Do you feel as if the days go on one by one, without any motivation? It's not that you necessarily feel sad or depressed, but you also don’t exude positive emotion. You might even be willing to exercise and keep up your health routine, but there's no sparkle in your days. Good news, like the possibility of retuning to some normalcy this summer, doesn't excite you. Has this happened to you recently? Well, you're not alone.
There has been a lot of discussion around the increase in mental disorders due to the pandemic. There are more cases of depression, stress, and anxiety than have ever been seen. Not all mental health experts believe you can lump post-COVID psychological disorders in the same bag, though. Some refer to general boredom, while others mention a term that, although not new, has begun to strongly resonate: languor. It means feeling stuck or in limbo, without a purpose that motivates and shakes you up, in order to move forward and thrive. But there is hope because any negative mental state can be overcome with appropriate professional help.
Every negative mental state isn’t depression
It’s comforting to know depression is not always the reason why we are feeling less than good (1). Each of us contains a well of emotions that we can be experiencing, a level of different emotional states if you will.
In the mid 1990’s, a group of mental health experts began speaking up about this. They explained a sort of void in which you aren’t necessarily doing bad, but also not feeling a robust goodness (2). It’s basically a middle ground between two extremes, depression versus general well-being which is where we expand our horizons, plan, create goals, and fulfill them while maintaining relationships with others.
They used the term flourishing as a measure of positive mental health and general well-being in an adult. At the other extreme would be languishing which, while not depression, is closer to an absence of mental health (2). These conclusions were not random. A 1995 study carried out in the United States measured mental health in adults aged 25 to 74. The participants were rated on a group of symptoms of emotions and acting positively or negatively in the face of circumstances on different levels or scales. According to this study, when a person fails to overcome languish, he or she may be creating the perfect environment for future mental health deterioration.
This occurs because, when we are in a state of indifference or emptiness, there are negative side effects such as a decrease in concentration, productivity, and socialization, among others. These symptoms can increase the chances of developing depression (2). The research study concluded that an adult in a state of languor is twice as likely to suffer from depression as a moderate mentally healthy person, and six times more likely than someone at peak capacity or flourishing (2).
To better understand the concept, compare it to your immune system. If immunity is low, it is easier to become sick in the short (or medium) term. The same happens at the emotional and mental level. Being in limbo can leave you more vulnerable to environmental, personal, or social situations that will negatively and profoundly affect you. The state of your mental health also greatly influences your physical responsiveness.
At the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Ghana, a survey was conducted to collect data on the mental health of adult patients with anemia, using the same measurement scale created in 1995. The results showed that most participants that developed a better quality of life were also in a flourishing mental state (3).
This could explain how some people are more capable of overcoming difficult moments in life, with resilience and a glass half full mentality.
Support the mind out of stagnation
Mental health is just as important as physical health. For that reason, it should be treated by professionals. Poor outcomes in cases of depression, for example, are due to a lack of timely and professional care. It’s like going to the dentist when you have a toothache, or a visit to the cardiologist to check on the heart. Treat your mental well-being as you would any other cornerstone or command center.
In 2010, the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) presented the results of a new study led by the same team in the 1995 study mentioned previously, comparing that data with another study from 2005 (4). They were able to prove that although the different levels of negative mental health like depression, panic, and generalized anxiety were still occurring, they could be modified to less intensity because they are dynamic. Above all, the right help at the right time can do a lot of good for the mind.
A professional can guide us on concrete steps to take to reactivate mood, find new ways to grow, integrate and socialize, among other benefits, helping us out of emotional stagnation.
We can also support ourselves using natural supplements that help with stress management, like ashwagandha (5). Consider others that support energy and stamina, such as CoQ10, ginseng, and maca. (6, 7, 8)
Stay physically active, look for new options to exercise, and increase serotonin in the brain naturally to generate feeling good. (9)
Participate in support groups or activities that are in line with our interests or that represent a small challenge to generate that elusive emotion.
We are survivors of an important stage in human history. That alone makes us heroes and heroines. Little by little, we can rebuild who and what we were. Or ideally, create an even better version of ourselves. It’s just a matter of time. At the end of the day, we are all in the common struggle to find that flourish again.
So let's get healthier, together.
Your Santo Remedio Team
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