Mental illness needs to be taken more seriously.
When you get a cold, you know because you sneeze and feel poorly; when you break a leg, you can feel the pain and the bone protruding. More importantly, people can also see the symptoms – which makes it easier to get sympathy. Yet mental illness is hard to define because it is intangible.
More worryingly, although a person may feel and even see the symptoms of mental illness, they may ignore them or write them off as symptoms of working too much or not eating healthily enough…
As always, however, knowing what to look out for is the first step to acceptance.
Concentration: People suffering from depression find it much harder to concentrate on work or other tasks. They find it hard to remember details, even for important events or things, and are petrified of making decisions.
Sleep: Depression can do one of two things: either turn you into an insomniac or push you towards hibernation mode. Most people don’t find it difficult to sleep once they hit the sack, and they feel great and rested after a good night’s sleep. If you are continually unable to rest or even sleep, or you never feel rested, then seek help.
Eating: We all over-indulge from time to time but when we overeat on a daily basis without any reason for it (more exercise, for example) then it could be a sign of depression. It could also go the other way, of course, where worries literally take over your appetite and suppress it.
Irritability: We all get pissed off at things, but are you angry at everything all the time? Keep yourself in check by noticing when and why you get angry; particularly as not everyone will be as forgiving if they don’t know exactly why you’re angry.
Body: The mind manifests depression in many physical ways including aches and pains, indigestion, cramps and headaches. Your body does this to let you know that something is wrong; don’t ignore it.
Undoubtedly, not everyone who has a headache or is easily irritable suffers from depression, but each of those symptoms needs to be looked at in a context. If you’re unsure if you or your loved one may be suffering from depression, visit a doctor or a psychologist – your mental health, after all, matters.