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Mental Health Support: What are the warning signs?

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Written by Sheza Ahmad

Bachelor of Science in Psychology

07 Jun, 2022

Mental health includes the well-being of your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how you feel, thinks, and act. Depending on your state of mind, it affects how you handle stress, relate to others, and decision-making. Just like physical health, mental health is essential at every stage of life.

How do I know I need mental health support?

The signs and symptoms of mental health issues vary significantly between people; therefore, there’s no one size fits all. Everyone’s mental health is unique so it’s important to pay attention to your individual needs.

The main thing to remember is mental health issues do not need to be “serious” for you to seek help. A lot of times, people struggle in silence because they do not deem the concerns to be big enough, but that’s a mistake. Over time, unresolved issues only become bigger and more problematic.

Therefore, it’s better to be safe. If you’re questioning whether or not you should seek help, you should. Your feelings and experiences are valid, and they deserve support.

What are warning signs?

Although your experiences are valid, and you can seek mental health support regardless of severity, there are things to look out for.

For example, if you feel stressed before a deadline, that’s normal. But if your stress prevents you from getting out of bed or being able to function, that’s a warning signal. That’s why mental health professionals focus on figuring out the seriousness of the issue by what impact it has on your everyday life.

The greater the impact on everyday life, the greater the cause for concern. Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to changes in mood, behaviour, and physical aspect.

Warning signs: mood changes

If you’re feeling low because of the loss of a loved one, that’s to be expected. You can seek grief counselling, but it’s not considered a warning signal because the sadness is natural and to be expected.

However, if you constantly feel low without a cause, it’s a warning sign. Feeling intense mood changes, such as deep sadness, outbursts of anger, extreme stress over daily life, and feelings of emptiness are just some examples of signs to pay attention to.

Warning signs: behavioural changes

When your mental health is not doing ok, it will show up in your behaviour. For example, you may start withdrawing from friends, family, and loved ones. You may struggle to engage in meaningful conversations with them. Additionally, you may lose interest in activities you once enjoyed.

If your emotions are intense, you may feel an urge to self-harm. That may look like self-cutting, excessive alcohol use, drug abuse, etc.

The changes in behaviour will show up differently for each person. If you always love going out, but suddenly never want to leave home, then it is a warning sign. However, if you’re a homebody then it’s not a warning sign. The key is to pay attention to any drastic behavioural changes.

Warning signs: physical changes

Mental and physical health are intrinsically connected. When your physical health isn’t doing well, it will affect your mental health as well and vice versa. Therefore, it’s only natural that you will experience physical symptoms. This is your body trying to tell you it needs support.

For example, you might experience sudden sweating, nausea, increased heart rate, and/or troubled breathing. You may also start experiencing disturbed sleeping patterns, either sleeping too much or too little. Additionally, you may experience changes in your appetite, anywhere from not eating at all to eating too much.

How to seek mental health support?

If you or a loved one experiences any of the above warning signs or feels like something is off, it’s time to seek support.

The first step in getting help is talking to an adult you trust such as a parent or caregiver, teacher, doctor, a close friend or sibling. While loved ones are not people to offer professional help, they can help you seek out the right resources. Plus, they can be there for you during your treatment journey by creating a safe space, holding you accountable to your goals, and comforting you outside of therapy.

The sooner you get help, the better. The longer you or a loved one goes without treatment, the more serious the symptoms may become. Plus, living life in a state of unease and struggle is no way to live. Everyone deserves a healthy state of mind.

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Sheza Ahmad

Bachelor of Science in Psychology

Sheza has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with Distinction and years of relevant work experience in the field of mental health. Her education, paired with her extensive work experience, feeds her passion to write about mental health.

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