We all have a bad day now and then. Life is a rollercoaster and each one of us has to deal with its ups and downs. But if you feel negative feelings far more often than positive ones, it can quickly get out of control. You feel alone, sad, unmotivated, and often worthless.
People who don’t understand these problems will often only make it worse. “Snap out of it.”, or “stop making such a big deal out of it” are but two examples of how ignorant people react to victims of mental illnesses.
These feelings are not your fault. And even if it may feel like the whole world stands against you, please know that there are many people right now who feel exactly the same.
You’re not different. You’re not the odd one out. And you’re not alone.
This article may trigger some people. If you feel triggered at any point, please stop reading immediately. Your wellbeing is important. If you want, you can reach out to me via direct message on Twitter.
Please don’t hesitate. I’m not a medical expert, but I can be a good friend and will take all the time we need. Sometimes having a good friend to talk to goes a long way. I won’t judge. I only want to help you.
People who mistake mental illnesses for simple mood swings or a lack of control don’t understand the impact our brain has on who we are and how we feel. They need to understand that someone suffering from it can’t just “shut it off”.
Here are 5 signs that can be caused by mental illnesses. If you notice any of these signs in yourself or someone you love, please reach out and get the help you deserve from mental health professionals.
Table of content (click to jump)
1. You feel sad or depressed for 2 weeks or more
Being sad for a few days is something that happens to all of us at one point or another. We might have lost someone we love, and grief takes over for some time. We feel depressed, lack the energy to do even basic tasks, and feel empty inside.
But if you feel this sadness or depression for more than two weeks in a row, or your sadness feels heavier than usual, this may be a sign of depression.
The National Institute of Mental Health describes sadness and depression that last for that long as a major depressive episode. It’s not normal to feel like that.
Depression is one of the worst feelings because you don’t feel like talking to anyone and can even fake some happiness just to please others. Common symptoms of an underlying depression are:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
- Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
- Decreased energy or fatigue
- Moving or talking more slowly
- Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
- Appetite and/or weight changes
- Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
More than half of all people who die by suicide were suffering from major depression.
Treating depression is not a problem. About 80-90% of people who are treated recover and feel better about themselves. The problem is recognizing someone with depression before it’s too late.
If you are feeling sad or depressed, please contact someone to talk to. You can talk to me on Twitter right now. If I’m not there right now, I’ll answer as soon as I can. Pinky promise.
2. You constantly feel anxious and just can’t stop worrying
Before an important test, a job interview, or a life-changing decision, it is normal to feel anxious about the situation. Fear is a natural instinct that wants to protect us from harm.
But if you feel tense all the time, can’t relax, and are easily distracted or irritated, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. The NIMH describes such anxiety for most days for at least 6 months as the symptom of a general anxiety disorder.
If you feel restless, tend to clench your fists or feel otherwise tense, can’t shake off the fear of something bad happening, and worry about each and everything, then you should seek someone to talk to and contact a medical help professional. I’m also there to talk if you’d like.
Especially people who were exposed to high-stress environments as children are at risk of unconsciously developing an anxiety disorder later in their lives.
3. You suddenly feel agitated and start panicking
Most people understand the feeling of adrenaline that floods the brain when you are in a life-and-death scenario. But a real panic attack is nothing like that.
For some people, these attacks are provoked by certain triggers, like an object they fear, or a situation that reminds them of past trauma. Others suffer from a panic attack without any trigger present.
If you suddenly feel like you’re losing control and something really bad is about to happen while your heart pounds inside your chest, this is a panic attack. The body reacts similarly to the adrenaline-induced fight or flight situation, but it overreacts drastically.
Sweaty hands, quick and short breathing, and a trembling body can be symptoms during such an attack.
While not being listed under the official symptoms, I remember one panic attack I had when I was 15. Time felt like it was on fast forward. I remember looking at a clock, which appeared to rotate at a ridiculous speed. I screamed for my mother who was talking to my dad in another room. Their talking sounded fast and intelligible. A few minutes later, it was gone.
Because of the negative effect of these attacks, people with chronic panic attacks can also develop severe anxiety. But psychotherapy can help you with disarming these attacks and keep them in check. You will learn to control your mind and feelings enough so the attacks will stop or at least be less horrible.
4. Your have extreme mood swings without knowing why
During the day, our mood can go up and down several times. On average, good moods come more often than bad ones.
But if you feel switching from overly depressed to strong enough to lift the whole world and back again, you may be suffering from bipolar disorder. This is a disorder that causes you to experience extreme mood swings. One moment you feel like the world would be better without you, and a few days later you feel like you could build a company that will conquer it.
Unfortunately, bipolar disorder will never fully go away. But if you start psychotherapy, you can learn to deal with it in a healthy manner and even use it to your advantage.
By knowing how to deal with a certain mood, you can reduce its negative impact and maximize your efficiency during a high without going overboard. You can learn when a manic or depressive episode will begin and plan your life around it.
Please contact a health professional to talk about your symptoms. I will leave all the relevant contacts at the end of this article. You can also contact me at any time via Twitter if you just want to talk to someone.
5. You have thought about hurting yourself or suicide
When our despair grows too strong, we may feel like ending it would be the easier way out. There are many reasons someone might consider self-harm or suicide.
- A loss of a loved one we just can’t cope with
- Being the victim of past or ongoing abuse or neglect
- A catastrophe that lies out of our control
- Severe trauma or PTSD
Suicide is often the last resort of those who feel completely lost and without any support or help. A study conducted by Louise Brådvik in 2018 concluded that of all people who committed suicide, more than 90% were suffering from a mental illness that went unnoticed or untreated.
Suicide is the severe and final symptom of someone who’s not getting the support they need for their underlying illness.
If you at any point thought about hurting yourself or suicide, please contact a medical health professional. Having these thoughts is not your fault. But you must not listen to them. You need someone who understands your problem and can help you solve it. Someone who listens.
You may feel like talking won’t solve anything, but I can promise you it will.
Please consider calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It’s completely free and they are there for you 24/7.
You can reach them at 1–800–273-TALK (8255)
Also, I’m always there if you want to talk. Please reach out to me via DM on Twitter.
If you feel lost and alone, depressed, anxious, or think about suicide
Please reach out to one of the following hotlines. They only exist to help you. These people volunteer to be there for you when no one else is.
They don’t judge, they don’t blame you and they don’t criticize you. All they want to do is helping you.
The Samaritans: 877 870–4673
Trevor Project Lifeline for LGBT youth: 866–488–7386
Child Help USA National Line for victims of child abuse: 1–800–422–4453
National Teen Dating Violence Hotline for questions and concerns about dating and relationships: 1–866–331–9474
Please know that you can also always call the national emergency hotlines like 911 if you are struggling. The operators will get you the help you need.
If you want to, I’m also there for you. You can contact me directly on Twitter. I won’t judge, I just want to listen and help you through this crisis. I’ll be your friend if no one else is. Whatever we talk about stays between us. I promise you that.
Please reach out.
If someone you know suffers from anxiety, depression, frequent mood swings, or suicidal thoughts
If you know someone who struggles, you have to be there for them. The most important thing is that you don’t judge, don’t shame, don’t blame. They don’t do this to get attention.
The biggest problem someone in that spot has is the lack of human connection. We are social animals and we need to share our pain to half the burden. If you have no one you can confide with, life gets much more painful. Being there for someone even just to talk goes a long way and can make a difference. So don’t look away or ignore any of these signs.
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
- Looking for a way to kill themselves, like searching online or buying a gun
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or isolating themselves
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Extreme mood swings
If you know someone who suffers, you can help in 5 easy steps:
- ASK — don’t beat around the bush. Ask them directly if they are thinking about killing themselves. If you ask honestly, you will get an honest answer.
- Keep them safe — Get rid of any items they could use to harm themselves
- Be there — this is the most important one. Be there. Listen. Help.
- Help them connect — We can only do so much. Get them to talk to a trained professional.
- Stay connected — Stay in touch with them. Be a true friend. Don’t let them suffer from isolation again.
You can make all the difference in this situation.
I hope sincerely that this article raises awareness and gets some people to open their eyes to what’s happening around them. Right now we got Covid-19, a presidential election that divided the US, and more bad things happening in the world.
People get anxious. They get depressed. We must not leave them alone.
If you yourself feel spoken to by this, I really want you to reach out to me. And if you know someone who needs help, please act immediately.
Every year, close to 800,000 people end their lives. That’s about 1 every 40 seconds. If we can just save one life, it’s worth all the effort we put into it.
Please do what you can. Be there for someone.