Mental health disorders are on the increase, with women and young people particularly susceptible to anxiety and depression. A seven-yearly survey by statistics body NHS Digital shows that one adult in six in England has a common mental disorder (CMD), with this figure rising to one in five amongst women.
World Mental Health Day on October 10 is a chance for organisations across the globe to discuss the issues and work towards good mental health for all. It’s also an opportunity for us to assess our own well being. Most of us can cope well with small levels of stress, but here are some common signs that might show you’re experiencing more than the everyday strains of life:
1. Feeling down, teary or emotional a lot of the time or, similarly, feeling numb or emotionless.
2. Having difficulty sleeping. Anxiety can make it hard to fall asleep in the first place, or you might find yourself waking up in the early hours and not being able to get back to sleep. It can become a vicious circle as the worry about being too tired to function the next day can make it even more difficult to drop off.
3. Sleeping too much. Depression can cause you to oversleep in the morning or need to sleep during the day. Mental health support organisation Mind has some tips to help get a good night’s rest.
4. Needing to eat more than usual and gaining weight, or having no appetite and losing weight.
5. Physical symptoms such as dizziness, a dry mouth, feeling sick, shortness of breath, pins and needles and headaches.
6. Panic attacks, which include a sudden and intense fear, as well as symptoms such as trembling or shaking, palpitations and sweating.
7. Catastrophizing and avoiding social or work situations ‘just in case’ something negative happens.
It’s natural to feel the onset of the ‘winter blues’ as autumn days start to shorten, but if you’re experiencing one or more of the signs above, it could be time to make an appointment with your GP to talk things through. Mind has support groups all around the UK while the NHS has a useful guide to generalised anxiety disorder and the types of treatment available.
Having a mental health issue can affect many aspects of your life, so it’s important to get the right support. Unfortunately, it can be listed as an exclusion in some insurance policies, but specialist providers can help you find the right plan when it comes to most products, including car, travel and health insurance. In fact, according to our income protection panel member Aegon, mental health was the reason behind 27% of claims received in 2016, with the majority being paid out.
Anxiety or depression can be overwhelming and it can be hard to see the wider picture. Focusing on simple things can really help, so read our guide to the small steps that can boost your mental health and try to maintain a healthy work life balance, giving yourself time to unwind each day.