Those who have experienced dips in their mental health are familiar with the sense of dread that settles when you feel yourself relapsing. Relapsing is scary because you don’t know how bad this next episode will be. Fortunately, there are a few symptoms to look out for to help you spot an upcoming relapse and prevent it from developing into a full-blown episode.
- Change in appetite.
There are many reasons why your appetite can change–stress, anemia, hormonal changes, or reaction to medications. However, a mental health relapse can also cause changes in your appetite. You may find yourself eating either less or more than you usually do. There may be a neurological reason explaining your change in appetite. Research has shown that people with depression showed activity in the mid-insula, a region that controls food pleasantness.
If you experience changes in your appetite, notice them. But, do not pressure yourself to change how much you are eating because you think that will stop the symptoms. Instead of focusing on the symptoms, take some time to reflect. Figure out what emotions are causing these changes and reach out to a therapist for guidance.
- Loss of motivation.
During a relapse, you may notice a decrease in motivation. A loss of motivation is a hallmark sign of depression. So, it is no surprise that you may experience it during a relapse. You may not want to engage in activities that you usually do. This symptom can apply to hobbies or relationships. In relationships, you may feel less interested in seeing friends or less attracted to your partner.
If you feel less motivated, that’s fine. You’re allowed to feel that way. Try to find time in your day to do something that you enjoy. Take time to take care of yourself–physically and emotionally.
Another sign that you could be relapsing is restlessness. Before a relapse, you may feel a bit anxious or like you want to pace. This symptom is by stress–emotional or otherwise. A factor that can cause this symptom is hyperarousal. Hyperarousal is a common symptom of PTSD. But, it can also affect those with depression, anxiety, and eating disorders.
When you feel restless, channel that energy into working out. Working out will help you feel better since it increases hormones that reduce stress and boost your mood.
- Change in sleep schedule
A change in your sleeping patterns is another sign of a mental health relapse. Sleep aids everything from growth to digestion. Hence, making it essential to our overall health and well-being. However, when you go through mental health difficulties, your sleep changes. Some people do not sleep at all, and others sleep all day.
During a relapse, you may experience trouble falling asleep, waking in the middle of the night, or not feeling rested when you wake up.
Sleep changes are usually caused by stress. So, if you find yourself ruminating when you lay down to sleep, make an action plan before bed and tackle your worries tomorrow. If it is a persistent problem, reach out to a therapist for help.
- Dwelling on things.
Rumination can also take on a different form–overthinking. Overthinking or dwelling on things can also be a sign that your mental health might be declining. You might find yourself feeling a bit more self-conscious or insecure. You may also start feeling guilty or worthless about past events. These thoughts arise when your self-esteem is not so high.
If you find yourself feeling guilty over things you do not need to feel guilty about or insecure about yourself, take care of yourself. In doing so, you are affirming your needs and your value.
A common sign that you might be heading for a mental health relapse is irritability. Yes, you are allowed to feel irritated about a situation. However, you are not allowed to take it out on others.
Irritability is a sign of low tolerance to stress. Low tolerance to stress can lead you to resort to anger or annoyance as a form of expression, and therefore you are more likely to end up snapping at someone.
If you feel easily annoyed, take some time to figure out what is causing you stress. Make a plan to tackle the thing that is causing you stress. And, as always, if you need help, reach out to a therapist.
Therapy is a great tool for you to prevent a full-blown episode since it will teach you how to manage your symptoms better. Another tool is exercise. Working out can help you fight these symptoms and improve brain function.
I hope these points can help you slow down or manage your mental health relapse.
Cuncic, A., & Marsh, A. (2021, April 29). Is your depression coming back? Signs of a depression relapse. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/depression-coming-back-signs-of-a-relapse-5094675.
Morin, A., & Goldman, R. (2021, February 25). What to do when you have no appetite. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-to-do-when-you-have-no-appetite-4799769.
Semeco, A. (2021, June 18). The top 10 benefits of regular exercise. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-benefits-of-exercise#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2.
Simmons, W. K., Burrows, K., Avery, J. A., Kerr, K. L., Bodurka, J., Savage, C. R., & Drevets, W. C. (2016). Depression-Related Increases and Decreases in Appetite: Dissociable Patterns of Aberrant Activity in Reward and Interoceptive Neurocircuitry. The American journal of psychiatry, 173(4), 418–428. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2015.15020162
The Dawn. (2021, June 16). 10 red flags that you may be slipping back into depression. The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab Thailand. https://thedawnrehab.com/blog/10-red-flags-that-you-may-be-slipping-back-into-depression/.
Smith, A., & Legg, T. J. (2019, August 20). 12 signs of a depression Relapse: Prevention tips and more. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320269.