Mental health is an essential component of our overall well-being that influences our thinking, feeling, and actions. Just as physical health requires attention, so does our mental health. However, recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health issues can be challenging, as they often look differently for each individual.

In this article, we’ll explore the common signs and symptoms of mental health conditions while highlighting the importance of seeking professional help when needed. Here at Plus by APN, we exist to help you find your way through mental challenges while supporting overall physical health, recovery, and well-being. If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty with mental health, our team of professionals is here to help you seek better days.

Sadness, Hopelessness, or Emptiness

It’s normal to feel sad every once in a while, but for some people, sadness feels more pervasive. If you feel constantly distracted from happy moments or struggle to find fulfillment – especially when it comes to activities you used to enjoy – it might be time to ask for help.

Consistent feelings of hopelessness can manifest as fatigue or an inability to concentrate or make decisions. They can also cause someone to experience feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt. It may be that your friends and family start noticing you’re not quite yourself. Chronic feelings of sadness can significantly impact daily life, so it’s important to seek professional guidance when needed.

Excessive Worry, Fear, or Nervousness

Another feeling or experience that may indicate a mental health concern is excessive worry, fear, or nervousness. While most people feel anxious before a momentous occasion – like a big test, game, or performance – it’s not normal to feel this way on a daily basis. Excessive worry about everyday issues can also impact a person’s physical health, such as causing muscle tension and fatigue.

Having excessive worry, fear, or nervousness can cause unexpected panic attacks, resulting in physical symptoms like heart palpitations, sweating, and trembling. It can manifest as an intense fear of specific objects or situations, such as heights, flying, or animals, or it can even be the fear of being judged or scrutinized by others. If you’re constantly feeling like your heart is about to jump out of your chest, it’s time to talk to someone about your mental health.

Sleep Disturbances

Believe it or not, sleep disturbances can actually be an indication of a mental health issue. Sleep concerns may look like insomnia (not being able to sleep) or, on the opposite side of the spectrum, oversleeping. You may experience intense periods of energy, elevated mood, impulsivity, and a decreased need for sleep. Alternatively, oversleeping can look like not wanting to get out of bed to eat, work, or be around others.

A consistent sleep regime is recommended for optimal physical and mental wellness, with most people requiring about eight hours of sleep per night. If you or someone you know is having difficulty with healthy sleeping habits, it’s important to speak to a health professional for clarity and guidance.

Changes in Appetite or Weight

Just like a healthy sleep regime, maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for supporting mental wellness. While everyone’s weight generally fluctuates about 5-10 pounds throughout the year, drastic changes in weight or appetite isn’t typical. Of course, losing or gaining a significant amount of weight can sometimes be necessary to reach a healthy weight in the first place. However, if your doctor considered your previous weight healthy and it’s now changing – often at a rapid rate – it’s time to talk to a professional.

Another way that changes in appetite or weight can manifest as a mental health concern is through an intense fear of gaining weight, leading to restrictive eating and distorted body image. This can manifest itself as episodes of binge eating followed by compensatory behaviors such as vomiting, excessive exercise, or fasting. These behaviors are certainly cause for concern and an indication to speak to someone right away.

Obsessions, Compulsions, and Intrusive Thoughts

Experiencing frequent obsessions and compulsions can be another indicator of mental concern. This can look like unwanted, intrusive thoughts or images and can cause overwhelming distress for the receiver of those thoughts. Disruptive, repetitive behaviors are often performed in response to these obsessions.

While most people can appreciate a clean house or equal symmetry, cleaning or “fixing” things so much that it interferes with your daily life is not typical behavior. If repetitive thoughts or actions are keeping you from family, friends, work, obligations, or things that you otherwise enjoy, it might be time to consider speaking with a mental health professional.

Distressing Memories, Often Causing an Exaggerated Response

Everyone has bad days, and memories of bad times, but there’s a difference between remembering a bad day you had and reliving a traumatic event over and over again. If you find yourself experiencing distressing memories, including nightmares or flashbacks of a traumatic event, you may need to seek some professional guidance. While it’s common to want to avoid talking about traumatic things or anything that reminds you of the event, it’s important to remember that seeking help is the first step toward recovery.

Left untreated, distressing memories can cause a range of issues from irritability and anger outbursts, to difficulty concentrating and an exaggerated startle response. Talking to someone about what you’re going through can help you find new tools to move through the pain.

Strained Relationships and Impulsive Behavior

Not everyone is going to get along, and navigating relationship challenges is a natural part of life. However, if you find yourself having frequent difficulty in relationships, it may be due to a mental health diagnosis that has yet to be uncovered or treated. This can be connected to other issues, too, such as a fluctuating sense of self worth. The important thing to remember is that everyone is worthy of having stability in their lives and relationships. You may just need some extra support to help get you there.

Oftentimes, when stuck in patterns of relationship turmoil, people may turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms to sustain themselves. This can look like impulsive decision-making, interrupting others, reckless spending, substance abuse, frequent mood swings, or other risky behaviors. While things might seem impossible while you’re in the middle of it all, know that there is help available and things do get better with treatment.

Cognitive Dysfunction

Another way that mental illness can show up is through cognitive dysfunction. This can look like hallucinations, delusions, or disorganized thinking or speech. Additionally, cognitive dysfunction may manifest itself through impaired executive functioning, difficulty paying attention, forgetfulness, or making frequent careless mistakes.

If things suddenly become more mentally challenging, it’s important to seek help right away. Talking with a mental health professional can help guide you to an appropriate diagnosis and/or treatment regime.

Staggering Statistics – Silence the Stigma

With over 200 different types of identified mental illnesses, it would be difficult to outline each symptom in a blog post. However, the symptoms listed above tend to be some of the most commonly experienced. Of course, if you have other reasons to be concerned about your mental wellness, the most important thing to do is reach out for help.

Unfortunately, stigmas surrounding mental health may prevent many people from seeking the help they need. That’s why it’s important to talk about these things with our friends, families, and neighbors so that we can work to de-stigmatize these very common and prevalent human experiences.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one out of every eight people in the world suffers from a mental disability. Still, many people remain untreated or otherwise lack access to basic mental health care needs. Because mental illness is essentially an invisible disease, it’s easier to neglect. However, it’s important to remember that there is help available and you’re not alone in this struggle.

Seeking Professional Help

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders is a critical first step, but seeking professional help is equally as important. Mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and social workers, are trained to assess, diagnose, and treat various mental health conditions. If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health challenges, consider the following actions.

Talk to Your Primary Care Physician

Your primary care physician can be a valuable resource in coordinating mental health care. They can also rule out any underlying physical health conditions that may be contributing to mental health symptoms and refer you to mental health professionals for further evaluation.

Start Directly with Plus by APN

Here at Plus by APN, we specialize in all things mental health, including groundbreaking alternative therapies, as well as traditional psychotherapy and medication management. We can verify insurance coverage and design personalized treatment plans to meet individual needs. Simply call 424.644.6486 or fill out the online contact form today.

Reach Out to Supportive Individuals

Share your concerns with friends, family, or colleagues. Having a support system is essential for emotional well-being. Speaking with trusted loved ones can also help provide encouragement to seek professional help when needed.

Utilize Mental Health Hotlines

Many countries have mental health hotlines that offer immediate support and resources. In the United States, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Learning to Manage a Mental Health Disorder

Learning how to manage a mental health disorder is not as difficult as it initially may seem. Oftentimes, we simply need to get out of our own way and reach out to others to help guide us. With some time and diligence, it’s possible to discover therapies to assist with managing and sustaining a healthy and happy lifestyle.

Traditional Treatment Options for Mental Health

Traditional treatments for mental conditions often involve the use of medications and psychotherapy provided by a licensed mental health professional.

Medication options may include different types of antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, stimulants, and more. Which medication is recommended will be based on a variety of factors, including your:

  • Personal diagnosis
  • Physical make-up
  • Psychological needs

Psychotherapy, a body of clinical techniques used to treat various mental health conditions through personalized therapy sessions, has been found to benefit about 75% of people who utilize it. Still, it’s often not enough to cure or curb the most debilitating symptoms of mental health disorders.

When traditional treatments alone aren’t providing significant relief from mental health challenges, it may be time to start exploring the alternatives.

Alternative Treatment Options for Mental Health

Fortunately, there are many different alternative treatments to try when traditional approaches aren’t properly addressing a person’s mental health concerns. These may include:

  • Ketamine-assisted therapy: professional administration of low-dose ketamine has demonstrated rapid and lasting improvements in mental health symptoms
  • Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: a non-invasive method using magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells and improve mood regulation
  • Neurofeedback: real-time monitoring of brain activity, offering a valuable tool to relieve depression and enhance emotional regulation
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy: breathing pure oxygen within a pressurized chamber to alleviate depression and enhance overall brain function
  • Stellate ganglion blocks: injection of a local anesthetic into the stellate ganglion (nerves located at the back of the neck) to improve sympathetic nervous system function and relieve various mental health symptoms

Of course, there are many other alternative treatments to explore such as yoga, breathing exercises, mindfulness, animal therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, and more. The important thing is to try new things until you find something that works well for you.

Moving Forward With Mental Health – Prioritizing Wellness

Understanding the signs and symptoms of mental health issues is a crucial step in promoting overall well-being. Mental health conditions are common, and seeking professional help is a sign of strength, not weakness. While we have explored the symptoms of various mental health issues, it’s essential to remember that everyone’s experience is unique.

Remember, you are not alone, and help is available. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, reach out to a mental health professional today at Plus By APN. With proper diagnosis and treatment, many individuals can lead fulfilling lives and manage their mental health diagnoses effectively. To take the next step, call 424.644.6486 or fill out our online contact form today.

References

  • Feng, Juan-Juan, and You-Hui Li. “Effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on depression and anxiety in the patients with incomplete spinal cord injury (a STROBE-compliant article).” Medicine vol. 96,29 (2017): e7334. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000007334
  • Kerzner, Jaimie, et al. “Stellate Ganglion Block for Psychiatric Disorders: A Systematic Review of the Clinical Research Landscape.” Chronic Stress (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), U.S. National Library of Medicine, 8 Dec. 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8664306/.
  • Lee, Young Ji et al. “Neurofeedback Treatment on Depressive Symptoms and Functional Recovery in Treatment-Resistant Patients with Major Depressive Disorder: an Open-Label Pilot Study.” Journal of Korean medical science vol. 34,42 e287. 4 Nov. 2019, doi:10.3346/jkms.2019.34.e287
  • Newport, D Jeffrey et al. “Ketamine and Other NMDA Antagonists: Early Clinical Trials and Possible Mechanisms in Depression.” The American journal of psychiatry vol. 172,10 (2015): 950-66. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2015.15040465
  • “Mental Disorders.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-disorders. Accessed 1 Jan. 2024.
  • “Mental Illness and the Family: Recognizing Warning Signs and How to Cope.” Mental Health America, www.mhanational.org/recognizing-warning-signs#:~:text=There%20are%20more%20than%20200,dementia%2C%20schizophrenia%20and%20anxiety%20disorders. Accessed 1 Jan. 2024.
  • “What Is Psychotherapy?” Psychiatry.Org – What Is Psychotherapy?, www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/psychotherapy#:~:text=Does%20Psychotherapy%20Work%3F,show%20some%20benefit%20from%20it. Accessed 1 Jan. 2024.