Mental health is a very important aspect of our overall health. However, the signs and symptoms are mostly overlooked and commonly mistaken as fatigue.
As hectic individuals, we may never notice that our mental health is already compromised. We are so determined to achieve our goals that we get caught up and forget to check on ourselves.
It is normal to have ups and downs and experience problems that would make us upset, such as rejection, heartbreak, loss or grief. Depression and other mental issues can creep up out of nowhere without reason.
If you see these early warning signs, it is better to have yourself checked out by a professional than to suffer the consequences later.
You’re having trouble sleeping
Having sleep disturbances, changes in sleep pattern, or not getting any sleep at all is a first sign that you’re mental health might be deteriorating.
Not feeling a need for sleep is a sign of hypomania. On the other hand, having the need to sleep more, especially feeling like you are constantly exhausted might be an early sign of depression.
Change in appetite
Although this could also be a sign of something else, a person who is eating too little or too much is a sign of a mental health issue. On weekends, yes, sometimes we get the feeling of wanting to indulge, like your reward for the week. This is different.
When your appetite is extreme, for example, you don’t want to eat at all or you just want to eat too much, this could be a sign, especially if combined with other symptoms.
Loss of interest
When you feel like nothing interests you anymore, even the idea of going to your favorite place or eating your favorite food, this loss of interest can be an indicator that something is wrong.
Moreover, with mental health issues, you may find that you just don’t have the energy or the enthusiasm for the things you used to find pleasurable.
It is recommended that you take action if these symptoms persist for more than a few days.
Changes in sex drive
Heightened or reduced libido could be a sign your mental health is taking a turn. People with bipolar disorder who are experiencing mania may notice an elevated desire for sex as if they just can’t get enough.
If it is combined with the symptom of “not feeling a need for sleep,” then this may be a hypomania experience. On the other hand, a depressed person may not have the energy or the urge to have sex.
Changes either way could be indicative of mental illness and are worth paying attention to.
Having difficulties coping up with daily stress
We all get stressed on a daily basis. It could be your daily travel to work, the traffic, your workmates, your deadlines at work…
However, if you notice that you find it difficult to handle the daily stress you are used to and you find yourself exploding over simple things, it is likely time to seek professional help.
If you are very indecisive, this could just be natural to you, but other times, it may be a symptom. From what to cook for dinner or what to wear for the day, these simple decisions may overwhelm you. If you’re too exhausted to commit to a choice, along with having difficulty in concentrating and irritability, this may be a red flag.
You cry for no reason
As women, know that you do not need to be depressed to experience mood swings because our hormones fluctuate.
Recurrent emotional sensitivity or being emotionally sensitive for more than a few weeks could mean something else.
There are apps where you could keep track of your emotions on a daily basis, or you could put it in a journal.
In light of this, I’d like to share my story when I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder eight years ago. I hope that sharing how I got through it would inspire you.
Like just about everyone else, I go to work and come home to my family at the end of the day. But everything changed suddenly when started I noticing these signs:
- Being overly sensitive and irritable about petty things
- Snapping at my co-workers for something I couldn’t remember anymore and be upset with my husband for just changing the channel
- Crying uncontrollably for no reason quickly after becoming irritated about something
My daughter was a toddler at that time and I remember hating the noises she made. Believe me, I still feel very badly about that right now.
If this happened to you, don’t hate yourself for it. It’s not you. Other experiences that I had:
- I couldn’t sleep-it was like my brain didn’t know the difference between night and day
- I was so active at night that I wanted to talk non-stop without logic and direction
At that point, I really did not like what was happening to me, so I went to a psychiatrist. That was when I was properly diagnosed.
My psychiatrist told me that I had emotional baggage I needed to let go and that I needed to change my lifestyle. She prescribed medication. It was trial and error because my first medication made things worse. I stopped taking the original medication, but kept taking the mood enhancer medication.
I told her how I wanted to get well, how I wanted my daughter to see me happy and not snapping at her every now and then. I hoped and prayed for the medication and new treatment plan to work. I did my part:
- By dropping the emotional baggage I had
- By pushing myself to do sports (and I’m not sporty)
- By doing several types of high-intensity workouts, such as jogging every day by myself
- By going through cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) sessions with my psychiatrist once a week for a month
Thank God, up to this day eight years later, I still haven’t had a manic-depressive episode.
If you think there’s no way out, believe me, there is. Don’t give up, because once you do, you just give this illness power over you. There’s also nothing wrong admitting you feel something is off. That doesn’t mean you’re weak. It just means you’re human.
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