Focusing on wellness means touching on some serious subjects, and having meaningful conversations. While we always aim to be uplifting and inspiring, sometimes it’s important to remember that it’s OK not to be OK.
This week represents Mental Health Awareness Week across the UK and many other nations. With so many people in the world suffering with mental health issues, this really is something we need to be talking about, and something close to my heart.
Depression and anxiety are some of the most common mental health conditions. Yet so many people don’t recognise the signs. Many of the symptoms, causes and treatments are the same, and those who suffer will often experience both.
So how are you supposed to identify if you’re being affected – and what’s the biggest problem?
Here are some of the signs that you might have a mental illness, and what you should do to address the problem.
Could you be suffering?
Ask yourself the following questions, writing down yes or no for each one.
- Do you often feel gloomy or sad?
- Do you often feel hopeless or like you’ve let people down?
- Do you frequently feel the need to cry?
- Do you often worry about things?
- Do you feel stressed or tense?
- Do you ever struggle to concentrate or relax?
- Are you having problems falling or staying asleep?
- Have you noticed a bigger change in your appetite (either overeating or not feeling hungry)?
- Do you replay same scenario in your head?
- Do you often avoid social situations?
- Have you lost interest in the things you used to enjoy?
If the answer to most of these questions is ‘yes’ then you could be suffering from a mental health issue. Below we’ll cover the most common symptoms and how to get help.
Note: This is not an official diagnostic tool, if you think you are suffering with anxiety or depression, you need to speak to your GP.
You could be suffering from depression if…
We all feel sad sometimes, unfortunately that’s just a part of life! But those who are depressed will spend a great deal of their time feeling down. And this can often lead to feelings of hopelessness, like there is no way out or that you may never be truly happy.
It’s also common to have a change in appetite when you’re depressed, either overeating as a way of comforting yourself, or losing your appetite altogether. You may also find that you’ve lost interest in your hobbies, socialising or going out.
You could be suffering from anxiety if…
While those suffering from anxiety could experience similar symptoms to those of depression, such as change in appetite and sadness, they may also feel stressed and tense a lot of the time. It can be hard to relax due to intense worry and often thoughts that something bad is going to happen.
You may find that you have racing thoughts and this can have physical effects on your body. This might be shaking, heart palpitations, churning in your stomach or panic attacks. It may also mean you find it hard to concentrate on things, and struggle to motivate yourself to do activities you once enjoyed.
But remember, the two often go hand in hand, so it may be that you’re struggling with both. Identifying that there is a problem is the first step to addressing the issue.
What should you do?
If you think you are suffering from a mental health problem, whether anxiety, depression or any of the other issues, it’s best to seek help before it gets worse. It’s important to visit your doctor to see what they suggest. It may be the medication can help to take the edge off, they may also be able to suggest other ways you can feel better. They will also be able to help you work out what could be causing you to feel this way, so you can begin to make positive changes in your life.
Quite often there are online websites that can help you, perhaps chat rooms or wellness apps. Alongside this, regular exercise can be a great way to boost yourself. If you’re unsure of the mental health services available to you, do a quick online search. There are lots of options out there, you just need to find the one that best suits you and your circumstances.
Approaching someone about your mental health can be challenging, it seems to still be such a taboo subject, even today. But don’t be afraid! If it helps, maybe talk to a friend or family member beforehand. They might even come with you to speak to someone if you think this will help.
Mental health really is so important, and you need to look after yourself. If you think you could be affected, don’t suffer in silence. These issues may never fully go away, but they are manageable, and taking your health into your own hands will help you to feel calmer, happier and stronger!