7 Red Flags That May Indicate A Larger Mental Health Issue
When we're caught up in our busy lives, it can be easy for mental health issues to creep up on us without our noticing. And since we're not always taught to take care of our mental health the way we take care of our physical health, we may be tempted to ignore the signs when we do see them. But even small mental health issues deserve our attention, because they can take a huge toll on our physical and mental health in the long run.
Having a mental health issue is nothing to be ashamed of. The majority of people will fit the diagnosis for some mental illness at some point in their lives, according to a study in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology. Sometimes, people don't address mental health issues because they're scared of what these issues might say about them. But all they say is that you're human.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker Carolyn Karoll tells Bustle that if you think you might be struggling with your mental health, you should ask yourself the following questions: "Does the problem negatively affect the way you feel about yourself?", "Does it negatively impact others or how others see you?", and "Does it interfere with your ability to participate in activities of daily living (work, sleep, etc.)?" If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, the problem requires addressing.
Here are some seemingly minor issues that might indicate a larger mental health problem.
1. Obsession With Nutrition Or Fitness
Since we live in a culture where this is often praised, many people overlook this as a potential symptom of disordered eating, says Karoll. It's smart to put some thought into what you order at a restaurant, for example, but you shouldn't be thinking about that order hours in advance of going out. Staying active is healthy, but posting about every workout on Instagram probably isn't.
2. Inability To Handle Boredom
Low tolerance for boredom is an often overlooked sign of ADD and ADHD, Licensed Counselor Monte Drenner tells Bustle. People with these conditions might get extremely anxious if they're not kept occupied, sometimes going to great lengths, like using alcohol or drugs, to try to entertain themselves.
3. Low Motivation
It might feel like you're just "in a funk" if you don't want to go to work or go out, but this could actually be an early sign of depression. Drenner advises forcing yourself to get out and stay busy if you experience this, since it can become a self-perpetuating cycle.
4. Mood Swings
If you're experiencing unpredictable moods or lashing out at people for no reason, this could be a sign of depression or bipolar disorder, says Hershenson.
5. Sleep Problems
Trouble sleeping, feeling awake despite getting enough sleep, or sleeping all the time could also indicate bipolar disorder or depression, says Karoll.
6. Changes In Eating Habits
Overeating and under-eating can both be coping mechanisms when you're dealing with anxiety or depression, Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW tells Bustle. If you find yourself eating more than usual or not eating when you're especially sad or stressed out, there may be underlying emotions you're masking.
7. Inability To Have Fun
If you're not enjoying things you used to, this could be a sign of depression, says Hershenson. It could also be a sign of burnout.
If you notice any of these signs, it might be worth talking to your doctor or a therapist to make sure you nip the problem in the bud.