Mental health is just as important as physical health, but unfortunately, it can be a bit harder to diagnose, especially since it exists on a spectrum. But before it can become too obvious to miss, anxiety, and depression, in particular, can be avoided if only you pay attention to a few red flags early on.
Most tests online could misdiagnose you since they’re looking for some black and white answers that might not fit you completely, especially if you’re in the early stages or if your depression is not as severe.
Regardless of how serious it is, even a subtle shift in your routine and overall mood can be debilitating and chances are, it will get worse over time if you don’t seek help when the first signs show.
So what are these sighs you should look out for?
Before we discuss that more in depth, an advisable action you should take in order to correctly monitor the changes in your mental health state is to start keeping a journal.
By writing down about your patterns and changes in mood regularly, you will be able to look back and observe any concerning shifts every few weeks.
Furthermore, Ayana Jordan, MD, PhD, a psychiatrist at Yale University, advises to always reach out “to a loved one and asking how they feel you’re doing, because you value their opinion,” as much as you can.
A support system is essential when dealing with mental health problems, even if you think they’re not severe enough to mention them in casual conversation.
As for the red flags you need to pay attention to, the first we are going to discuss is the feeling that you can’t move on from negative thoughts stemming from different situations in your life.
It all just starts to feel like a broken record, and there is no way to get away from it since it’s happening in your mind, constantly.
For instance, you keep going back to that conversation you had with someone, wishing things had gone differently.
Of course, even more common is for those thoughts to revolve around self-criticism, so if you constantly tell yourself you are not good enough, a failure, or really unlucky, don’t hesitate to work on it and start changing these thought patterns.
After all, these thoughts often cause a lot of anxiety over trying out new things and accepting new opportunities and will, therefore, lead to you missing out on something potentially great just because you are scared of failing at it.
In this case, it is worth getting in contact with a professional in order to properly explore the causes and learn how to let go of negative interactions in the past or self-doubt in order to move on.
Daksha Arora, PhD, a therapist at Serene Therapy Center in Maryland, says that “One-time or sporadic thoughts don’t indicate a need for therapy. But thoughts that are persistent or frequent, create stress, or interfere with your functioning indicate a need for therapy.”
Another similar red flag you need to take seriously is always being worried about the future while stuck in the past when you need to focus on your present.
This is a sign that you are not happy with your current day to day routine, especially if you find yourself reminiscing or doubting that the future will be any better.
While it is normal to think this way from time to time, if it becomes a pattern, it could make living a balanced, happy life a real challenge.
A good way to deal with this is to try and unpack what is missing from your life now compared to the past and set clear goals, even small ones so that when you do reach them, you can feel more content with where you are at this point and the direction you are going.
Another sign of early anxiety and depression is if you feel guilty about a lot of things that are out of your control.
For instance, you might feel really bad for thinking the pandemic has brought you some benefits when it’s ruined so many other people’s lives.
Dr. Jordan suggests this is reason enough to go to a therapist and get it all off your chest.
You can also try to do this by opening up about it to a loved one or writing it down in your journal.
No matter what method works for you, you should reach a point where you realize it is not something you should feel bad or wrong for and that you are not alone in this.
One of the most common signs is questioning your self worth.
Feeling like you are not good enough is unfortunately very common but also one of the most debilitating symptoms of depression which is why you should not ignore it.
Most people out there do not have the tools necessary to change these thought patterns, but talking about it with someone can truly help you learn why you’re so hard on yourself.
Striving for perfection constantly and getting hung up on any little thing that goes wrong in your life can make life a living hell.
Positive self talk can also help a lot with getting rid of this thought pattern in the long run.
The end result is you finally accepting that no one is perfect and that you should value progress over perfection.
Just tell yourself this every day, and eventually, you will end up rewiring your brain to believe and live by it.