Tips For When You’re Struggling With Mental Health
Sure, you’ve been anxious lately, but why does it seem like you can’t sit still or fully relax at all now? Your depression meds were working fine, but suddenly, you’re struggling to get out of bed again. Are your mental health symptoms worsening, or is it all in your imagination?
Getting a diagnosis for your mental health issues is often one of many steps to overall well-being. People often need therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes to correct mental illness. Sometimes, even if you take all the proper steps, your mental health will remain cyclical – you’ll have periods where it doesn’t impact you much, and other times it will derail your goals despite your best efforts.
Knowing how to spot the signs your mental health condition is worsening can help you jump in with coping strategies before things get too far. Too often, people wait until self-harm thoughts or behaviors settle in before seeking additional support. This blog discusses the signs your mental health is floundering and offers tips for how to move forward.
Signs You’re Struggling With Mental Illness:
Too often, family members and friends are surprised when someone commits suicide or engages in cutting or other self-harm. The signs of mental illness are easy to miss – especially if the person suffering is good at masking them in social situations.
If you or a loved one struggle with mental health having a list of symptoms to watch for can be helpful. This list is non-exhaustive because everyone is unique regarding mental health. The symptoms and warning signs of anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, depression, substance abuse, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and every other mental health condition vary.
Talk about this list with your therapist to create a personalized list for you, and let your loved ones know what your warning signs are so they can help when you’re struggling. Some warning signs of worsening mental health are:
- Drastic sleep or appetite changes.
- Changes in personal care habits.
- Hyperactivity or feeling like you cannot sit still or relax.
- Swift mood changes and increased irritability, including extreme highs and lows.
- Frequent angry outbursts.
- Social withdrawal or disinterest in social activities.
- Less interest in hobbies, sports, or other activities you enjoy.
- A drastic shift in your ability to function at school, work, or sports, or trouble performing familiar tasks. This can include trouble with concentration, memory, or speech.
- Being quick to overstimulation by sights, sounds, smells, or touch.
- Disassociation or feeling disconnected from your surroundings or the things happening around you. A sense that you’re watching your life instead of participating in it.
- Delusional thinking similar to a child’s belief in magic or having special powers.
- Seeing or hearing things that aren’t there.
- Feeling afraid, nervous, or paranoid.
- Changes in sex drive.
- An inability to identify your own feelings.
- Increased difficulties in relationships.
- Intense fear of weight gain or obsession with your appearance.
- Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm, such as cutting.
- Increased substance use.
What Makes Mental Illness Worse?
It can be challenging to point to a cause of worsening mental health symptoms, especially since many conditions are cyclical. However, some habits and events can influence the severity of your mental health disorder from time to time. Some of these are temporary and require additional support, while others are lifestyle habits you can change with the help of a qualified therapist.
Whether you’re suffering after losing a loved one, the end of a relationship, or another significant loss, grief can compound the symptoms of mental illness. For people with anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions, seeking additional support and coping strategies can help. For people without a diagnosis, however, grief can often be the spark that sets off a mental health struggle for the first time. Whatever the case, seeking grief counseling can help you move through your loss and learn to manage your mental health as you create a new normal.
Mental Health Stigma
The stigma surrounding mental health conditions and seeking treatment creates a perfect storm for worsening mental health. More than half of people with mental illness don’t seek treatment because they fear discrimination or don’t have supportive friends and family members. Moreover, many people who seek treatment don’t discuss their therapy with loved ones or seek additional support and accountability. Recent efforts to normalize mental health care have increased the likelihood of people seeking help, but many still avoid counseling.
Lack of Sleep
Our brains are much more powerful when well-rested. If you’ve had trouble sleeping for a prolonged period, you cannot expect your brain to function at its best – including the part of your brain that regulates mood and emotions. If you have trouble sleeping, talk to your healthcare provider about treatment options so you can count on your brain to get you through the trials of life.
Chronic Pain and Illness
A chronic condition that causes pain and affects your mobility or quality of life can impact your mental health. You need (and deserve) support to navigate the trials of medical appointments, losing or changing careers, relationships, and the loss of hobbies. With the proper support, you can learn to create a new life that honors your limitations while celebrating what you can still do.
Getting married, leaving a marriage, retiring, starting college, or moving across the country are substantial life transitions that can be troublesome to navigate. If you already struggle with mental illness, these transitions can exacerbate symptoms. Seek help as you create a new normal and a new set of routines.
Whether or not you use alcohol and drugs excessively, they can impact your mental health. Even one night of drinking can cause an increase in anxiety symptoms, including a racing heart and trouble concentrating. Many medications used to treat mental health conditions increase the effects of alcohol. If you struggle with mental illness, it’s best to drink only in moderation. Ask your doctor for guidance.
Tips For When You’re Struggling With Mental Health
If you’re new to managing mental health conditions or find yourself struggling more than usual, it helps to have a few strategies for pulling yourself out of the downward spiral. The coping skills that work best for you will differ from everyone else because of your unique diagnosis and personality. Try a few of these tools the next time you find yourself struggling, and make a note of which ones seem to work best.
Many people find it helpful to write these tools on notecards and keep them handy on the fridge, in their backpack, or in their car to pull out and reference when they need a mental health boost.
- Visit a support group.
- Call a supportive friend or family member.
- Go for a walk in nature.
- Sit in nature if you can’t find the energy to walk.
- Get some exercise and enjoy the endorphin boost.
- Call your therapist.
- Get a good night’s sleep – call your medical provider if you need help sleeping.
- Use a mental health app like Calm or Headspace to help you clear your mind.
- Take time away from work if you can.
- Give to others – volunteer or just do something nice for a neighbor.
- Practice mindfulness or deep breathing.
Find a Mental Health Professional
Reaching out to a behavioral health specialist can feel overwhelming if you’re struggling with mental health. Our team of qualified mental health professionals treats various conditions with empathy and compassion. When you contact our office, we’ll match you with the best provider for your needs. You deserve quality mental health care.