In 1992, the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) declared that October 10 to be “World Mental Health Day”. Now, celebrated by over 150 countries around the globe for over 27 years now, mental health has quickly become one of the most pressing social advocacies of its time.
In spite all of this, however, there’s still a startling number of people who fail to realize just how important mental health can be. Emotional exhaustion is a serious concern and burnout is already considered a mental illness by the American Association of Psychology (APA, 2013). Both of these problems are a result of neglecting your mental health.
If you’re wondering what are the warning signs your mental health may be at risk, here are 5 of the easiest ways you can tell if your mental health is falling apart:
1. Your sleeping and/or eating pattern has changed
If you’ve been having a hard time sleeping or eating right lately, then that’s a serious red flag for your mental wellbeing. This can take the form of either sleep deprivation, oversleeping, overeating, or not eating enough. Studies show that dramatic changes in a person’s sleeping and/or eating patterns are often associated with poor personal care (Kilgore, 2010; Polivy & Herman, 2005). Both are essential to not only your physical health, but your mental health as well.
When you don’t get the rest you need, it can make it difficult for you to concentrate and be productive. It makes you more irritable, anxious, and stressed. On the other hand, an unhealthy diet can lead you to become less energetic, self-confident, and more prone to depression.
2. You have unstable moods
Another common sign of poor mental health is having frequent mood swings. When you find yourself feeling easily irritated or distressed by even the most minor of inconveniences, your mind might be crying out for help. These sudden or intense shifts in your emotions are most likely caused by emotional exhaustion or overworking yourself. This tells you that you are already badly in need of a break.
When you’re not taking care of yourself or forgetting your emotional needs, it makes it harder for your brain to function and regulate what you’re feeling like it normally does. Because of this, you might find yourself feeling stressed out all the time, unmotivated to do anything, or overwhelmed by everything going on in your life. In extreme cases, some people even experience anxiety and panic attacks from not being able to cope with the emotional stress.
3. You feel disconnected from everything
Social withdrawal and isolation is one of the worst consequences of poor mental health. When this happens, you begin to lose interest in social activities and no longer enjoy spending time with others, even your loved ones. You feel disconnected from them and everyone around you, and you may become apathetic and emotionally numb despite being outgoing or friendly before.
This is a critical sign that you need to start taking better care of yourself, mentally. Isolating yourself from others can make it harder for them to help you, so you need to do your best to help yourself. If not, you may experience chronic feelings of loneliness, emptiness, and hopelessness, which will make it harder for you to improve your mental health.
4. You feel down most of the time
If you are experiencing depressive moods, this is a cause for concern when it comes to your mental health. Aside from being moody and irritable, a lot of the time, people whose mental health is hanging on by a thread will seem disinterested, unmotivated, and exhausted. When you find that it’s hard for you to feel any sort of pleasure anymore, even from things that used to make you happy, then it’s time to start taking better care of your psychological wellbeing.
5. You have difficulty concentrating
Finally, having difficulty maintaining your focus and finishing tasks (no matter how easy) is one of the most obvious ways to tell if you’re taking care of your mental health or not. If you find that it’s harder for you to concentrate, recall information, analyze problems, or even verbalize your own thoughts, then you’re definitely suffering from mental exhaustion.
Majority of people with declining mental health show signs of impaired cognitive functioning (Stetz et al., 2007). Commonly known as “brain fog”, this can happen when you’re putting too much on your plate (mentally, physically, or emotionally) and not allowing yourself the time needed to rest your mind and do things you enjoy.
Today’s industrialized, fast-paced society makes it so easy to neglect your mental health in favor of keeping up with your hectic schedule, but no matter how busy you get, you should always find time to attend to your self-care and emotional well-being. In fact, doing so has been proven to make you happier, physically healthier, and more productive at work (World Health Organization, 2001).
Knowing the signs of mental illness can save your life and keep you from spiraling into depression or anxiety. If you struggle with any of these issues, reach out to a mental healthcare professional today and get the help you need.
- World Health Organization. (2001). The World Health Report 2001: Mental health: new understanding, new hope. World Health Organization.
- Killgore, W. D. (2010). Effects of sleep deprivation on cognition. In Progress in brain research (Vol. 185, pp. 105-129). Elsevier.
- Polivy, J., & Herman, C. P. (2005). Mental health and eating behaviours: a bi-directional relation. Canadian Journal of Public Health/Revue Canadienne de Sante’e Publique, S43-S46.
- Stetz, M. C., Thomas, M. L., Russo, M. B., Stetz, T. A., Wildzunas, R. M., McDonald, J. J., … & Romano, J. A. (2007). Stress, mental health, and cognition: a brief review of relationships and countermeasures. Aviation, space, and environmental medicine, 78(5), B252-B260.