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Thinking Man on Couch

Spot the signs

With a physical illness, it's easy to see what's wrong and offer support. With mental health and financial wellness, it's not to easy to spot the signs and symptoms.

One in four people in the UK experience a mental health issue in their lifetime, and one in seven are currently living with poor mental health at work. Emotional health relevant to everyone.


What are the physical changes linked to someone experiencing poor mental health?


  • Appetite changes - such as eating too much, or not eating at all and seeing a rapid change in their weight

  • Looking or stating they're feeling tired all the time, with a lack of energy, could mean they aren't sleeping well

  • Complaining of aches and pains can indicate physical tension or a low mood

  • Stomach upsets can be linked towards low mood and anxious feelings

  • Shaking, being overly fidgety and twitchy can be a sign of anxious feelings.


What are the behavioural changes linked to someone experiencing poor mental health?


  • Poor concentration and reduced productivity

  • Being emotional and seemingly extra-sensitive to comments

  • Being withdrawn and a lack of interest

  • Out of character behaviour


These are the signs and symptoms taken from Bupa.

Everyone reacts to stress differently – it can depend on your personality and how you respond to pressure. But there are some common effects to look out for.

Mental effects of stress can include:


  • feeling that you can’t cope

  • constantly worrying

  • finding it hard to concentrate and remember things

  • feeling disappointed with yourself

  • lacking confidence

  • seeing only the negative things in life.

Emotional effects of stress can include:

  • mood swings

  • feeling irritable or having a short temper

  • feeling overwhelmed

  • feeling depressed or anxious

  • feeling more emotional – you might be more tearful or sensitive.

You might also start behaving differently and you may:

  • eat more, or less, than usual

  • sleep too much or too little

  • drink alcohol, smoke or take illegal drugs to relax

  • become more aggressive

Stress can affect you physically too and cause problems such as:

  • feeling tired and that you have no energy

  • trouble sleeping

  • stomach ache

  • aches and pains

  • diarrhoea and constipation

  • feeling sick

  • chest pains, or tightness in your chest

  • headaches.

These are the signs and symptoms taken from Bupa.


You might:

  • feel low all the time

  • not enjoy or want to do any of the things you usually enjoy

  • feel guilty

  • feel helpless

  • feel worthless or have a loss of self-esteem or self-confidence

  • feel hopeless, you might feel that it’s too hard or painful to live and have thoughts about death or suicide.


Physical symptoms

Depression isn’t just about how you feel mentally; you might change your behaviour and get physical symptoms too. Aches and pains are sometimes what people notice first.

You may:

  • cry in situations in which you wouldn’t usually cry

  • feel tired and lack energy

  • have trouble sleeping – possibly taking one or two hours to go to sleep, and especially waking up earlier than usual

  • get unexplained or worsening aches and pains

  • have constant headaches

  • feel restless or agitated

  • have poor concentration and find it difficult to make decisions.


You might be:

  • smoking or drinking more alcohol than usual

  • eating more or not being hungry, often resulting in weight gain or weight loss

  • avoiding your family and friends, or cancelling plans you’ve made.

These are the signs and symptoms taken from Bupa.

How does anxiety feel?

When you are anxious, you may feel worried or stressed about the future. You may also:


  • have difficulty sleeping (insomnia)

  • feel tired

  • feel irritable

  • have trouble concentrating.


There are a lot of different ways that people can experience anxiety. The feelings can also either be about something in particular or about life much more generally. Some people who experience anxiety also have depression.

There can also be physical changes to your body when you become anxious. This happens when your body releases adrenaline. Adrenaline is a hormone that historically has helped us to ‘fight or flight’ – to either fend off danger or run away from it. In the modern world, adrenaline is more likely to be produced in situations where, although you feel anxious, you are not actually in physical danger.

The physical symptoms of anxiety can include:


  • a racing heartbeat (palpitations)

  • tension in your muscles, which may be painful

  • stomach cramps

  • feeling sick

  • diarrhoea

  • shortness of breath or breathing quickly

  • dizziness or feeling faint

  • needing to go to the toilet more often than usual

  • trembling or shaking

  • sweating

  • a headache

  • numb or tingling fingers, toes or lips








Bupa has lots of information on their website about different health conditions, sharing the signs and symptoms and next steps for treatment. Stress, depression and anxiety are the most common mental health illnesses. click on the logo to head to the Bupa website

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