7 Signs Your Mental Health Is Getting Worse

When your mental health suffers, it’s important to seek help from a loved one, therapist, or other trusted individual as soon as possible. The most common signs of poor mental health include mood swings, appetite or energy changes, loss of interest, isolation, substance abuse, and self-harm.

Whether or not you have a diagnosed mental illness, it’s important to keep an eye on your mental health. Just like your physical health, your mental health plays an essential role in your overall sense of well-being. 

If you think your mental health might be getting worse, look for these seven warning signs. 

1. Mood Swings

Everyone feels moody at times. However, if you start feeling bursts of sadness, anxiety, or irritability on a regular basis, you may want to contact a mental health professional. 

These mood changes can signal a variety of mental health concerns, including depression, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Even an extremely high mood could indicate an issue. If you suddenly feel far more happy, excited, or confident than usual, you might be experiencing mania. 

Mania is often a symptom of bipolar disorder, cyclothymic disorder (a mild form of bipolar disorder), or schizoaffective disorder (a condition that can cause symptoms of both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia).

2. Appetite Changes

When your mental health suffers, you might have little to no interest in food. This loss of appetite is a common symptom of depression. It may also signal an eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa. 

If left untreated, this symptom can lead to extreme weight loss and malnutrition. Common signs of malnutrition include fatigue, trouble concentrating, and frequent coldness.

For some people, however, poor mental health causes a sudden increase in appetite. Like loss of appetite, this symptom may be a sign of depression. It might also indicate binge eating disorder, a condition that makes you feel unable to stop eating. 

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3. Energy Changes

Many mental health problems cause drastic shifts in energy. People with depression, for instance, may have extremely low energy. As a result, some of them sleep all day. Others develop insomnia, meaning they can’t fall or stay asleep despite their severe fatigue. 

In either case, extreme drowsiness can prevent a depressed person from meeting responsibilities at work, school, or home.

In contrast, a sudden burst in energy could indicate mania. When manic, you might start talking and moving much faster than usual. You may also feel overwhelmed by new ideas and plans. Mania can even make you feel like you no longer need sleep. 

Unfortunately, going without rest only makes manic symptoms worse.  

4. Loss Of Interest

Do you feel less excited about activities you once loved? Even if you attempt those activities, do they bring you far less joy than they used to? 

This loss of interest often signals depression. At first, you may only lose interest in social activities, preferring to spend your time alone with a book or TV show. Over time, though, you might abandon those activities as well. 

Eventually, you may find that nothing brings you pleasure, including food and sex. This is called anhedonia. In many cases, it’s a sign of major depressive disorder (also called major depression). It can also occur with other mental health issues, including bipolar disorder and PTSD.

5. Isolation

When you feel sad, it’s normal to seek comfort from friends and family members. However, if your sadness turns into depression, you may self-isolate instead. This isolation can stem from multiple symptoms of depression, including fatigue, loss of interest, and low self-esteem.

People also isolate due to other mental health disorders. For instance, a person experiencing psychosis may withdraw from their loved ones because they feel paranoid that someone wants to hurt them. 

Psychosis is a temporary loss of connection with reality that may occur in mental health conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and schizoaffective disorder. 

Other people might stay home to avoid triggers related to conditions such as social anxiety disorder, OCD, and PTSD.

6. Substance Abuse

After a bad day, do you drink a lot of alcohol, use illicit drugs, or use prescription drugs in a manner not prescribed? 

All these forms of substance abuse indicate that you need mental health care. A therapist or other mental health professional can help you find healthier ways to cope with daily life, such as journaling, exercising, or meditating.

If you don’t stop misusing drugs, you face a high risk of substance use disorder (addiction). According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 37.9% of people with substance use disorder also have other mental health concerns. 

When left untreated, these co-occurring conditions often make each other worse. 

7. Self-Harm 

Cutting, burning, or otherwise hurting yourself on purpose is a clear sign of poor mental health. 

People engage in these behaviors for many different reasons, including hopelessness, loneliness, and a need for a sense of relief. No matter why you do it, self-harm can lead to serious injury or death if left untreated. It may also lead to suicidal thoughts or attempts.

If you are experiencing urges to hurt or kill yourself, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988. This helpline offers free, 24/7 support fo people in crisis. You should also seek long-term mental health treatment to prevent future self-harm urges. 

To learn more about mental health treatment options, please reach out to Ohio Recovery Center. Our board-certified healthcare providers offer psychotherapy, medication management, and other evidence-based services to help you or your loved one thrive.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/comorbidity/comorbidity-substance-use-other-mental-disorders-infographic
  3. National Institute of Mental Health https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness
  4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration https://www.samhsa.gov/mental-health/self-harm

Written by Ohio Recovery Center Editorial Team

Published on: October 12, 2023

© 2024 Ohio Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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