More about common mental health issues from our physiologists
Everyone can feel low from time to time, but depression can make you feel persistently unhappy for weeks or months at a time. If you have depression you might feel a sense of hopelessness and lose interest in things you used to enjoy. You might also feel tearful and anxious, constantly tired and have reduced libido, appetite and motivation.
What can help?
Lifestyle changes can help improve mood in people suffering from depression. Stop drinking or smoking, eat healthily, spend more time outdoors and make time for regular exercise. A doctor might prescribe talking therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or antidepressants – or a combination of both. If you think you might be experiencing a mental health issue, our virtual doctor service can provide you with the reassurance and direction to help get you back on track. You can book a virtual appointment at a time that suits you and speak to someone in your language. You can find out more about the service and how to use it, here.
The human body has a fight, flight or freeze response that’s designed to prepare us to take action against a threat. If you have anxiety, your body triggers this response inappropriately – for example as a reaction to negative thoughts. This leads to a combination of both physical and psychological symptoms including feeling on edge, difficulty concentrating, feeling a sense of dread and also dizziness, shaking, stomach cramps, ringing in the ears or a racing heart.
What can help?
Mindfulness has shown to be very effective in helping people with anxiety recognise their thoughts and feelings. If you’re interested in giving mindfulness a try, we’ve recently developed two mindfulness podcasts to help our customers around the world find a bit of quiet in their minds. Why not give them a go? They’ll guide you through mindful walking and mindful breathing.
Other ways to reduce anxiety include yoga, breathing techniques and reducing your intake of sugar, caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. If your anxiety is severe, you might also be offered antidepressants to help regulate your mood or beta-blockers to help with the physical symptoms, as well as talking therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
Stress and burnout
The right amount of stress in our lives is useful and helps us thrive. But too much can become overwhelming and start to affect our mental health. Burnout relates specifically to work stress and feeling over-worked and undervalued. Both can cause symptoms such as a sense of being out of control, feelings of loneliness and worthlessness, low self-esteem, difficulty quietening the mind, general aches and pains, weakened immune system, racing heart and general lethargy.
What can help?
Unlike many mental health issues, stress and burnout often has an identifiable cause. Addressing this will hugely help to reduce your stress levels. You can also try relaxation techniques, finding time to unwind, not checking work emails outside of work hours, and reducing screen time. Spending time doing things you enjoy with family and friends will also help to improve your mood.
An important part of managing stress is resilience – or how easily you’re able to ‘bounce back’ from a difficult experience. Resilience is in all of us, but it’s like a muscle that needs to be trained to become stronger. We’ve developed some top tips for building resilience for you and your family.
The information in this article is correct at the time of publishing.