11 Side Effects of Mental Illness They Don't Talk About...

By Char Shields - April 05, 2019

Mental illness is something that is often glorified online and in the media. Although society is slowly progressing, we still have a long way to go. And a part of this process is talking about the things that are usually a taboo.

Depression, anxiety and bulimia have given me some horrible side effects over the years. Some, I didn't even know were caused by my poor mental health. Today, I thought I'd share some.

1. Not Showering For Days

When our mental health is feeling at it's worst, basic things such as taking care of your hygiene becomes literally impossible. I've had periods where I haven't showered for days, sometimes even a week. Not pleasant, I know, but standing in a shower can just feel like too much.

2. Not Looking After Your Teeth

Something else that becomes difficult is brushing your teeth. Which leads to some pretty horrible dental problems. My teeth and gums were in perfect condition before I got depressed. Now, that's a completely different story which isn't great when you don't have the funds or the motivation to visit a dentist...

3. Weight Loss And Gain

Food can either become your best friend or your worst enemy when you're mentally ill. For me, this has been both. And this can lead to very drastic weight loss or weight gain. Goodbye happy and healthy medium.

4. Sleeping Either Too Much Or Too Little

My sleeping patterns are something that continue to shock people. When you're depressed, it's actually quite normal to suffer from insomnia and get little to no sleep at night. Or to sleep for 14 hours straight. I continue to do both of these things and no matter what: I still feel exhausted.

5. Obsessively Spending Money and Getting Into Debt

This one really hurts. As a way to cope with the troubles we're dealing with internally, it's not unusual to spend excessive amounts of money on things to make us feel better. This is something that has been worsened by my eating disorder as I obsessively spend money on food for binging, and then clothes for my forever changing weight.

6. No Motivation For School, University and Hobbies

Mental illness has a way of taking your spark away from you. Everything that you enjoyed before: you no longer have interest in. Your passion dies for the things you once loved. And whilst it's at it, it takes away your motivation to attend school, college, university and even work. You then feel guilty for falling behind. It's a never-ending, very vicious cycle.

7. Messy and Unclean Room

I cannot remember the last time I cleaned or tidied properly. Now and then I get a slither of motivation to do so, but it's minimal at best. Instead, what happens is clothes pile and pile on your floor, recycling doesn't get taken out and a thick layer of dust and dirt covers everything you own. It's very grim... but you're too ill to give a damn.

8. Bad Skin and Hair

Poor mental health has very real physical side effects on your body. It can cause acne, your hair becomes weak and knotted and your nails brittle. This happens for many reasons, one of them being the lack of motivation to take care of yourself. Another being your immune system is weakened. You'll be shocked to know what stress and low mood does to your skin and hair.

9. Low Libido

Mental illnesses and anti-depressants can absolutely kill your sex drive. It's not unusual to find that you have no interest in sexual activities when you're suffering which is completely okay. This will come back in time as you recover, don't put pressure on yourself.

10. Forgetfulness

Being very forgetful is a pretty annoying side effect. For example, I always forget where I've put my phone and lose it about 20 times a day. Sometimes I'll forget walking somewhere, even if I just did it. Right now, I'm forgetting what I was going to write. What was I doing again?

11. Isolation

For me, this has been possibly the worst thing about depression: the physical and emotional isolation.

You can feel isolated in your own thoughts, making you feel alone even when you're with a group of friends. But you can also become physically isolated, shutting yourself away from people from huge lengths of time. I've been weeks without seeing anyone at all. This does nothing but worsen your illness and increase suicidal thoughts. It sends you down such a dark road which I'm frightened of going down again.

These are just a few side effects that I've experienced which I feel need to be spoken about more. We're all for making ourselves seem aware and open about mental health but I don't believe we truly can be until we talk about the taboo.

If you have any others then please feel free to share them in the comment section below!

Until the next time,


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  1. Let me know what else you experience, taboo or not. There's no judgement here!