The human mind is incredibly complex – and life gets challenging. Sometimes our minds and emotions get thrown off balance, leaving us feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally drained.
If you’ve gone through a hard time or faced trauma, your mental health could suffer. Understanding mental illness, being aware of common symptoms, and having a plan for managing on tough days will help you grow and move forward.
What is Mental Illness?
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors”
Many of us have bad days or weeks, or experience difficult emotions after an event like a death in the family or losing a job. So what makes it a mental illness? Experts agree that the majority of mental illnesses are signaled by stark physical and emotional changes. Where a bad day or poor mood will fade after a short time, a mental illness is characterized by long term symptoms you just can’t seem to shake.
What Symptoms Might My Mental Illness Have?
Symptoms vary according to your mental health diagnosis, but there are some common signs that your mind and emotions may be out of balance.
- Feeling sad or confused
- Difficulty focusing
- Prolonged depression
- Excessive guilt or fear
- Compulsive or addictive behavior
- Crying spells
- Mood swings
- Stopping or losing interest in your favorite activities
- Excessive fatigue
- Frequent Insomnia
- Delusions or hallucinations
- Frequent overwhelm
- Difficulty relating to others
- Substance abuse
- Excessive appetite or appetite loss
- Hostile or violent behavior
- Cutting or self-harm
- Suicidal thoughts or plans
Your symptoms could be physical or emotional. The key is to be aware of extreme changes or sudden “swings”. If you don’t feel like yourself or don’t understand your behavior, it may be time for a mental health checkup.
How Do I Cope With Mental Illness When Symptoms Are Difficult?
Living with mental illness isn’t easy, but there are plenty of options to help you treat your symptoms and overcome emotional and spiritual roadblocks. You may be prescribed medication or be recommended for talk therapy. Perhaps your pastor or another leader in your faith community may be able to provide additional counselling.
Often mental illness symptoms bring with them a loss of faith. In those times, remember that God is with you and has great plans for your life:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
You’re never on your own when it comes to your mental health; there is always hope. You can find it here. TheHopeline puts mental health resources (including a podcast archive) at your fingertips. If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, or addiction, you can request mentorship or prayer right away.
Greater stability, deeper faith, and stronger relationships are possible – starting now.