Just about everyone recognises that health is better than illness. That’s why we all spend so much of our energy worrying about what foods we’re eating, or how much exercise we’re doing.
When it comes to our physical health, we tend to be pretty vocal. If someone you know is getting knee pain, they’re unlikely to be shy about it when asked. But mental health trouble can be more difficult to spot. Firstly, because the symptoms are inherently less obvious; and secondly, because despite recent advances, there remains a stigma surrounding mental health, and consequently we tend to be shyer about expressing ourselves when we feel down in the dumps. Suggest that someone has a mental health problem, and they might well be offended in a way that they wouldn’t be if you were pointing out, say, a muscular injury.
So how can you tell when someone you know and care about is feeling under the weather? Let’s take a look at a few classic signs.
Change in Mood
Mental health problems are often accompanied by a general change in mood. If you’re familiar with a person’s personality, and notice that it’s undergone a radical transformation, then it might be the change has been triggered by a decline in mental health.
Loss of Appetite
Anxiety and depression can trigger a loss of appetite. If you notice that a loved one has lost interest in food, then this might be a sign that they’re not feeling fantastic. Workplace stress is often the cause of this particular problem.
Loss of Confidence
Self-deprecation can be charming. But constant and severe self-deprecation is a sign that all is not well. If someone constantly criticises themselves, and blames themselves for every problem that arises, then they may need additional support.
A recovery from a serious physical injury can be a slow and difficult process. Anxiety and depression are common. The person might worry that they’ll never get back to where they were. They might suffer from loneliness, having been housebound for several months. The National Accident Helpline’s ‘Make it Right’ report highlights this issue. The medical negligence specialist found that 35% of accident victims suffer from stress during their recovery, and that 18% suffer from depression.
Those suffering from mental health issues tend to self-medicate. This is something that almost everyone does to some extent. After a stressful day at the office, we might unwind in the evenings with a glass of wine. But reliance on substances like drugs and alcohol can often indicate an underlying psychological problem.
Many mental health problems can prevent us from sleeping soundly. This create something of a vicious cycle, as a lack of sleep can exacerbate mental health problems. Chronic fatigue can undermine workplace performance and productivity, leading to further stress.