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Mental Health Center

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10 Signs of an Ailing Mind

Experts describe the physical and mental signs that may indicate emotional distress.

Sleep and Weight

1. Sleep disturbances. If you're sleeping more than usual or less than usual, if you can't fall asleep or wake up after only a few hours and can't go back to sleep, experts say emotional distress may be looming large in your life.

"If you have recurring disturbances of sleep more than once or twice a week, and there are no physical reasons your doctor can identify, your problem may be linked to a psychological problem -- most commonly, anxiety or depression," says Goodstein.

2. Dramatic weight fluctuations/changes in eating patterns. Have you gained or lost a significant amount of weight without any changes in your diet or exercise regime? Do you find yourself constantly thinking about food -- or repulsed by the thought of eating? If so, experts say it could be a sign of emotional distress.

"Constant preoccupation with food, weight, and body image is a sign that an eating disorder is sapping energy from other areas of life," says Aronowitz. In women and young girls a loss of menstruation in conjunction with changes in appetite can also be a sign of trouble.

Also look out for a lack of appetite. Goodstein says it can sometimes be a sign of depression.

Unusual Symptoms and Short Fuses

3. Unexplained physical symptoms. If, despite a complete physical workout and even a visit to a specialist or two, no one can find a reason behind your physical complaints, it may be your body's way of letting you know that your mind is in distress.

"Unusual symptoms that resist the million-dollar workup can be a sign that your body is expressing some kind of emotional upset," says Goodstein. Problems commonly linked to emotional distress can include headaches, a rumbling stomach, diarrhea, constipation, and chronic pain -- especially backaches.

4. Difficulty managing anger or controlling your temper. Are you fine when you're by yourself but frequently get provoked to an explosion by your spouse, children, friends, or co-workers? If so, you may be on stress overload, a situation that is dangerous to your physical and mental health -- and unhealthy for those around you.

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