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Common Warning Signs of Mental Illness

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Many people believe that mental illnesses, also called mental health conditions and mental health disorders, are relatively uncommon and unlikely to affect them personally. The truth is that mental illness affects a quarter of the population in a given year and does not discriminate based on age, gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.

Statistics Related to Mental Health Conditions

The following statistics reported by Johns Hopkins Medicine are the latest from the National Institutes of Health – National Institute of Mental health Disorders:

  • In any given year, about one in four American adults, approximately 26% of the population (67 million people) ages 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder.
  • Mental health conditions, such as clinical depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder are some of the main causes of disability.
  • Approximately 9.5% of Americans aged 18 and older will suffer from major depression, dysthymia, bipolar disorder, or other depressive mental illnesses.
  • People often suffer from more than one mental health condition at one time. It’s common for depressive disorders to co-occur with anxiety disorders and substance use disorders.

What Is a Mental Illness?

A mental health disorder is a brain-based condition. It affects the person’s thinking, behaviors, and emotions. It makes them experience unexpected and extreme mood changes, such as intense, prolonged worry or sadness for no discernible reason. Mental illness can make it difficult to think clearly or respond appropriately to others.

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Mental Health Conditions

Major mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia do not “just appear.” Usually, the person developing the disorder or one of their family members or friends notices little changes or suspects that something is not quite right about their behavior, feelings, or thinking.

Learning about the early warning signs of mental health conditions can help the person get prompt treatment before the illness becomes more severe. The symptoms and signs of mental health disorders can vary, depending on several factors, such as the specific type of disorder, the individual, and the circumstances. Having one or two of the symptoms below does not necessarily predict a mental health condition, but it may indicate a need for further assessment. If several of the signs are present and causing problems with relationships or work, the person should see a mental health professional or physician as soon as possible. Individuals need immediate attention and help if they have thoughts of harming themselves or others or have suicidal thoughts or intent.

  1. Change in feelings or demeanor: A mental health disorder may cause the person to experience increased and intensified feelings of sadness, worry, panic, or hopelessness.
  2. Mood changes: They may have dramatic and rapid shifts between emotional extremes, along with increased irritability.
  3. Drop in functioning: The person may show an unusual and noticeable drop in functioning at work, school, or social activities, such as having difficulty performing familiar tasks, failing in school, or quitting sports.
  4. Feeling disconnected: They may have a vague feeling of being disconnected from themselves or their surroundings. They have a sense of unreality.
  5. Cognitive problems: They may have problems with memory, logical thinking, concentration, or speech that they cannot explain.
  6. Increased sensitivity: They may have heightened sensitivity to smells, sounds, sights, or touch. The person will avoid over-stimulating situations.
  7. Change in sleeping habits or patterns: When compared to previous sleep routines, the person may sleep too little or too much.
  8. Appetite or weight changes: Overeating, binge eating, eating very little, or extreme dietary changes can indicate depression.
  9. Loss of interest: The person may begin avoiding family, friends, and activities they once enjoyed.
  10. Low energy levels: The individual may not be able to carry out their daily activities, perform their job, or participate in social activities. They may sleep too much and be unmotivated to care for themselves.
  11. Difficulty interacting: People with mental health conditions often have difficulty relating to others. They may seem extremely irritable or sullen.
  12. Changes in work or school: They may have problems with coworkers or peers, have an increase in absenteeism, and have a worsening performance.
  13. Apathy: They lose the desire to go anywhere or participate in any activity.
  14. Nervousness: They have a strong nervous feeling or are suspicious or fearful of others.
  15. Unusual behavior: They may demonstrate behavior that is uncharacteristic, peculiar, or odd.

Help is Available

Addiction to drugs or alcohol and mental health disorders often co-occur in many people because they use the substance to self-medicate. If you or a loved one needs help with a substance use disorder or mental health disorder, contact Canyon Vista Recovery Center in Mesa, Arizona. We will answer your questions and help you travel the path to recovery.

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