Did you know that almost 1 in 5 people in Ireland suffered a mental health difficulty (i.e. anxiety, depression, and alcohol/drug use, etc.) in 2016? 

That figure is staggering. And quite outdated. Six years have passed since these statistics were produced, in the meantime we have seen the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, an all-out war in Europe, and monstrously difficult living conditions… I would guess the figure is even higher now.

Mental health is about how we think (cognition), feel (perception), and behave (behaviour)

Depression and stress and anxiety are the most common problems. 54% of us who struggle with mental health issues suffer from depression, while 47% from stress and anxiety. 

They are often a reaction to a difficult life event or trauma, but can also be caused by prolonged, chronic stress. Causes of chronic stress could include financial concerns, a dysfunctional marriage or family, or a deeply dissatisfying job.

What about you? Are any areas of your life being affected by mental health issues?

  • Your day-to-day – daily activities, like cooking, cleaning, or getting the kids ready for school
  • Your relationships
  • Your physical health
  • Your work performance or enjoyment
  • Your education
  • Your driving

Mental health is as important as physical health!

Most of us now know that mental health is as important as physical health, but the problem is often we don’t realise there is an issue at all. 

A bleeding cut on your finger or a broken leg are plain to see, but mental health issues are harder to spot, both in ourselves and in others, so it’s crucial we are aware of early signs and symptoms so to start supportive conversations with those who need it.

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

   

Symptoms of Depression

Symptoms of Anxiety

Feelings of sadness, emptiness or hopelessness

Persistent worrying or anxiety that is out of proportion to the impact of the events

Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters

Overthinking plans and solutions to all possible worst-case outcomes

Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports

Perceiving situations and events as threatening, even when they aren’t

Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much

Inability to set aside or let go of a worry. Inability to relax, feeling restless, and feeling keyed up or on edge

Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame

Difficulty handling uncertainty or indecisiveness and fear of making the wrong decision

Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain

Difficulty concentrating, or the feeling that your mind “goes blank”

Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort

Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide

 

The most commonly mentioned ways to help improve mental wellbeing are:

  • Exercise
  • Talking to a family member/friend
  • Eating healthy foods
  • Speaking with a therapist or counsellor
  • Practising yoga/mindfulness

 

 

If you take just one thing from this post, let it be an openness to slowing down and listening to your body more. Feel it, really inhabit it, just for a few minutes each day, and assess whether or not it’s trying to tell you something you don’t already know. Scan through the list of symptoms of depression and anxiety above and check in with yourself – do any of the symptoms sound like something you may be experiencing?


Help is always there for you, you may just need a helping hand in getting started!

With love

Gosia Wojciulewicz

 

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