Signs of Mental Illness – Exploring the Signs and Symptoms
The signs of mental illness are often difficult to see at first. Many people are naive and think that mental disorders won’t ever affect them or anyone they love. They believe that things like mental illness are only things that they see happen to people on the TV. Unfortunately, this idea is far from the truth. There are over 50 million people in the United States alone that have been diagnosed with some sort of mental disorder to date.
Like most people, you probably are not ready to deal with the responsibilities that arise when either you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a mental illness. The signs of mental illness creep up slowly and, before you know it, you will have to deal with the disease head on. This can be one of the hardest times in our lives. Dealing with any type of ailment can be extremely trying both mentally and physically. As our stress elevates, it can actually worsen the condition itself.
Fortunately, there is more than enough help available for those who reach out. You need to always remember that you are never alone. Whether you are caring for someone with an emotional disorder, or if you were the one diagnosed, you are not alone.
What exactly is Mental Illness?
A mental illness can be defined as a specific disease that causes negligible to very severe interferences in both thought and behavior. To be diagnosed with such a disease, these disturbances will have to be severe enough to keep you from moving forward with every day routines that are required of a healthy individual.
There are many different types and classifications of mental illnesses and disorders; much more than can be touched upon in just one article. The more common disorders include anxiety, dementia, bipolar, depression, and schizophrenia. While each disease has its own specific symptoms, general signs of mental illness include sudden changes in behavior, drastic mood swings, noticeably different personalities, deteriorating personal habits, and withdrawal from social activities that were previously enjoyed.
These illnesses can be attributed to a sudden jump in stress that arises from one traumatic situation or series of situations. A mental disorder can be brought on by physical events such as stress from your surrounding environment, genetic inheritance, or a biochemical imbalance within the brain. A large portion of these mental illnesses can be treated to a point where the individual can lead a normal, full, and happy life. It will, however, take time and patience to recover once one has been diagnosed.
The line that exists between a mentally healthy and mentally sick individual is often blurred. Of course, there are situations that are very clear cut. For instance, someone who hears voices or who has imaginary friends is most likely suffering from schizophrenia.
There are other signs of mental illness that often go unnoticed for long periods of time. Sometimes they’re never noticed at all. A good example would be a person exhibiting manic symptoms of bipolar disorder. In this case, the person will probably exhibit extreme happiness, confidence, and motivation. They will appear to be constantly on the move, trying to take on ambitious tasks. Obviously, this is not a warning sign of a mental problem to most people. It may take a trained eye several months to pick up on these symptoms.
The point is that it is very hard to tell what can be described as normal behavior and what is a sign of a deeper issue. The following list describes common signs of mental illness. If you are worried that you or a loved one may be suffering from an emotional disorder, this list may help.
Signs of Mental Illness
Before you read this list, remember that psychiatrists and psychologists go to school for many years to learn how to diagnose emotional disorders. This list is simple to let you in on some of the warning signs that are associated with mental illness. If you are truly concerned, it is always best to visit a doctor.
Adult Signs of Mental Illness
• Long Term Depression
• Experiencing Extreme Highs or Lows
• Fear, Worry, or Anxiety That is Excessive
• Social Withdrawal
• Extreme Anger
• Drastic Sleeping or Eating Changes
• Hallucinations or Uncommon Delusions
• Not Able to Cope with Daily Activities
• Contemplating Suicide
• Physical Injuries That Are Not Explained
• Denying Obvious Facts
• Problems with Drugs or Alcohol
• No Interest in Previously Enjoyable Activities
• Skipping or Slacking at Work
• Sudden or Extreme Mood Swings
• Self Inflicted Physical Harm
• Extreme Change in Sexual Desire
• Inability to Sleep
• Sleeping to Excess
• Overwhelming Anxiety, Irritability, or Agitation
• Constant Fatigue
• Self Isolation
• Constantly Moving
• Hearing Voices
• Seeing Things That Aren’t There
Teenage Signs of Mental Illness
• Abusing Drugs or Alcohol
• Unable to Complete Normal Activities
• Extreme Changes in Sleep
• Constant Complaining of Physical Injury
• Acting Out, Cutting School, Theft, Vandalism
• Extreme Fear of Weight Gain
• Long Term Negative Mood
• Unexplained Anger Outbursts
Child Signs of Mental Illness
• Sudden Negative Change in School Performance
• Bad Grades Despite Trying Hard
• Extreme Anxiety
• Hyperactive or Constantly Moving
• Constant Nightmares
• Refusal to Follow Rules
• Highly Aggressive
• Many Hissy Fits
What is Normal?
Because there is no clear cut test available to determine a clear diagnosis of a mental disorder, it is often very difficult to determine a normal, healthy mind and one that is suffering from a disorder. The signs of mental illness will generally affect your life in a negative manner. As a rule of thumb, negative changes in the following three areas can be cues of an emotional disorder:
• Feelings: Constant sadness, happiness, or anger can mean that there is a biochemical imbalance present in the brain.
• Thoughts: Contemplating suicide on a regular basis or having extreme delusions can signify a mental problem.
• Behavior: Obsession, doing everything to excess, or acting out can all be signs of mental illness.
You need to acknowledge that the possibility of a disorder of the mind for you or a loved one is not the end of the world. There are treatments and things that you can do to get your emotions under control in a way that a normal life is possible in the future.
At first, you need to accept your feelings and emotions as legitimate. You are not wrong for feeling the way you do. By ignoring or denying your feelings, emotions, and symptoms, you will only be prolonging a process that absolutely needs to happen. It is best to be open with yourself and your family about what is going on within your lives.
Creating a group of family or friends that you can rely on during this stressful period in your life is essential. You need a group of people that you can vent to during the times you may be overwhelmed with the disorder in which you are dealing. If you do not feel comfortable speaking to friends or family, you can join one of the many self-help and support groups available all over the country. These groups are comprised of like minded individuals who understand what you are experiencing and can help you get through it.
The most important thing you can do is seek treatment. If you have identified a few signs of mental illness in yourself or a loved one, it is essential to seek out help. A mental health professional can help you feel better about the situation within one simple consultation. By not seeking treatment, you are only causing yourself to suffer more than is necessary.
Always remember that you are not the only person that has dealt with an emotional disorder. There are treatments and people that can help you get better. You need to place your trust with others, even if that sounds really hard. If you identify with any of the signs of mental illness, please seek help immediately.