How to identify a mental health issue

Overall wellness of an individual is determined by early childhood experiences and a set of biological and socio-economic factors. That, naturally, applies to mental wellness as well. A sum of these elements serves as a foundation for lifelong health—a bedrock of sorts. However, both our everyday habits and the environment continue to influence the state of our being for the duration of our lives.

Mental health represents our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, which, in turn, determines our thoughts, actions, and the way we feel. It is imperative to keep in mind that having negative thoughts or feelings, experiencing tension or being in a bad mood due to an objective, familiar reason—internal or external—is fundamentally different from having a mental health disorder. On the other hand, not having a mental illness may not necessarily mean wholesome mental health either, as it, too, is influenced by a variety of financial, social, physical or other factors.

How can we spot a mental health issue?

Each of us gets to encounter obstacles at virtually any stage in life. Naturally, these must be overcome—one way or another. However, each individual builds a varied degree of resilience they need to tackle the many challenges and the amount of stress experienced as a result. 

Our mental stamina is not inexhaustible and works just like our physical tolerance—our ability to endure only a limited amount of tension in any given part of the body. Excessive strain leads to pain, which is precisely how we know we have exceeded our capacity. The same applies to our psychological capacity: the body communicates its depletion through symptoms.

13 Signs of a possible mental health issue

  • Keeping a distance with family members and not wanting to spend time with friends anymore.
  • Gradually losing interest in a variety of activities that were once enjoyable, such as art, strolls, dinner parties with friends, fascinating lectures, reading etc.
  • Disturbance of a customary sleep schedule—oversleeping or insomnia.
  • Drastic changes in eating habits—increased appetite or lack thereof.
  • Low energy in spite of the duration or quality of sleep.
  • Recurring negative thoughts, memories, and feelings that are impossible to shake off.
  • Intense despair and vulnerability.
  • Finding it increasingly harder to accomplish simple, routine tasks, such as work duties, childcare, or even cleaning up the bedroom.
  • Abrupt mood shifts, oftentimes leading to aggression and irritability.
  • Sudden and frequent bursts of feeling lost, afraid, and anxios; forgetfulness.
  • Reverting to tobacco, alcohol or drug consumption, or increasing the amount and/or frequency, if using already.
  • Contemplating harming oneself or another.
  • Experiencing visual, auditory or tactile hallucinations or delusions.

Common mental health disorders

Mental health issues may occur at any point and age, as it also one’s lifestyle and a combination of external factors, paired with genetics and early childhood experiences, that influence mental health.

One of the most commonplace mental disorders of today is depression, which may be experienced in mild, moderate or acute forms. 

Depression is primarily characterized by lowered self-esteem, lethargy, and bad mood. One usually begins to lose interest in hobbies or customary activities that were once fun and/or experiences frequent headaches, sleep disturbance or drastic changes in eating habits, lack of focus, and recurring negative thoughts and emotions, such as despair or guilt. It is imperative to understand that depression is much more than temorary sadness or grief—both natural feelings that may be experienced at any given point in time. Depression, on the other hand, is a combination of a number of symptoms outlined above and persists over an extended period of no less than two weeks.

Various anxiety disorders, such as panic disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder (SAD), are also quite common. Here, too, we must not forget that anxiety is more than worry, which is certainly more commonplace. Anxiety disorders are defined as recurrent states of excessive unrest with regard to imminent threat or overwhelming fear towards an object—interfering with our ability to function properly.

These two mental health disorders might occur simultaneously as well. 

However, there is a remedy for most mental ailments—just the way there is a solution to other issues we get to encounter in life. Official terms for these disorders merely point to a number of signs that are meant to ease the process of treatment—either independently or with the help of a certified tharapist. 

Knowing when to approach a mental health specialist

It is customary to consult with a physician and undergo treatment when one experiences physicial discomfort. Mental health infirmities, too, require equal amount of attention and it is imperative that one asks for help under any of the following circumstances:

•    Failure to cope with issues independently or with the help of family members;
•    Struggling to cope with everyday duties due to diminished energy and abilities.
•    Plummeting overall quality of life.

Mental health professionals are valuable guides through tough times, helping us navigate difficult situations and solve problems that may seem too much to handle on our own. Some of the common symptoms outlined above are meant to help you identify a potential mental health infirmity promptly, allowing you to seek help at a preliminary stage, and recover much more easily. 

With mild or moderate forms of mental health ailments, mere therapy might be sufficient to achieve tangible results. However, chronic or acute forms may often require medications, paired with therapy. Each individual requires a unique treatment plan, which must be formulated by a licensed professional. Our everyday habits, such as our diet, phsycial activity, and sleep schedule etc. also factor in. Adopting a healthy lifestyle does, in fact, lead to a heightened ability to handle day-to-day issues, including those related to our mental health.

We must not forget that preventive mental health care is available to us at any given point in life. It is an excellent way of acquiring the skills needed to counter stress and day-to-day issues, and ensuring that we are fully equipped to tackle greater challenges in the future with ease.

Mental health is more than mere absence of a defined disorder and tending to it is as important as working to ensure financial stability, working out in order to be physically fit or interacting with others for the sake of our social well-being.