The mind/body connection is very real. A person’s thoughts, feelings, stresses, and problems can have an enormous impact on their physical health. That’s why mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, bipolar, or psychotic disorders display not just behavioral changes but also a wide variety of physiological changes. For the loved ones of the afflicted, the sudden manifestation of a collection of these symptoms can act as red flags that something more serious is afoot.
Check out these four physical signs of possible mental health problems.
Sleep No More, Or Always
Sudden or increasing changes in sleep patterns is a common sign of many different mental health disorders. Sleeping too much, combined with lethargy or general fatigue, is a typical sign of depression. On the flip side, insomnia, frequent interruptions in sleep, restlessness, needing less sleep than usual, or vivid dreams can indicate anxiety issues as well as rising psychosis.
Hit Or Miss Hygiene
A change in appearance may be the most obvious physical sign of mental distress. A young girl who suddenly takes to wearing knee-high socks and long-sleeve shirts in warm weather may be hiding cutting scars or even needle marks. Frequent washing of hands or excessive cleaning may be an indicator of OCD, while less attention to personal hygiene is a hallmark of many psychotic disorders.
Heart Attack Or Panic Attack?
The physiological manifestations of stressful disorders can be so alarming that they result in emergency room visits. Suffers may hyperventilate and experience chest pain, a racing heart, and light-headedness. Anxiety is known to bring on stomach aches, nausea, and even vomiting, or, alternatively, headaches, back pain, neck pain, and other unexplained aches. A loss of interest in sex, one of life’s joys, can be an indication of growing depression.
Any change in diet is worthy of notice. Both a loss of interest in food or intentional undereating, as well as overeating and obsession with food, can be red flags not just for eating disorders but also for a collection of other mental illnesses. Increased alcohol and/or drug consumption is a dangerously common way that a struggling individual tries to cope with an undiagnosed syndrome.
Anyone under a great deal of stress may manifest a number of these physical symptoms in isolation, but if you notice a combination, or a relatively sudden or worsening change in the physical health of a loved one, contact a mental health professional. Early intervention, testing, and an accurate diagnosis can do wonders to bring a sufferer both comfort and relief.