Mental illness can co-occur with substance abuse or occur on its own. Identifying signs and symptoms early on allows you or a loved one to get the necessary treatment. Doctors typically diagnose mental illness by the signs someone shows, but it can be tricky since disorders can overlap or occur together. Only a trained specialist can make a definitive diagnosis, but here are six typical signs someone may have a mental illness.
Signs of Mental Illness
Keep in mind, there are more signs and symptoms to look out for, but these are common warning signs that include behavioral changes seen in mental illness.
- Withdrawal and Apathy: One of the most common signs a mental illness is present is a withdrawal from society or not caring about things you once did. A loss of interest in things you use to love is a big warning sign. Staying home more or in your room and not wanting to interact with people could mean depression or anxiety.
- Emotional Outbursts: On the other hand, you might be too emotional or have sudden outbursts you didn’t before. These are called “loud” features of mental illness, according to Anita Everett, MD, and president of the American Psychiatric Association. Me time is important, of course, but when you become isolated, it’s a sign something else may be going on. Someone with bipolar may switch back and forth from apathy to mania, getting way excited about something. A person with schizophrenia may be anxious is they believe they’re being followed or spied on and act very distressed.
- Problems with Thinking: Mental illness can take a toll on certain aspects of the brain, such as with critical thinking skills, trouble concentrating, and remembering things. This is common with depression and makes the person feel disconnected or muddled in their thinking. It can occur with schizophrenia and include slower reaction times and difficulty in solving problems. These signs can affect your daily life, including home, school, work, and relationships. These dramatic changes signal something mental may be developing or has developed and needs addressing.
- Insomnia or Trouble Sleeping: An astonishing 80 percent of those with a mental illness have problems sleeping, especially with anxiety or panic disorder. Depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and bipolar are notable mental illnesses where sleep is affected. Whether you sleep too much or not enough, it’s essential to address the underlying reason, so you can get the rest your body needs to function properly. Interestingly, sleep disorders can contribute to one developing mental illness. Note that the amount of sleep isn’t nearly as important as the quality of sleep. You can get ten hours of restless sleep or six hours of deep sleep and REM sleep. The latter is better for you. It is much better to establish a nightly routine that includes going to sleep and getting up at the same time for your overall health.
- Changes in Appetite: Eating disorders, namely anorexia nervosa or bulimia, or changes in appetite, can make a big impact on your life. Not wanting to eat or refusing to eat, or eating and then vomiting shortly after is a serious psychiatric disorder and goes along with depression and anxiety disorders. Binge-eating disorder or night eating can be the result of schizophrenia. Not eating enough can lead to weight loss, and too much is a warning sign that your mental health is suffering.
- Unusual Behavior: Anytime someone acts out of character for them is a warning sign. Regarding mental illness, it’s the main sign. When a social butterfly becomes an introvert, something’s amiss. It may be confusing since it may not occur daily but over time — which can happen over a few weeks to a month. If it continues to happen, it may be the result of mental illness
Need Help with Mental Health?
If you see these signs in yourself or a loved one, consult with your doctor and get a definitive diagnosis. After, we invite you to contact us to learn how we can help, especially if substance abuse is contributing to or is the effect of mental illness. Our staff is trained to provide care and support that includes a holistic approach so that you can get back your life again.