These days lots of people are trying not to go crazy because of existential fear and a looming feeling of an uncertain future. 35% of Americans say their mental health has worsened over the past week recently.
The pandemic, an increase in lay-offs, social distancing and the inability to meet loved ones — all of these and other factors contribute to the worsening of people’s mental health.
Life is full of challenges. Sometimes we all feel like it’s too much and it’s impossible to move on.
Whether it’s stress, anxiety, or overwhelming fear, it’s essential to know when your body and mind can cope with certain emotions on their own, and when you should seek mental health help.
Here are the signs that your mental health may have recently deteriorated.
Sign #1 You Regularly Feel Extremely Anxious or Scared
Anxiety can be a normal response to certain situations. The physical symptoms of anxiety are caused by stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol which our brains release as a response to a threat or danger.
Once the threat is over, the body returns to its normal condition.
For people with anxiety disorders, the feeling of fear or apprehension can become ongoing and last for quite a long time even after the danger has already gone.
If those emotions interrupt your daily life, it makes sense to consult a licensed mental health specialist.
Sign #2 You Feel Guilty or Worthless
The origin of one’s guilty feelings could be anything, but the reason for guilt is typically much more minor than an extreme emotional reaction itself.
Regardless of where the guilt comes from, such a destructive condition can have a serious effect on mental health.
This is why it’s incredibly important for people experiencing guilt issues to seek professional mental health help.
Sign #3 You Wake Up Depressed for No Apparent Reason
Some people feel depressed and don’t even know why. They may feel like there’s no particular reason to be depressed.
Some of them may even feel guilty for being depressed, while others consider their lives as “normal”, “easy”, or “successful”.
The pressure to make excuses for their feelings can make depression worse and prevent people from getting the necessary treatment.
Sign #4 You Find Yourself Easily Irritated
Most people with anxiety disorders admit having excessive irritability.
Research in over 6,000 adults showed that more than 90% of people diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder feel highly irritable when their anxiety got worse.
Since anxiety is associated with excessive worrying, it is quite a common symptom.
Sign #5 You Experience Trouble Falling or Staying Asleep
Sleep disturbances are strongly linked to anxiety disorders and depression. Having trouble falling asleep, waking up in the middle of the night, or experiencing nightmares are the most commonly reported problems.
Sign #6 You Use Substances, Such As Alcohol or Drugs, to Cope
Alcohol and drugs are often used to alleviate the symptoms of mental health issues, to cope with difficult emotions, or to simply improve mood.
Unfortunately, abusing substances causes side effects and in the long run and often worsens the symptoms of mental health conditions.
Sign #7 You Have Difficulty Concentrating
A study in 175 adults with generalized anxiety disorder found that almost 90% reported having difficulty concentrating.
The more severe their anxiety was, the more difficult it was for them to stay focused.
Natural Ways to Help Your Body and Mind
If you noticed at least one of the mentioned signs in your recent behavior, you may be experiencing some mental health issues.
In some cases, people can alleviate symptoms of those emotional disorders with self-help techniques and particular healthy habits. Here are the tips that may be helpful in terms of improving your mental health.
Following a healthier diet:
Make your diet rich in vegetables, fruits, high-quality meats, fatty fish, nuts and whole grains. These products can lower the risk of developing anxiety disorders.
Consuming probiotics and fermented foods:
Eating fermented food, such as yogurt or kimchi, or taking a daily probiotic supplement have been associated with improved mental health.
2017 research found that taking a daily probiotic supplement seemed to help with symptoms of both depression and anxiety.
Excessive consumption of caffeine may worsen feelings of anxiety in some people, especially those with mental health disorders.
Abstaining from alcohol:
The symptoms of mental health issues can become more severe due to alcohol abuse. That’s why it’s better to abstain from alcoholic beverages.
Introducing more physical activities:
The benefits of regular exercise goes beyond just a healthy body and contribute significantly to the mental health aspect as well. Particularly, exercise has been linked to a lower risk of developing an anxiety disorder.
Practicing relaxation techniques:
Meditation, deep breathing, yoga, mindfulness practices — all of those have shown significant results in reducing symptoms in people with anxiety disorders.
Those tools can also help you manage feelings of uncertainty by staying focused on the present.
Get an emotional support animal:
A beloved pet can significantly contribute to your mental health. 74% of respondents reported mental health improvements by themselves or family members from pet ownership.
To be prescribed an emotional support animal, you need to have a therapy session with a licensed mental health professional first.
Create a daily routine:
Having some rituals, repetitive daily activities, and a particular schedule can help you cope with uncertainty and change by providing comfort and reducing stress.
Finding the coping mechanism that fits you individually takes time and patience. However, it is worth the effort, as it can enormously affect your emotional condition.
If your mental health hasn’t improved after changing your lifestyle and introducing healthy habits, you need to seek professional help as soon as possible.
The earlier a mental health specialist determines the diagnosis and prescribes the necessary treatment, the better the quality of your life will be.
Where to Seek Mental Health Help
Depending on your preferences and needs, there are various ways of having support from mental health specialists. Here are some of them.
Contact Immediate Help in Critical Situations
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It connects people who need help to the nearest crisis centers that provide crisis counseling
Crisis Text Line is also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout the United States. It serves anyone, in any type of crisis, connecting them with a crisis counselor who can provide support and information.
Veterans Crisis Line is a free, confidential resource that connects veterans with a trained responder. The service is available to all veterans, even if they are not registered with the VA or enrolled in VA healthcare.
Disaster Distress Helpline provides immediate counseling for people who are experiencing emotional stress related to any natural or human-caused disaster.
Find a Mental Health Specialist to Seek Help
To find a mental health specialist with whom you’ll be comfortable talking, it can be helpful to prepare a list of questions to see if the doctor is a good fit for you.
Examples of questions you might want to ask a potential provider include:
- What experience do you have?
- How do you usually treat patients with similar emotional conditions?
- How long will the treatment last?
- When can I expect to see the first improvements?
- Do you accept my insurance?
- What are your fees?
Try Therapy Apps
The coronavirus outburst has forced millions of us to self-isolate. This fact knocks many people off the wagon, as these days we cannot live the same way we lived just a couple of months ago.
Since going to therapy to see your doctor might not be possible for some time, mental health apps — ranging from meditation to teletherapy platforms have become extremely popular. Talkspace, What’s up? Misü, Calm and their alternatives can be a great fit.