Depression, anxiety, and other mental health illnesses can often creep up on us when we least expect it and it is important to be aware of the warning signs.
We may not be experts on mental health but these articles from Forbes and Prevention.com got us thinking about what depression really looks like so that we can empower you with info and help you to get support.
We all know somebody who has this kind of mindset: it’s not done until it’s done right. And most of the time this is just a personality thing. But, when excessive, perfectionism can be a sign that someone you know is struggling with their mental health.
Perfectionism is related to depression when it comes from the mindset that people won’t love or accept us unless we’re perfect. So it all comes down to self-love and self-acceptance. Screw-ups are just a part of being a human being. But we need to make the conscious decision to allow people in our lives (and ourselves!) to make mistakes. So that we all know we don’t have to be perfect… and that there’s no such thing as a perfect person.
The typical image of depression and mental illness that’s painted for us is someone who’s alone, sad, and not very social. While these can still be symptoms, anger and irritability are known to be more severe symptoms of depression.
People are more likely to lash out when they’re feeling helpless, hopeless, or not in control. This symptom takes more patience to realize. It’s easy to give a “talk to the hand,” an eye-roll or to just avoid people we know who seem to get angry and irritated over the smallest things. But sometimes it takes looking a little deeper into why they’re feeling those ways in order to actually address the situation.
People with depression can be biased towards negative situations. It’s natural to notice negative events in our lives because we like to to try to change them. But when we choose to only notice the negative aspects of people or situations in our lives, it can turn into a cycle of sabotage… if we only see the negative, we become negative and unhappy.
Lack of Concentration
We all know a “dreamer” – or maybe it’s us! Someone who’s always thinking about the future or just daydreaming. But just like anything else, when excessive, “daydreaming” or a lack of focus can be linked to mental health challenges because they stop us from being present to the moment. This can often affect a person’s ability to function in their relationships, at work, at school, etc.
When people around us aren’t able to concentrate it’s easy to just assume that they’re a forgetful person or that they’re struggling with other illnesses, like ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). But we need to put depression on the map. In many cases, concentration isn’t just linked to forgetfulness. But often times depression prohibits concentration because people are thinking about things over and over again in their minds (failures, regrets, worries, etc.)
Increased Alcohol Consumption
Now, we’re not referring to alcoholism in this one – although that can be related to mental health. But, a person doesn’t need to be an alcoholic to maybe have a problem with alcohol abuse. The main thing with alcohol is that is has the ability to heighten negative emotions once you get going. Have you ever had a friend who – by the third drink starts opening up about their worries about the future?
We’re not knocking the casual, occasional drink with dinner. But, if you notice someone in your life consistently consuming more and more alcohol throughout the week, it could be a sign that something else is going on. Whether depression or not.
*Find out more about alcohol and it’s link to breast cancer here.
Studies have shown that anywhere from 30 to 50% of people with depression report struggling with chronic pain too. This could be because people who are in more negative states tend to be more in tune with their bodies – noticing pain more often. But it could also be the result of a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you expect to be in pain (physically or emotionally) you will be.
Excessive Social Media Use
It’s difficult not to be glued to our cellphones in this super digital age. For work, school or other reasons it’s often unavoidable. But, using social media (consciously or subconsciously) to escape the “real world” in hopes for a short-term boost or coping mechanism could be a sign of a problem.
Lack of Self-Care
Sure, we all have our go-to sweatpants or comfy outfit that we wear on Saturdays or the days where we just don’t feel like getting dolled up. And let’s be clear: that’s TOTALLY okay! A lack of personal hygiene is a symptom of depression when it’s tied to self-neglect or a person’s inability to function on a day-to-day basis (like brushing their teeth, combing their hair, wearing unwashed clothes, etc.). People who are struggling with their mental health and/or depression often feel overwhelmed – therefore, it becomes easier and easier to let the “little” things slip.
Finally, if you or someone you love are in crisis click HERE to find a distress centre near you or reach out to Support@Rethinkbreastcancer.com
For more information about mental health and Breast Cancer, check out Rethink’s “The Psychosocial” section on our blog!