When Good Changes Lead to Bad Health
Monday, October 29 2012 Natasha Tracy
We all have good things happen in our lives. It might be marriage, a child, a new job or a stunning new hair color. All these things are good, but all these things are also changes. Good changes, but changes nonetheless. And as someone once said, “change is bad.”
Good changes are, like I say, good, but people often react badly to even positive changes. Things like having a child or getting a new job can be exceedingly stressful even if they are also positive. In fact, marriage is considered more stressful than being dismissed from a job according the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale – a scale designed to rate stresses that can contribute to illness.
And stress can cause:
- Memory and concentration problems
- Focus on the negative
- Anxious or racing thoughts, worry
- Moodiness irritability
- Feeling overwhelmed, lonely and isolated
- Nausea, dizziness
- Eating and sleeping changes
Stress Makes Mental Illness Worse
And stress makes mental illness worse. Those above reactions, in fact, could be symptoms of a mental illness in and of themselves, so if you’re already suffering from say, anxiety or depression, the stress can easily make these symptoms worse to the point where you are unable to handle them.
Stress Can Make a Mental Illness Impossible to Deal with
And kicker is, you don’t even have to feel stressed out for it to affect your mental illness. At least that is my experience. I have had positive changes in my life, like new jobs, for example, that didn’t feel stressful for me but really degraded my mental health to the point of ending up in the hospital.
Combatting the Stress of Positive Changes
In my opinion, then, the key to dealing with changes, positive or otherwise, is to anticipate the stress and anticipate the decline in mental health before it happens. Don’t wait for it to hit you. Don’t wait for the depression. Don’t wait for the suicidality. Don’t wait for the hospital stay. Take evasive action immediately.
When a change is upcoming, enhance your wellness plan or make sure you stick to it. Change can often upset the things we do for ourselves to keep well, like exercise, but it’s critical that during times of change we stick to our plans, keep taking our medications, keep going to psych appointments and therapy and so on. In fact, if you’re not in therapy, during times of change you might want to consider going. Or join a support group. Anything to enhance your mental wellness before the stress has a chance to get you. What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t feel stressed and your mental health is OK? That’s not such a bad worst case scenario. Yes, focusing on wellness during times of change can be challenging, but it’s essential unless you want to end up dealing with a much bigger problem than a new boss.
Because I don’t believe times of change have to be negative, but I believe they sure can be, especially if we don’t deal with them up front. I’ve learned this the hard way – hopefully you don’t have to.