Content warning: this article references mental health and topics which might cause distress.
Life is full of change; we are constantly moving from one state to another. We change jobs, grow and develop as people. Making mistakes to learn and grow from, changing the way we approach issues. This especially applies to mental health as it can fluctuate just as much if not more so than other aspects of life.
Why does mental health change?
There are many different factors that can affect your mental health such as environment, workload, relationships, seasons and even diet. With so many factors being able to change the way we think and feel our mental health can change at any time for any reason.
Often times these changes are a complex combination of biological and environmental factors. With many serious conditions stemming from childhood and only materialising later in life, with specific events acting as triggers. Some research around schizophrenia points towards a biological predisposition and chemical activators such as THC from cannabis being a cause for symptoms. This is however different for every individual and with people reacting differently to different stimuli in wildly different ways.
SAD or seasonal affective depression effects more than 2 million in the United Kingdom and 12 million people across northern Europe, it is currently unknown why SAD is caused but it is thought to be related to light exposure and some hormone rhythms changing over the winter period. You can read more omn this here.
Your mental health may change in other ways due to the knock-on effects symptom have on your behaviours, routines and emotions. You might think that a single change might not be cause enough to warrant action, but the ripple effect this can have on other aspects of your life can create a downward spiral taking away your motivation to do the things you enjoy. This ripple can be difficult to stop as the main cause can be unrelated to what is manifesting as the result.
Is it bad that my mental health is changing?
Not necessarily, some changes are small and create reactions that will pass and might only last an hour or a couple of minutes. These tiny changes and shifts often mean nothing but they can also be effects of a much larger problem and only manifest themselves at certain time. Which might give the illusion that everything is alright without actually examining the underlying issue.
This is why keeping a journal or diary is important so you can keep track of your mood, giving you the foresight to notice patterns you may not have considered at the time or simply forgotten about. It is easy to miss the little details and get lost in your own head when you’re experiencing a time of mental turbulence.
However not all change is bad, treatment and keeping a positive outlook can change your view for the better and you might be transitioning from a rough patch in life. Being able to look back and see where you’ve come from can often give you a boost to change further.
What if these changes are affecting me?
If you think that something is affecting you it is really important to be vocal and reach out for help, It can be very easy to remain silent but this will never lead to any closure. Experiencing any kind of mental health issues whether they are just feeling down for the day or anything more serious, talking to a friend or family member can offer a way to vent.
This is a great option that can provide support and advice, but if you don’t have that kind of support network or simply don’t feel comfortable sharing there are plenty of other alternatives. The stigma associated with many mental illnesses it can make it difficult to open up, while times are changing some people adapt faster than others and there is no pressure to go to anyone close if you don’t feel comfortable.
Charities offer a great place for advice with no judgment or pressure. Mind, CALM and Samaritans offer helplines as well as information on many issues which can help to inform. Alongside these charities, there is also the NHS which can offer many forms of treatment as well as diagnosis, so you can get the correct support.
Noticing changes in your mental health can be daunting and might lead us to do nothing. But by being more honest we can have a healthier relationship with our mental health avoid the issues that changing mental can relate to.