Is exhaustion starting to get the better of you? Our guest, Amanda shares tips to identify some of the underlying reasons why we may be feeling inexplicably exhausted.
Wherever you live, mental health issues are likely prevalent. There are so many who are tormented by symptoms which often seem to appear out of nowhere and even though there is much more awareness, many still feel ‘shame’ which hinders them seeking help to deal with a difficult situation.
If you feel like you, or someone in your family, is possibly going through a mental health issue, here are a few things you need to know when it comes to identifying mental illness in its early stages and seeking the appropriate help sooner rather than later.
What is a mental health issue?
There are many mental health conditions which make up the spectrum of mental illness. A mental health issue can affect many aspects of your mood, your behavior and your thinking; it can make you feel not like yourself anymore.
Some examples of mental health issues include depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia and other addictive behaviors.
Identifying the First Signs
Like any other illness, a mental health issue can exhibit signs and symptoms that are hard to miss. The most important thing is to pay attention to each of these signs and to seek help as soon as possible if they continue to persist. Keep in mind that one or two symptoms alone may not predict a mental illness but if someone is experiencing several at the same time, it can be a strong indicator of an underlying mental health issue.
- Mental and physical exhaustion
One of the most common symptoms of mental health issues is the feeling of being physically drained and exhausted for no apparent reason. It is not the same feeling as being tired after a workout. While people with mental illness often experience lack of sleep, this type of exhaustion isn’t always a result of this fact.
Exhaustion in mental illness is so much more. A person can find it hard to keep up with others around them or simply find themselves going about their day-to-day tasks without purpose. Being mentally exhausted can leave us feeling numb and drained and it is a symptom of mental illness often brushed off or mistaken for simple lack of sleep.
- Excessive fears or worries
It is not rare for a person suffering from a mental health issue to experience excessive fears or worries about any number of things. Most commonly, a person will worry about their safety but can easily take it to an extreme. However, it doesn’t have to become extreme for it to indicate an underlying problem. Experiencing excessive fears and worry can easily be tied to an anxiety disorder and the person can end up becoming obsessed with these. If you notice this unusual behavior in someone you should definitely contact a professional and ask help so that the person can feel safer and more at ease.
- Extreme anxiety and nervousness
Another common symptom of mental illness is extreme anxiety that can be found in many cases of people dealing with anxiety disorders. Anxiety is difficult to deal with and especially if someone is faced with a mental health issue, it can be even more difficult to manage. Anxiety can start exhibiting in a slow manner like simply being nervous about everyday things. The problem that can then occur is that the person will start experiencing more and more intense episodes of anxiety when the problem is left untreated.
A good place to start is identifying signs such as heart palpitations, cold and sweaty hands or feet, shortness of breath and the inability to stay calm and still. Not all cases will showcase these symptoms but they can be a good indicator of a more serious problem.
- Social withdrawal
Many who suffer from a mental illness withdraw from their group of friends and peers and prefer to abstain from most, if not all, social activities. The problem here is that while they really need people around them, they will prefer to stay at home as they tend to believe that no one will understand how they feel and judge them for it. If you notice that a friend or a family member keeps declining your invitations, or is avoiding social interaction, make sure to talk to them and tell them you understand. Sometimes, the feeling of acceptance can be the first step towards getting help for a mental health issue.
- Intense mood swings – feelings of highs and then sudden lows
Mood swings that happen often, without anything in particular provoking them can be a very early sign of a mental illness. Persistent feelings of sadness can be an indicator of depression and should not be taken lightly, especially if they are persistent. Even if you come to find that you or a friend has extreme lows which are then replaced by a euphoric mood and this situation has been happening for quite a while, it can be a sign of various mood disorders such as bipolar disorder and should be discussed with a mental health expert.
- Strange thoughts and hallucinations
Psychotic disorders can often include hallucinations and a distorted way of thinking. If you or a person in your family is experiencing this, it is important not to panic and to seek help immediately. This is a sign that cannot be ignored. Firstly, help the person feel safe and then contact a health care practitioner in order to help them understand and learn how to cope with mental health issues.
- Dramatic changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
Another sign that is also very common in those facing a mental health issue, is a dramatic change in sleeping and eating habits. A lack of appetite is a very common sign of depression and anxiety. On the same level, it is not rare for a person to find themselves lay in bed for hours, simply being unable to sleep. At the same time, the person might start taking less and less care of themselves which is often connected to the physical and mental difficulties the person is enduring.
- Suicidal thoughts
Suicidal thoughts and behavior are more common in mental illness than you might think. While a person might not act on these thoughts in the beginning, it is not rare for them to consider harming themselves in other ways. If you or a person you know is having suicidal thoughts, it is important that help is sought.
The Physical Effects
Among the symptoms that were previously highlighted, mental health conditions can also affect a person’s physical health and wellbeing. Apart from the ones mentioned above, some more of the most common physical symptoms include:
- weight loss
- loss of libido
- amenorrhea in women
- constant muscle tension
- digestive problems
- hot flashes/flushes
Recognising some of these could possibly help detect any underlying mental health issues.
Helping a Loved One
If someone you care about is displaying signs of mental illness, be open with them and let them know about your fears and concerns. While you may not be able to convince them to get medical help right away, you are letting them know that they have people around them who understand and want to help. It’s important that they feel safe and supported which is a first step to help them on their road to recovery.