Dear Therapist is for informational purposes only, the questions and queries are sent in from our readers. This column does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, mental-health professional, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
How do I figure out if I'm going through emotional exhaustion or mental illness?
Emotional exhaustion versus mental illness can look similar, especially now during the pandemic. The pandemic has us all in an extended lockdown forcing us to stay at home with our thoughts and redefining how we function. This quarantine with our thoughts has unleashed introspecting, and us getting to know ourselves better (the good, bad, and ugly!)
Emotional exhaustion is a common feeling now, and it is reflective of the distress that may cause a disinterest in daily activities, tiredness, fatigue and lack of motivation. While we may all experience some amount of stress and anxiety in our daily lives, prolonged stress and anxiety is likely to cause emotional exhaustion. The triggers for emotional exhaustion vary from person to person but the symptoms of it reflect changes in sleep, appetite and motivation to exercise.
Some physical and emotional symptoms of emotional exhaustion include headaches, physical fatigue, apathy, and feelings of dread, nervousness, irritability, helplessness, anger and sadness. These symptoms effect our perception of ourselves and environment. Do you feel you’re experiencing any of these? It would be a good idea to reflect on your feelings for the past few weeks to understand if it is emotional exhaustion.
Mental illness is difficulty with activities of daily living, changes in cognitive functioning (confusion, distortion) and behavioral changes. This umbrella term refers to mental health disorders that include but is not limited to depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. Each disorder has different symptoms.
The symptoms of these are fairly large and vary depending on the experience of the person. However, if in doubt my suggestion is to first monitor your sleep and appetite. In addition, reflect on your clarity and stability of thought and emotion. If you have noticed severe disturbances in these areas for more than 1 week, my suggestion is to speak to a health professional regarding your experience. A mental health professional will be equipped to go through your experience in detail and understand whether you are experiencing a mental health concern or not.
Nonetheless, I understand you may be running low on motivation but reaching out to a mental health professional to help you work through either your emotional exhaustion or mental illness will be beneficial to you.
She believes emotional and mental health care are at the very core of us experiencing happiness in our life. Her qualifications include a Masters in Clinical Psychology and in Counselling and Psychotherapy. Priyanka enjoys working with young adults and understanding life as it changes with intrusions like the internet and the pandemic. Above everything else her true love is homemade chocolate cake.