Mental health conditions are increasingly becoming common amongst the masses. From 1990 to 2017, the ratio of mental illnesses to the overall burden of illness has doubled in India. An estimated one in seven Indians in 2017 suffered from mental disorders of varying severity with the most prominent being depression and anxiety. It was estimated that around 197 million Indian suffered from mental health disorders in 2017, with 46 million experiencing depression and 45 million experiencing anxiety disorders.
There are standardised manuals such as ICD-10 and DSM-V which can provide a structured criteria to diagnose an individual with depression and anxiety. However, there are many signs and behavioural manifestations of these disorders which are exhibited in a person early on, which may go unnoticed.
People can feel easily agitated in their day-to-day interactions with others and this can be one of the reasons why they withdraw from social interactions as well. They might feel that other people are unable to understand them.
Gaining or losing weight
People experiencing depression can witness a significant amount of loss or gain in weight with a short span of time.
Sleeplessness or Lethargy
One is likely to experience difficulty in getting out of bed or getting engaged in a task. People are likely to find comfort in one particular place and they tend to spend their entire day over there. They might even report that they don’t feel like engaging in anything as they feel tired and rather sleep. Some people also experience what is called ‘daytime fatigue’ that is, they feel lazy throughout the day, even after sufficient sleep at night.
Experiencing Unmanageable Feelings
They may experience a bout of emotions all at once, which is not focused on one particular situation or interaction. It has also been seen that people experience a lot of anxiety and fear as well.
People who get depressed might even engage in behaviours to hurt themselves physically as they feel extremely helpless and hopeless about their situation. They might feel that there may not feel an end to this concern and they feel that they themselves are the main problem.
Low sexual desire
Many people exhibit a partial or complete lack of pleasure and feel that they do not find joy in life anymore. This may also be manifested in the form of having decreased sexual urges or having none at all.
Feeling irritated or displaying irritable behaviour is a commonly occurring symptom of anxiety which gets unnoticed. As a person’s sympathetic nervous system is aroused when they perceive a danger and their body alerts them (people then may experience increased heart rate/sweating/sensitivity) in order to protect them of any harm. However, a person who suffers from anxiety, has an overactive sympathetic nervous system which makes them sensitive to environmental cues and respond with irritation or feel irritated more easily as compared to someone else.
Unrest or feeling tied up or on the verge
People who are anxious may feel restless internally, they might even feel that they are stuck and always on the edge of things (unable to take a firm decision). This could possibly be that they are constantly worried about the future, which keeps their flight or fight mode activated.
Being quickly tired
Another sign of anxiety that people may experience is feeling drained very easily. People who have chronic anxiety may not feel rested, even after sleeping and taking a break. This is largely because they anticipate threats, due to which their body is mostly in flight or fight mode, ready to face a dangerous situation. This leads to using up bodily resources every now and then and contributes to fatigue.
Concentration challenge, or the mind goes blank
Individuals experiencing anxiety are likely to focus their cognitive energy on negative thoughts and experiences which inturn boosts their anxiety. Thus, as they are ruminating, they have difficulty directing their attention on any other work.
These are some of the prominent features of depression and anxiety which may go unnoticed as they are not primary indicators of these two disorders, but rather secondary manifestations. Please note that secondary manifestations alone cannot diagnose a person with a particular disorder, kindly do not label people as depressed or disordered, on this basis.
If you or someone you love are experiencing something similar to what we discussed in this blog, please reach out for help to a mental health professional.
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Disclaimer: Please note that we are not a crisis intervention helpline. Should you have severe symptoms or have thought about harming yourself, please seek immediate medical help or call suicide prevention helplines such as
Aasra 24x7 Helpline: 91-22-27546669