Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are experiencing mental health problems for the first time, or have existing mental health issues being exacerbated by the current landscape. Because of this, it is important to be aware of different signs and symptoms of mental health problems that we can recognize in ourselves and others. Even if we think we are doing okay, now is a crucial time to check-in with ourselves and identify any “warning signs” that our mental health could be worsening. Doing so will ensure we take a proactive approach to maintaining our mental health before more serious challenges arise.
Signs & Symptoms of Mental Health Problems:
1. Sleep changes, either sleeping too much or too little. People may also feel low energy levels or exhausted throughout the day, despite getting a full night’s sleep
2. Changes in eating habits, either overeating, undereating, or eating less healthy. Individuals may experience nausea, or not be interested in eating even if they are hungry.
3. Confused thinking or reduced ability to concentrate. This could include inability to make decisions, short-term memory loss, and feeling “foggy.”
4. Extreme mood changes. This may look like rapid fluctuations between highs and lows, suddenly feeling overwhelmed, or having overly strong emotional reactions to less significant events (i.e. crying over spilt milk).
5. Rumination and intrusive thoughts. These are thought loops that we become stuck in, typically surrounding a negative experience and/ or feeling, and we find ourselves unable to stop continuously thinking about them.
6. Increased substance use, including alcohol or drugs.
7. Physical signs, such as shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, sweating, or feeling dizzy.
Signs and symptoms of mental health problems can impact emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Overall, when noticing a significant change in any of these areas, whether it is yourself of someone else, it is important to prioritize your mental wellness before the issues worsen. This could involve talking to a loved one, prioritizing self-care, or seeking professional assistance.