Too often people wait until they are deeply engulfed in anxiety and depression before taking care of their mental health. We want to help you notice some early warning signs, so we asked mental health professionals what indicators of poor mental health people usually ignore. Keep in mind that these aren’t signs you have depression, anxiety, or another disorder. These are simply things you should note so you can make changes yourself, with your support system, and/or a mental health professional so you can function at your best.
1. You want to take risks
Psychotherapist Jonathan Schnapp said most of his patients are high-functioning professionals who feel stuck in their lives. He said, “Sometimes people find themselves contemplating taking risks, or doing things impulsively, that put whatever stability they’ve built at risk. They know it’s self-destructive but find themselves throwing caution to the wind, doing something they rationally know will not bring them any lasting joy.” These can escalate to a point where they have the potential to destroy family, career, or life.
2. You can’t get comfortable in bed
Carolyn Robistow is a Licensed Professional Counselor says we carry stress and anxiety physically as well as emotionally. “So sometimes even not being able to get comfortable at night can be a sign of stress or anxiety.” Everyone has times when their pillows just won’t sit right, but if you’re consistently tossing and turning, you should recognize it as a sign of pour mental health.
3. You’re spending more time on Insta
Robistow also explained that an increase in “numbing” activities — anything from scrolling through Instagram to increased exercise — can indicate an increase in stress. She says we tend to disguise these as healthy or self-care, but ignore the fact that we are using them to ignore uncomfortable feelings.
4. You faint or feel constantly dizzy
Psychologist and co-founder of Remente, Nils Eek said, “Stress and anxiety can cause disruption to your blood flow.” He said this disruption of blood flow “can leave you feeling dizzy, and if it takes too long to balance your oxygen levels it can cause you to faint.” A quick fix is deep breaths; A long-term fix is addressing the underlying issues.
5. You body hurts (for no apparent reason)
Similarly, your body reveals stress through body pains. Eek also said, “As the body starts to feel something that feels unknown or uncomfortable, adrenaline is rushing through the body, preparing it to cope with whatever danger is approaching — ‘flight or fight’ mode. When this happens, adrenaline increases our blood pressure as well as our blood supply. This may cause the muscles around our spine to tense and spasm.”
6. You’re not doing so hot at work
Psychotherapists Lin Anderson and Aaron Sternlicht note that “Poor concentration, slow processing speed, and inability to retain information are also symptoms of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.” He explained that research points to shrinkage in certain points of the brain which can impact decision making and memory — making work challenging.
7. You constantly get sick
Your immune system’s strength is impacted by a variety of factors including stress, lack of exercise, and even loneliness. So if you seem to catch every bug that slips into the office, it may be a sign that your overall mental health isn’t in tip-top shape.
8. You feel stuck
Mindfulness coach Susan Petang says that when people feel like they’re destined to be stuck with life the way it is forever, it’s an indication that something is wrong. So if you start believing you can’t change your future, it may be a sign that you need to do something to improve your mental health.
9. You can’t fall asleep
An active mind makes falling and staying asleep challenging. Molly Bahr, who is a licensed mental health counselor, says, “If you find yourself planning ahead and thinking of worst case scenarios when it’s bed time you might want to look into what could be driving this.”
10. You don’t enjoy things you used to love
Schnapp also said it’s important to note if you start to be disinterested in things you used to like, “Perhaps the things that once brought you joy are no longer pleasurable to you. You might have started feeling apathetic towards what you are doing.” If this is you, find a way to get the help you need.