Raise your mental health self-awareness by checking-in with yourself. Below is a list created by Ohio’s leading suicide prevention experts to help you gauge your emotional wellness and look out for potential signs of anxiety and/or depression.
A – Ask Yourself How You’re Feeling
Anxiety, worry, and/or fear about the following:
Your own health and the health of those close to you
The health and welfare of those in other places and around the world, particularly for those in poorer areas or without medical care
Whether your employment, income, and benefits – including health insurance – will be affected
Your ability to get the things you need, from medications to groceries to personal care items
Whether you can provide adequate care for your children or other people in your care (such as an elderly parent or disabled family member)
Uncertainty about the future
Frustration over how long you will need to practice social distancing
Loneliness and boredom
Emotional extremes, such as anger, short-temperedness, or euphoria
Irritability and blaming others
Periods of panic
Depression, which may include feelings of hopelessness
Inability to enjoy activities
Feelings of guilt
Wanting to be alone
Some individuals may experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); these include:
Intrusive distressing memories
Flashbacks, i.e., reliving traumatic events
Changes in thoughts and mood
Being easily startled
Low energy levels
Sleeping too much or not enough
Changes in appetite – either overeating or loss of appetite
Headaches or body pain
Sweating or chills
Tremors (shaking) or muscle twitches
Being easily startled
Worsening of chronic health problems.
B – Be Aware of Signs & Symptoms
Signs & Symptoms of Anxiety
Occasional anxiety is an expected part of life. But anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. The symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as job performance and relationships. Symptoms include:
Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
Being easily fatigued
Having difficulty concentrating; mind going blank
Having muscle tension
Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep
Risk Factors of Anxiety
Researchers are finding that both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the risk of developing an anxiety disorder. Although the risk factors for each type of anxiety disorder can vary, some general risk factors for all types of anxiety disorders include:
Temperamental traits of shyness or behavioral inhibition in childhood
Exposure to stressful and negative life or environmental events in early childhood or adulthood
A history of anxiety or other mental illnesses in biological relatives
Some physical health conditions, such as thyroid problems or heart arrhythmias, or caffeine or other substances/medications, can produce or aggravate anxiety symptoms; a physical health examination is helpful in the evaluation of a possible anxiety disorder
Signs & Symptoms of Depression
If you have been experiencing some of the following signs and symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression:
Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
Decreased energy or fatigue
Moving or talking more slowly
Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
Appetite and/or weight changes
Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
Not everyone who is depressed experiences every symptom. Some people experience only a few symptoms while others may experience many.
Risk Factors for Depression
Personal or family history
Major life changes, trauma, or stress
Certain physical illness and medications
Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S. Current research suggests that depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.
Depression can happen at any age, and often begins in adulthood.
Depression, especially in midlife or older adults, can co-occur with other serious medical illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease. These conditions are often worse when depression is present. Sometimes medications taken for these physical illnesses may cause side effects that contribute to depression. A doctor experienced in treating these complicated illnesses can help work out the best treatment strategy.
Signs and Symptoms of Suicide
Suicide is a major public health concern in Ohio. Suicide is complicated and tragic, but it is often preventable. Knowing the warning signs for suicide and how to get help can help save lives, especially during a crisis like COVID-19.
The behaviors listed below may be signs that someone is thinking about suicide.
Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live
Making a plan or looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching for lethal methods online, stockpiling pills, or buying a gun
Talking about great guilt or shame
Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions
Feeling unbearable pain (emotional pain or physical pain)
Talking about being a burden to others
Using alcohol or drugs more often
Acting anxious or agitated
Withdrawing from family and friends
Changing eating and/or sleeping habits
Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
Taking great risks that could lead to death, such as driving extremely fast
Talking or thinking about death often
Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy
Giving away important possessions
Saying goodbye to friends and family
Putting affairs in order, making a will
If these warning signs apply to you or someone you know, get help as soon as possible, particularly if the behavior is new or has increased recently.
Risk Factors for Suicide
Suicide does not discriminate. People of all genders, ages, and ethnicities can be at risk. Suicidal behavior is complex, and there is no single cause. Many different factors contribute to someone making a suicide attempt. But people most at risk tend to share specific characteristics. The main risk factors for suicide are:
Depression, other mental disorders, or substance abuse disorder
Certain medical conditions
A prior suicide attempt
Family history of a mental disorder or substance abuse
Family history of suicide
Family violence, including physical or sexual abuse
Having guns or other firearms in the home
Having recently been released from prison or jail
Being exposed to others’ suicidal behavior, such as that of family members, peers, or celebrities
Many people have some of these risk factors but do not attempt suicide. It is important to note that suicide is not a normal response to stress. Suicidal thoughts or actions are a sign of extreme distress, not a harmless bid for attention, and should not be ignored. If someone is in immediate danger, call 911.
If you, or someone you know, is experiencing any of the above signs of anxiety, depression, or suicide, seek help from a professional.
C – Care for Yourself & Others
Care for Yourself & Others
Make sure self-care remains a priority.
Check in on five people every day and ask how they are doing.
If you need support, are feeling lonely and overwhelmed with emotions such as sadness, depression, anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or someone else, call 911 or check the list of emergency contact.
Caring for yourself and others is not about reassuring statements or the belief that the best way to cope during these times to just focus on the positive and push away the negative. It is important to care for yourself and others in a way that supports a growth mindset, is intentional, and is action oriented.
Source: https://mha.ohio.gov/community-partners/schools/resources/abcs-of-mental health#:~:text=The%20ABCs%20of%20Mental%20Health,these%20messages%20within%20your%20community.