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7 Warning Signs Your Mental Health Is Worsening

Mental health, just like physical health, affects everyone whether or not we are suffering from a mental illness. Our mental and emotional health can fluctuate from time to time depending on the stressors in our lives. This is one reason why I make it my mission week after week to bring to you all mental wellness education. My intention isn't to be an alarmist or have you self-diagnosing; rather, my intention is to put information out there that prompts you dear readers to check in with yourselves to gauge the direction your mental health and wellness is going and then take any needed decisive action to help you get back on track. But how do you know when it has gone a bit too far? Most of us can recognize when something is different; however, we often struggle with identifying when we need to start reaching out for additional supports rather than trying to continue our efforts to handle it on our own. This article will outline 7 warning signs that it is time to reach out to a qualified medical and/or mental health care professional.

The Little Things Don't Matter So Much

Blah. Meh. This is the thought or feeling that comes to mind when you think of your favorite activities or even the little things in life that you used to take enjoyment in. An overload in stress in your life can definitely be a culprit to these feelings. There is no room in your life for hobbies or other pleasurable activities because you are so busy trying to juggle your ever mounting to do list. Before long, it's not just that you are too busy but that you are just plain uninterested. When you have lost interest in and don't enjoy the hobbies and activities that you once did, this could be a warning sign of depression. Don't go at this alone. Try talking to a friend, family member, or mental health professional to help you rebalance.

What Social Life?

Interacting with people suddenly feels exhausting. In fact, the thought alone makes you feel more exhausted. And I know there is the, "but introverts" arguments. Hold on to your horses folks. This is not that. It doesn't matter if you are an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert. What was once your standard level of comfort interacting with others is now out the window. You find now that you have somehow slipped below what was your standard comfort level. Please pay attention to this. Generally, interacting with people provides a boost in mood. So, if you find that this is no longer the case for you, it might be a warning sign that there is a change in your mental wellness, and you need to get connected with a mental health professional.

Sleep Schedule? What's That?

It's Saturday and you had every intention of being up by 9:00am. Somehow 9 turned into 10. Then 10 turned into 11. Oh my, now it is 2pm and you are just rolling out of bed every bit of as exhausted as when you climbed in. The same thing happens on Sunday too. During your regular week, you find you are hitting that snooze button more times than usual. Irregular sleep schedules can be another signifier that there is increased stress in your life and a possible decline in your mental health. What to do if you are struggling to regulate your sleep? Our article "7 Tweaks to Your Habits for Better Sleep" provide some practical tips on how to develop a sleep schedule for yourself. However, as cautioned in the article:

If you have a sudden onset of sleep issues when there is no perceivable changes in your life or routine, go ahead and err on the side of caution and notify your doctor (who will probably ask you about some of the things listed here but I am the first to admit my articles are NEVER a substitution for medical advice and evaluation).

You've Become a Nervous Nelly

Your to-do list for today only has 3 things for you to accomplish; 3 pretty routine things that you have been doing. Yet, now for some reason, it might as well be 15 things. You start to feel overwhelmed, not knowing where exactly to begin. Your breaths become shorter, and your chest feels tight. You may even feel nausea. This feeling of mental overwhelm could be an internal reaction to excessive outside stress. "Wait, aren't those things you listed (shortness of breath, chest tightness, and nausea) symptoms of a heart attack?" you may ask yourself. If you have no pre-existing health concerns or family history probably not this time but by all means, please get it checked out anyway. Anxiety is a response to stress and it can cause a variety of both psychological and physical symptoms. Worsening anxiety often coincides with worsening mental health. To help you cope with this overwhelming feeling try journaling, meditation, or practice mindfulness. But don't skip out on contacting your medical provider for evaluation and to assess your options.

You Always Feel Drained

You got enough sleep. You have even been eating well. Yet for some reason, you constantly feel exhausted and drained. Long-term stress has been known to cause mental exhaustion. When you are in this exhausted and drained state, it often times proves difficult to get anything done. Some things you can try are practicing relaxation techniques and even trying yoga. However, my first rule of thumb will forever be to reach out to your medical care provider to rule out any medical/physiological cause to your symptoms.

You Can't Seem to Pay Attention

You have begun to notice that you feel scattered mentally. There is so much going on around you and you have great difficulty focusing on any of it. In the hustle and bustle of Western society, it is not uncommon for us to feel this way from time to time. Afterall, we are only humans adapting to modern world problems and issues. However, feeling a pervasive sense that things are just kind of spinning out of control may be a sign of strain in your mental wellbeing. It may start to exhibit itself in different ways. For example, when you are reading and you find it difficult to comprehend the passage in front of you. Or zoning out during conversations with others and finding yourself needing them to repeat themselves because you unintentionally stopped listening. This can be a sign of stress and poor self-care and a big hint that you need to follow up with a mental health professional.

Just Can't Stop the Feeling

Do you feel that something is, you know different? That you are having a harder time controlling the urge to take risks? You may find that you are acting more on impulse, indulging in things that you know that you probably shouldn't. Binging shows for hours. Play videogames for hours. Overcommitting to everyone's social causes and projects. Retail therapy. More sexual escapades than your usual. Drinking more. Experimenting with drugs. These excessive unhealthy habits have begun to creep their way into your daily life, and you are having difficulty controlling the feelings and controlling the impulses. This is definitely a tell-tale sign that there is a change in your mental health functioning, and you need to reach out to a medical professional for support.

If you have made it this far. Thank you, thank you, thank you. As a mental wellness coach this topic is of the utmost importance to me. It is an issue that I feel compelled to continue shining the light on. Of course, this list isn't an all-inclusive list and there may be things that weren't included (i.e., appetite and weight changes, self-injurious behaviors, suicidal ideation, etc.) that signal you need to contact your medical care team immediately.

​This article is not to be used for self-diagnosis purposes. The contents of both this article and this website are for motivational and informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a mental or medical condition.

Recognizing the signs that your mental health is worsening is crucial for taking appropriate action and seeking the support you need. It's important to remember that mental health conditions vary, and these signs may not apply to everyone. If you notice any of these signs in yourself or someone you care about, it's essential to reach out to a mental health professional for a comprehensive evaluation and guidance. We'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic in the comments below. Seeking help is a sign of strength, and early intervention can greatly improve outcomes and overall well-being. So please remember, wherever you are on this wellness journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading!

"Difficulties are just things to overcome, after all. ~Ernest Shackleton

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19 views2 comments


Jun 05, 2023

As always a great read. This is a great reminder to always check in with yourself when you don’t feel balance when something is off. I love how you encourage your readers to seek professional help if needed. There is such a stigma behind mental health. Keep bringing awareness to your readers.

Letecia Griffin
Letecia Griffin
Jun 12, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for chiming in! Sometimes these signs and symptoms sneak up on us. Hopefully, I have put the spotlight on some of them so that we can see it both in ourselves and our loved ones.

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