Fun Fact: According to the NHS, the top 3 causes of memory loss are depression, anxiety and stress. How do I know this? Because earlier this week I found myself googling whether or not you could get early onset dementia at 22 or whether my brain could just be turning to mush in my head. It turns out that instead? I just tick those top 3 boxes for memory loss.
This is just one of many odd side effects that I’ve found are linked to my mental health problems. In fact, the reason I was originally diagnosed with depression is because I could not stay awake. Not in a 'growing teen who parties all night' kinda way either, but a 'I could sleep for 18 hours straight and still be tired' kinda way. I went to the doctors 3 times with the problem before we twigged that paired with a loss of appetite, a prolonged state of feeling emotionally numb and generally struggling to cope with the all the highs and lows that come with uni, it was looking like depression.
I was also diagnosed at the time with anxiety, something that I’m still getting to grips with a couple of years later. It always astounds me that people struggle to prioritise mental health alongside the physical. It’s pretty rare to experience a mental health problem without the side effects spilling over to the physical side of things. As a very basic example, take a panic attack. The characteristics include heart palpitations, sweating, trembling and nausea. Personally that means sweating, my heart going berserk and feeling like I’m going to throw up and cry or run away and cry…. those are all pretty physical symptoms. Another example are the joys of IBS. I get flare up of this whenever I go through periods of stress in high intensity… this normally also means times of high anxiety.
Luckily for me, I’ve had a bit of a lull in my anxiety lately and going to weekly counselling sessions has seriously helped with the depression. I’ve been feeling upbeat, motivated and ready to crack on. I’ve got a new job lined up, I’m moving flat (and city) and it’s all very exciting. So what’s led to my early week googling, worried for my grey cells?
It turns out that whilst I might be feeling well on the surface, depression is not something you just shake off. I’ve been experiencing my old cotton wool head again (you know that feeling when you have a cold, where your head feels like it’s stuffed with cotton wool? And thinking straight is like wading through treacle?), my memory is appalling and people have started to notice at home and work too. I’ve booked into the doctors in a couple of weeks to see if there’s anything they suggest but it looks like for now I’ve got to come to terms with the fact that I am more inclined to depressive periods and all the fun that this entails.
I think it’s important to share that depression doesn’t look like a stock image of someone crying and holding their head. Sometimes it’s a very confused 22 year old trying to work out what she was doing 5 minutes ago or getting her words muddled in a meeting at work…. or being bloated and a bit sweaty with a thundering heart. If you’ve got prolonged feelings of low mood as well as disrupted sleep patterns, a change in appetite or anything that I’ve mentioned above you might want to book an appointment with your doctor. For more info take a look at the NHS website here.
Have you experienced side effects of your mental health issues? We'd love to hear from you. Leave us a comment below!
Hannah is 22 years old and the founder of Hello Me, it's You. She was diagnosed with depression and anxiety whilst at University and the charity has helped her meet loads of other young people going through mental health issues too. She's realising that she's not so alone in her experiences and wants to help other people realise that as well. She love cocktails, Disney films and YA novels and is always happy to chat to new people.
Hello Me, it's You
Welcome to the Hello Me, it’s You blog! We are launching this blog with weekly content from different contributors, giving their opinions and experiences on all things Mental Health.