nutshell, if you face any one of these signs, it’s wise to consult a medical professional for help on how to cope with what you are going through.
Prioritizing your mental health is extremely important in these trying times. Scared of getting infected with Covid-19 on your way to the doctor? Well, fret not because, in today’s world of technology, many medical centres have gone online, offering fully virtual sessions.
In the midst of your declining mental health, it’s best to take a break, unwind and give yourself some unlimited self-care to prevent these symptoms from worsening. Hang in there, dear reader.