Common Warning Signs of Mental Illness


Despite the common television depiction of mental illness, major mental disorders don’t appear overnight. There isn’t a defining moment where a person begins to “go crazy”, and most often the buildup of illness can be recognized well before the mental health issues can become severe.

YOften family and friends of those struggling with mental illness, and even the individuals themselves, recall feeling as if things aren’t quite right based on unusual behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that appear before mental illness completely manifests.

Also, most mental illnesses are best treated when caught early. Thankfully, this means keen observation and education about the symptoms and early warning signs of mental illness can help delay or possibly prevent mental health issues before they get out of hand.

The most common signs of a developing severe condition include:

  • Recent social withdrawal and loss of interest in others.
  • Any unusual drop in functioning, especially at school or work, such as quitting sports, failing in school, or difficulty performing familiar tasks.
  • Problems with concentration, memory, or logical thought and speech that are hard to explain.
  • Loss of initiative and desire to participate in any activity; apathy.
  • A vague feeling of being disconnected from oneself or one’s surroundings; a sense of unreality.
  • Unusual or exaggerated beliefs about personal powers to understand meanings or influence events; illogical or “magical” thinking typical of childhood in an adult.
  • Fear or suspicious feeling of others or a strong nervous feeling.
  • Uncharacteristic, peculiar behavior.
  • Dramatic sleep and appetite changes or deterioration in personal hygiene.
  • Rapid or dramatic shifts in feelings or ‘mood swings’

If you or someone you know are encountering these feelings or behaviors, it may or may not indicate mental illness. But, it never hurts to visit a professional to assess how severe the symptoms are and whether or not they interfere with your ability to participate in day to day activity.

If you are having suicidal thoughts or attempts, or bizarrely violent or homicidal thoughts, they require immediate attention and you should contact a professional immediately to address these feelings before they become overwhelming.

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