At least 1 in 4 people in the UK will go through depression in their life. Every one of us goes through ups and downs as a normal part of life.
If you live with a mental illness, it’s vital to be watchful for the signs that your emotional wellbeing is taking a turn for the worse.
At least 50% of people with depression will have at least one relapse. However, knowing what these red flags are and acting on them could help to prevent a serious downward spiral.
Assistant directo of Mental Health Foundation, Dr Antonis Kousoulis has released the warning signs to be aware of in ourselves and others.
- Sleep problems
‘Sleep disturbances are a classic physical symptom that someone’s mental health may be deteriorating,’ says Dr Kousoulis.
Finding it hard to fall asleep at night or waking in the early hours can be a sign of depression. On the other hand, not feeling the need to sleep at all could indicate the onset of bipolar hypomania.
- Eating too little – or too much
‘Mental health problems often have an impact on appetite; it’s important to note how dramatic or persistent the changes are,’ she explains.
On its own, a change in appetite may not be anything to worry about. However, combined with other symptoms, it could suggest your mental state is taking a turn for the worse.
- Loss of interest in everyday activities
If you can’t summon up the energy or enthusiasm for the things you usually enjoy, and find yourself cancelling plans, take it as a possible warning sign. ‘Often, such symptoms only last a few days, but it’s important to understand your limits and capacity and take action if they’re persistent,’ Dr Kousoulis advises.
- Changes in sexual desire
When depressed, some people feel too exhausted for sex. They feel hideously unattractive and don’t even want to be touched. On the other hand, people experiencing mania may notice a surge in their sex drive and can’t get enough. Changes in either direction could be symptomatic of mental illness.
- Problems coping with daily stresses
Stress as a condition is not the same as depression. However, if molehills are turning into mountains and you’re finding it hard to cope with stresses that you’d usually take in your stride, see your GP.
‘Irritability and difficulty concentrating, could be an early sign of anxiety or other mental health problems,’ Dr Kousoulis says.
- Emotional sensitivity
If you’re usually an impassive sort but find yourself literally crying over spilt milk or are constantly on the verge of losing your temper, be aware of the possibility that your mental health is worsening.
- Withdrawing from social contact
Depression tells me some people they are a burden and should just quietly disappear from everyone’s life. So the person cancels plans and goes into a self-imposed exile. But if you’re mentally unwell, surrounding yourself with understanding people is more important than ever.