8 Subtle Signs Isolation Is Affecting Your Mental Health
Last Updated: 08 Oct 2020
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Here are 8 overlooked signs that you may be struggling with depression.
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, so much has changed— our daily habits, routines, and social networks have had to adapt and change to meet new health and safety standards.
Many in-person jobs have transitioned to remote work. Social distancing guidelines have shrunk our day-to-day interactions. Vacations and travel plans have been canceled or changed en masse.
And while these changes may be keeping us physically safe and protected, they can also leave us feeling lonely and isolated. According to one study conducted in mid-July, 53% of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus, an increase of 20% since March.
The same study indicates that social isolation was a big factor negatively impacting the mental health of adults in the United States.
But with so much change going on, how can you tell what’s going on internally? According to Aileen Serrano (LPC, LCDC, and Lead Clinician at The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Endeavors, El Paso), the beginning signs of depression can actually be very gradual and subtle.
“You may start isolating yourself from family and friends, experience low energy levels, start sleeping too much, feel physical pain, feel irritable, etc,” Serrano said.
Here are a few often overlooked signs that you may be struggling with depression.
Pay attention to your appetite.
Depending on the person, your appetite may increase or decrease. If you experience significant weight loss or gain (more than about 5% in a month), you may want to think about why you’re eating more or less.
Social anxiety may surface.
Are you having a hard time interacting socially? One study noted that people experiencing depression reported less satisfaction in their day-to-day interactions.
Sleep patterns can be telling.
Our sleep patterns can be very telling. Some people experiencing depression may start sleeping significantly more, while others develop abnormal levels of insomnia.
You may experience irritability.
While it’s normal to feel a little irritable every once in a while, constant agitation or low tolerance for the inconvenience may be worth noticing. One study found that over 50% of the depressed participants were feeling annoyed or irritated more easily than they used to.
Your perfectionism may increase.
Being a perfectionist may get you great results in your job, but it can also be a problem for your mental health. People who experience depression often feel strong self-criticism. One study found that “Self-criticism was positively associated with depressive symptoms and negatively associated with self-compassion.”
Reckless behavior can be a sign.
While some are drawn to perfectionism, others attempt to escape from negative feelings by engaging in reckless behavior that drives endorphins or serotonin to spike. If you begin feeling the need for escapist behavior like gambling, reckless driving, dangerous sports, or excessive substances or alcohol, you may need to take a look at your mental health.
Focusing may become more difficult.
Experiencing brain fog? You’re not alone. Many people on the edge of depression notice concentration problems, trouble focusing, and impaired memory. You might find yourself having trouble making decisions or understanding simple concepts.
Your hobbies might be less interesting.
If you find yourself less interested in hobbies you’ve always loved, take a second look. This phenomenon is called “anhedonia,” and it’s directly linked to depression and other mood disorders.
Hope is not lost.
Do you see yourself or a loved one suffering from several of these symptoms of depression? If so, the good news is that you’re not alone. From medical professionals to support groups, everyone can find the compassion and healing they need. (Pro Tip: Here are a few tips on How To Talk To a Friend Struggling With Depression)
How to seek help
If you find you’re struggling and you want to seek mental health treatment, we strongly recommend following your instinct. Talk to your doctor, seek help through a trusted friend or family member, or speak directly with a therapist or counselor. If you’re thinking about suicide, you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
If you’re a Veteran or Veteran family member, we would love it if you’d reach out to our Mental Health Services! The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinics at Endeavors® provide high-quality, accessible, and integrated mental health care to Veterans and military families, regardless of role, discharge status, or ability to pay. Additionally, our Veteran Wellness Center provides mental health services to Texas Veterans and their families who have chronic long-term mental health needs.
About Cohen Veterans Network:
Cohen Veterans Network is a 501(c)(3) national not for profit philanthropic network of mental health clinics for post-9/11 veterans and their families. CVN focuses on improving mental health outcomes, via a network of outpatient mental health clinics for veterans and their families in high-need communities, in which trained clinicians deliver holistic evidence-based care to treat mental health conditions. The network currently has 17 clinics in operation serving veterans and their families across the country. Learn more about Cohen Veterans Network.
Endeavors is a longstanding national non-profit that provides an array of programs and services in support of children, families, Veterans, and those struggling with mental illness and other disabilities. Endeavors serves vulnerable people in crisis through innovative personalized services. For more information, please visit endeavors.org.