Understanding the signs and symptoms of mental illness may not only help you better manage your own mental health, but it may also equip you with the knowledge to help someone else.
Mental illness affects millions of people worldwide. It is understood that people may experience mental health issues from time to time. However, when those mental health issues become severe and/or affect daily functioning, it may indicate early signs of mental health condition or disorder or illness.
Mental illness can cause significant disruptions to your life, including school, work, and relationships. However, it is important to note that mental health issue/illness will look different for different people. And so, a comprehensive understanding of personal, genetic, environmental, medical, and circumstantial history is required – which is usually done by a trained mental health professional.
Nevertheless, it is important that you understand and recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness. Understanding early warning signs or developing symptoms can help prevent or manage mental health issues. Mental health issues do not resolve on their own. In fact, they often get worse. And therefore, early identification of signs and symptoms of mental illness can help minimize the severity or prevent a major mental illness altogether.
The signs and symptoms of mental illness may include:
- Feeling excessively anxious or worried
- Emotional outbursts
- Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
- Inability to cope with daily problems or stress
- Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, or worthlessness
- Feeling sad, down, 'blue', or unhappy
- Feelings of apathy and disconnectedness
- Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
- Withdrawal from family/friends and activities
- Significant fatigue and low energy
- Decline in personal hygiene or care
- Problems sleeping
- Problems with alcohol or drug use
- Major changes in eating habits – too much or little eating (i.e., marked weight or appetite changes)
- Confused thinking or diminished ability to concentrate
- Illogical or irrational thoughts/thinking
- Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations
- Experience of physical ailment without apparent causes
- Marked changes to usual behaviour/routine (i.e., display of odd, uncharacteristic, and peculiar behaviour)
- An unusual drop in performance – deterioration of functioning at school, work, or social life
- Suicidal ideation
One or two of these symptoms alone cannot qualify as a mental illness but may indicate a need for further evaluation. If an individual is experiencing several of these signs and symptoms at any given time such that they are causing significant disruptions in personal, professional, and social life, they must be referred to a GP or mental health professional. Individuals with thoughts or intent to harm either themselves or others need immediate and urgent attention.
If you are or someone you know is struggling with any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms, I encourage you to seek help. Please contact your GP and/or a mental health professional.