9 Mental Health Red Flags To Watch Out For

by Isadora Baum, CHC

It's tricky to really get in touch with your feelings. Life goes up and down, and these swings can really influence your mood and wellbeing, and if left untreated, they could lead to some serious mental health red flags down the road. Plus, these warning signs are often associated with different mood and mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorders, and bi-polar disorder, among others. If you think you're at risk of any of these conditions, it's extremely important to speak to a therapist to get some clarity and support.

As a certified health coach, I work with clients on feeling happy and mentally stable, where they know they have control over their lives and are doing well for themselves, in whatever stage they may be in, so I know how much the stress of life can affect some people's mental states. When there's a stressful event, especially a sudden, unexpected one, it can definitely influence mood and wellbeing, and unless there's a means to resolve the issues and find peace, those negative thoughts can pile up, leading to a chronic state of mental exhaustion. What's more, the longer the tension persists, the harder it'll be to overcome the issues and get back to feeling like normal. If you think you notice warning signs of a mental illness, or you're feeling incredibly overwhelmed as of late and are concerned as to where it'll lead to, seek help from a professional. Here are 9 mental health red flags you should be wary of.

1. Changes In Sleep

According to Kimberly Hershenson LMSW over email with Bustle, if you're having weird sleeping patterns or lack of energy upon waking, it could be a mental red flag that something's messing with your mind. "Struggling to get out of bed and sleeping all day or having difficulty sleeping at night are signs of a mental health issue," Hershenson explains.

2. Mood Swings

If you're hot and then cold, out of nowhere, and you're not PMSing, it could mean you're struggling mentally and need more stability. "Fluctuating between happy and sad or lashing out at others for no reason are signs of a mental health issue," says Hershenson.

3. No Longer Engaging In Hobbies

If you're not finding joy in things that used to make you happy, it could mean that you're feeling down and might need a reboot, says Hershenson. For instance, this includes giving up hobbies or no longer wanting to socialize with others. Withdrawing from normal life is definitely common when something mentally troublesome is present.

4. Crying Constantly

According to expert postpartum depression survivor and founder of the blog, The Medicated Mommy, Jen Schwartz, over email with Bustle, if you're crying a lot, and you're unsure as to the real root cause (or the cause seems invalid), it could be linked to high anxiety or depression. What's more, imagining ways to get sick or hurt could also be associated with mentally unstable thoughts, Schwartz adds.

5. Recurrent Worries That Aren't Relative To Your Life

Worried about your home burning down, without real reason to think so? "These can be the result of chronic stress, or a traumatic event, but the hallmark to look for is that they are basically irrational in nature," says Dr. Ed Carlton, licensed chiropractor and certified neurofeedback provider, over email with Bustle. "This can be an indication of underlying unresolved conflict that is reaching a crisis point, leading to the symptoms," Carlton explains.

6. Chronic Muscle Tightness

"The body is not designed to be on the ready for 'fight or flight' at all times, and stress that is unresolved or simply overwhelming can lead to a constant state of hyper-alertness that can create numerous health challenges," says Carlton. For instance, "TMJ issues associated with jaw clenching can lead to migraines, damaged gums, or broken teeth. And, high blood pressure, headaches, even fibromyalgia-like symptoms can result from being too 'tightly wound,'" Carlton cautions. If you're always really wound up, find ways to relax to protect yourself in the future.

7. Poor Digestion Issues

Sure, this can result from what you eat, your dietary needs and intolerances, or stress, but sometimes it can be associated with mental factors. "A common concern for women, improper digestion can both be worsened by mental issues, or can actually cause them," says Carlton. Here's why: "The term 'sick gut, sick mind' relates to the fact that improper metabolism can lead to symptoms of both anxiety and depression, despite the absence of any reason to feel that way," Carlton explains.

8. Guilt & Self-Loathing

Being especially hard on yourself? Routinely? It could be a mental health red flag, says psychiatrist Dr. Steven Levine, founder of Ketamine Treatment Centers, over email with Bustle. If you're noticing a pattern, speak with a psychiatrist for help in bringing back some self-love.

9. Talking To Yourself

"What's also quite telling is self-talk, or the way we speak to ourselves (maybe sometimes out loud, but usually in our heads)," says NYC mental health counselor Jessica Meiman over email with Bustle. What are the messages you're sending to yourself? The things we tell ourselves about ourselves have a lot of power over how we go about living our lives. Are you hyper critical of every little thing you do? Do you feel inadequate regardless of your efforts? "These forms of self-talk can be depleting and are indicative of the need to focus more of your attention on your mental well-being," says Meiman.

If you notice any of these symptoms, they could be mental health red flags. Upon recognition, see an expert for help in coming to peace with what's going on and finding relief.