We often think of mental illnesses as purely mental, with no physical symptoms. Though many medications cause physical side-effects, the illnesses themselves (before treatment) often do take a toll on your body.
It's crucial to educate yourself about these physical symptoms to remind yourself that mental illnesses aren't "just in the mind". Additionally, it's important to watch out for any symptoms you might've been experiencing in conjunction with emotional issues so you can receive a correct diagnosis.
1 Burning mouth syndrome
Burning mouth syndrome (BMS) is characterised by the sensation of burning or tingling on the lips, tongue, or mouth. It can also feel like your mouth has been scalded (imagine the pain you get when cheesy pizza burns your mouth). It happens regardless of whether you've eaten spicy food or burnt your mouth on something hot. It's a syndrome in itself, but studies have linked it to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.
"I felt like my mouth had been burnt for weeks," a depression sufferer who wished to remain anonymous told us. "When I Googled it, I was shocked that the NHS said it was linked to depression. Up until that point, I was in denial about being depressed."
It's important to remember that your depression could be causing BMS or the pain of your BMS could be causing depression. To be sure, visit your GP to get the correct diagnosis.
2 Numb and tingling hands
Tingling hands are one of the stranger symptoms of anxiety. It can be painful, or feel numb, or simply feel like pins and needles. The sensation may be caused by hyperventilation, when an individual breathes out too much carbon dioxide, but can also be triggered by stress.
"I've not felt my hands tingle, but they tend to shake, and I have felt them go numb before as well." says Christine Wong, a 20-year-old English student with anxiety. If you're suffering, this online test will help determine if your tingling hands are anxiety related.
Headaches and migraines are symptoms of anxiety disorders, mood disorders, depression, and even OCD. It's 2015, and most of us know not to scorn mental illness as somehow "less" than physical, but remembering that mental illnesses do actually cause physical pain can only help further our understanding.
Both anxiety and depression can cause a person to become constipated. This is because stress can suppress the gastrocolic reflex (basically, the bodily action that precedes pooping). Obviously, constipation can be caused by many, many things, but if you are experiencing other symptoms, this can also signal that something is wrong mentally.
Additionally, as well as being a sign of mental illness, constipation is often a side effect of medications used to treat sufferers.
5 Hair loss
Telogen effluvium is the shedding of hair that occurs for a variety of reasons. One cause, however, is emotional stress.
It's a complicated subject because hair loss is more commonly connected to hormonal changes, but depression, anxiety, and stress could be the cause of these hormonal changes in the first place. Many depression sufferers report losing their hair and feel that there is a connection between this and their mental health.
If you're suffering from hair loss, go to the doctor and get a blood test to determine the cause. More than anything, it's important to remember that stress, depression, and anxiety can wreak havoc with a sufferer's body and to be sensitive about these issues.
6 Stomach aches
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - which is anxiety caused by a major trauma - has many physical symptoms like chest pains, migraines, and stomach aches. It is the prime example of how psychological illnesses can cause physical pain.
"[My stomach aches] ALWAYS come at the same time of the year," writes on individual on the My PTSD forum, "so I suspect a trauma anniversary (I don't know the date as I was so young)".
Sweating is one of the most common symptoms of anxiety. It's one of your body's natural responses to danger, and we all do it from time-to-time when nervous. However, if you find yourself sweating excessively or too often, you should visit your GP to test for anxiety.
8 Word salad
People with schizophrenia may suffer from verbal symptoms such as stopping mid-sentence, pausing, or speaking nonsense.
When random words are strung together in sentences that make no sense, this can be called "word salad". An example would be: "typing while sleeping and running while cat".
Vertigo is a dizzy sensation characterised by feeling like you, or the world, are spinning. It's a symptom of lots of different things, including mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and postpartum depression.
If you've been having dizzy spells or getting light-headed easily, it's important to go to the doctor to discover the underlying cause. If you've been feeling depressed or anxious, it's important to bring this up too.
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