Check Yourself: Good vs Bad Mental Health
Like physical health, everyone has mental health, and as with physical health, mental health too can be good and bad, sometimes all in one week!
Poor mental health can manifest physically, as well as affect our emotions, work-life balance, family dynamics, productivity and more. There are many ways you may be able to spot signs and symptoms of poor mental health. In this article, we’re going to focus on the physical and behavioural signs that indicate someone is struggling with maintaining good mental health.
Without a broken bone or an open wound to show, a negative mental health condition can be difficult to spot because the symptoms aren’t always visible or obvious to the outside world, but that’s not to say that mental health conditions are rare. Roughly one in four adults suffer from a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year.
Here’s what you need to know:
There is such a thing as good mental health - where a person is able to process and regulate their feelings and emotions, is able to deal with adversity and setbacks, and generally has a positive disposition towards life. People with good mental health aren’t always happy all the time. They still have occasional negative emotions - they get sad and upset, disappointed and stressed, but they’re psychologically able to “bounce back”, oftentimes using setbacks to their advantage too. We call this high resilience and we can even measure somebody’s resilience to determine if any professional support needs to be sought to improve.
People with good mental health have regular mood fluctuations, regular sleeping patterns, and generally high energy levels. They also tend to be socially active and are able to demonstrate consistently good performance at work and at home. They’re able to relax and have confidence in both themselves and in others.
Just remember: it’s not about perfection or being able to tick every box. If you feel like all of the elements above don’t apply to you – it doesn’t necessarily mean you have poor mental health.
As mental health declines, there are increasing examples of “reacting”. This is when a person’s psychological and emotional stability is compromised, usually in times of great stress, where they don’t naturally establish a sense of equilibrium, but instead appear “riled up” or “explosive” in their responses to external events. This too is normal if it's temporary, however, left unchecked, any additional pressure could result in the person spiralling to worse mental health.
Someone who fits into the ‘reacting’ category may be irritable or impatient, nervous, or sad. They may worry more and experience forgetfulness or mindlessness. They may have trouble sleeping and find it difficult to relax, and they may experience intrusive thoughts. They might have low self-confidence, decreased social activity, and they may experience procrastination on a regular basis.
To assess your own work productivity levels, check out Naluri’s Productivity Assessment
As mental health deteriorates further, a person may experience consistent feelings of anger, anxiety, hopelessness, worthlessness, and withdrawal. They may also experience insomnia, be fatigued, isolate themselves socially and demonstrate decreased performance in their home and work life. People with compromised mental health at this stage tend to have more physical ailments and they also may have the inability to find pleasure in things they would usually enjoy, which is a common symptom of many mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and burnout.
What you have read thus far are symptoms of increasingly deteriorating mental health that warrant seeking support from a mental health or medical professional, but they’re not necessarily part of a clinical diagnosis until there has been a series of formal assessments by a mental health professional. For example, only self-assessments such as Naluri’s own Mental Health Assessment, are not, on their own, diagnostic tools. They accurately identify risk factors for mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and stress and are often the best way to kick off a constructive conversation about mental health support options with a professional.
When a person is diagnosed formally in accordance with the DSM-5, often following a series of assessments by mental health professionals and is found to be experiencing severe symptoms like frequent panic or anxiety attacks, debilitating depression and chronic overwhelm, they may be categorised as “mentally ill”. People with a diagnosed mental illness might have significant disturbances in their thinking, and may completely isolate themselves socially. They may experience a severe and persistent functional impairment, or maybe some physical illness. They may be unable to perform simple tasks, and may experience suicidal thoughts, or perhaps even act on these thoughts. People with mental illness often benefit from structured interventions from mental health professionals, and with close alignment with prescribed therapies would be able to lead healthy lives.
If you or someone you know believe you have compromised mental health, the best course of action is to consult with a mental health professional for support options. Naluri offers 24-hour talk or WhatsApp-based support for free, as well as in-app consultations with registered mental health professionals.
Physical and behavioural manifestations of poor mental health
Compromised mental health can also manifest in physical ailments. While none of these symptoms alone indicates poor mental health, they should be monitored.
Many people experience physical symptoms and ailments that they can’t connect to anything else or find a root cause for, and sometimes eventually find out these are linked to stress or poor mental health. These physical symptoms might show themselves in the form of frequent headaches or migraines, suffering from minor illnesses frequently like coughs and colds, a lack of energy or a constant feeling of tiredness, skin conditions, extreme body temperatures, a sudden weight gain or weight loss, feeling run down, digestive problems, muscle tension or shortness of breath. It can also result in someone taking less care of their appearance.
People might also present changes in their behaviour, like irritability or aggression, or being withdrawn and socially isolated. They might come into conflict with others more frequently, or engage in addictive or excessive behaviours like consuming more alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs. They might appear to be more isolated from others. It’s possible they’ll demonstrate an inability to concentrate, or more erratic or socially unacceptable behaviour. They may experience a loss of confidence or forgetfulness, and you might notice mood swings or increased emotional reactions like they become tearful more frequently. They might have a loss of humour, and they might come across as if they’re in denial, particularly if they are approached about their mental health.
The key thing to look out for is a change in behaviour or traits that don’t reflect someone’s typical behaviour, and then to offer support, guidance and understanding if someone is in fact affected.
Poor mental health is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, identifying struggles and help-seeking are some of the most introspective and brave things you can do for your own wellbeing. What is most important is to remember that you are not alone in your struggles and that help, in various forms, is available.
- Written by:
- Naluri Team
- 21 February 2022