Your mental well-being is paramount as it affects your overall health. Most of the time, you notice when something starts to feel off. Whether it is a change in appetite or sleeping pattern, psychosomatic changes concurrent with a declining mental condition are the first things you notice. However, there are other ways your mental health causes changes in your life.
Changes in how we interact with others are not as subtle, but we tend to ignore or overlook how our behavior affects others around us. Below are five social signs that you might be struggling with mental health.
Self-isolation seems to be a common and easily recognizable sign of depression. It’s so common that most films use it to say someone is depressed. But, few people understand why those who struggle with mental health prefer to isolate themselves.
For people with depression or similar mental health conditions, social interactions can be draining for various reasons. The most popular reason is that people as you how you are doing. Asking someone how they are doing is not a crime in itself, and sometimes you want someone to take that into account. However, there is so much you can divulge without coming off as [find a better word: a mental patient.]
Regardless of how accepting or sensitive society seems towards those with mental conditions, there will always be people with biases or prejudices against mental health. For many years, within our collective consciousness, having or struggling with your mental health had a negative connotation. Hence, there will always be a stigma. Sometimes, the stigma is self-imposed. Thus, the fear of what others may think or say depending on how you respond may hinder you from many things.
Fearing stigmatization or shame, many choose to self-isolate as a way to protect themselves.
Evidence suggests that as your mental health declines, you are more likely to perceive ambiguous interactions negatively and less likely to perceive cues of acceptance and belonging in social interactions. Additionally, you may attribute the negative results to yourself, thinking that you are responsible for how others perceive you.
Whether a decline in the mental state or societal biases causes these shifts in perception, scientists cannot be sure. However, it is a sufficient enough reason that explains why you might resort to self-isolation when depressed.
- Social dysfunction
When you are depressed or struggling to cope with your mental health, it can be hard to be in social settings because of the reason stated above. But, there may be other contributing factors.
According to a series of studies conducted between 2004 to 2005 by Gotlib et al. and Mogg and Bradley, people with depression are less likely to perceive positive social cues of acceptance in social interactions because there is a subconscious preference towards sad faces, adjectives, and emotions. Perhaps, it is the equivalent of listening to a sad song when you are feeling down — there is a strange sense of empathy knowing that you are not alone in your sadness.
As a result, these studies stated that many depressed people fail in their quest to satisfy their need for belonging. Thus, often have fewer intimate relationships and experience more social rejection. Humans, by nature, are social creatures. But, if you never experience a close relationship or have your emotional needs met within these relationships, you will have a hard time finding and creating such relationships.
- Dulled reactivity
Another sign that you or someone you care for may be struggling with mental health is that they exhibit dulled reactivity. Studies from 1991 and 2001 assert this idea. They found that depressed people exhibited dulled reactions to negative and positive stimuli. However, a study from 2006 showed that depressed people showed greater reactivity to positive stimuli, specifically if the reward served to onset positive events.
But, life rarely presents us with positive events right after each other. Often, it is just the opposite. Hence, the studies conducted in the labs fail to provide dynamic interchanges and situational demands that can happen within a social context. However, they explain why it is hard to cheer up during a depressive episode.
In a social setting, depressed people exhibited greater reactivity to both kinds of stimuli. However, the symptoms relating to intimacy, enjoyment, and day-to-day stability in well-being remained low.
These studies involved patients who exhibited major depressive disorder. Patients with clinical depression may experience less reactivity to negative cues as a self-preserving strategy.
Thus, it is important to seek what makes you happy, practice self-care, and speak with a therapist who can help you navigate social situations and learn how to communicate your emotional needs in a relationship.
- Increased sensitivity
Along with increased sensitivity towards social cues, those who struggle with depression or other mental health conditions experience increased sensitivity in other respects. Specifically when it comes to empathy. A paper published in 2007 states that depressive patients have an elevated sense of empathy towards others. Hence, depressive patients are likely to assert self-blame. Those who suffer from depression or similar mental health conditions have a distorted concept of causality.
However, the increased sense of empathy may go beyond whether or not a person’s concept of causality is different. A person’s neuroarchitecture may play a role. Some scientists consider the limbic system responsible for empathetic reactions. Because the limbic system is affected when you are struggling with your mental health, your sense of empathy varies.
- Lack of connection.
Another sign that you may be struggling with your mental health is your lack of connection. Unlike the previous signs, this symptom manifests internally. You may go out of your way to limit your socialization or do things that prevent you from being excluded by others. However, all the while, you might feel disconnected from others.
Various factors contribute to a lack of connection, but many of them relate to how you react to social cues. As stated above, those who struggle with mental health show greater sensitivity towards negative and positive stimuli. If you mainly experience negative stimuli, you will be more likely to create or maintain superficial relationships.
Unfortunately, this lack of connection, whether subconscious or deliberate, will eventually erode the social bonds you have tried to maintain because a lack of connection affects how you communicate with others.
While depression and mental health conditions can make you feel isolated and alone, please reach out to others for help. I know you might have days where you will not want to, but try to reach out to others when you feel better. Socializing has surprising benefits to your health.
Always reach out to a therapist for help. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some knowledge and language to help you understand your condition better.
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