Awareness of the signs of mental illness in your family, friends, and loved ones is essential. Mental illness can be severe, and if left untreated, it can lead to disastrous consequences. However, with early detection and treatment, most people with mental illness can lead normal, healthy lives.
Here are some signs to watch out for:
1. Social withdrawal or isolation
Many mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, can cause people to withdraw from social activities or isolate themselves. If you notice that someone in your life is suddenly not interested in seeing friends or family, it could be a sign that something is wrong.
Somebody dealing with mental illness may not want to burden others with their problems, so they may try to keep to themselves. It’s essential to reach out to these individuals and let them know that you are there for them. You can consult a therapist or visit a family health clinic to get more information.
2. Changes in mood or behavior
Mental illness can cause drastic changes in mood and behavior. Because of this, it’s essential to be attuned to sudden changes in the people around you. Moods and behaviors can vary depending on the type of mental illness. Still, some common signs to look out for include sudden changes in energy levels or sleep patterns, irritability, or unusual risk-taking behavior.
For example, usually cheerful people may suddenly become withdrawn and depressed. Or, typically very organized, somebody may start to neglect their responsibilities. Even small changes can be indicative of a more significant problem.
If you notice any of these changes in someone you know, you must have a conversation with them. Ask how they’re doing and if there’s anything you can do to help. Not every behavior change indicates mental illness, but it’s always best to err on caution.
3. Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
Mental illness can also affect a person’s ability to concentrate or make decisions. This can manifest in different ways depending on the individual. For example, somebody with ADHD may have trouble concentrating or organizing their thoughts. People with OCD may have difficulty making decisions because they constantly second-guess themselves.
You should also be aware of any changes in work performance. If somebody, usually a high-achiever, suddenly starts slacking off, it could be a sign that something is wrong. Try to converse with this person to see what’s going on.
4. Unexplained physical symptoms
Even if there are no changes in mood or behavior, mental illness can still cause physical symptoms. For example, somebody with anxiety may experience shortness of breath, chest pain, or a rapid heart rate. Somebody with depression may have fatigue or headaches.
Some severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, can also cause physical symptoms that are not explicable by any other means. Some of these symptoms, such as delusions or hallucinations, can be frightening. Depending on the severity, you may need to consult a mental health professional.
5. Substance abuse
Many people with a mental illness try to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. This can be a way of coping with difficult symptoms or numbing oneself to the pain of mental illness. Most of the time, these substances only make the problem worse.
If you notice somebody in your life is using drugs or alcohol excessively, you must have a conversation with them. Substance abuse can be a very dangerous coping mechanism, and getting help is essential before the problem gets out of hand. You should also be aware of any changes in alcohol or drug use, even if it doesn’t seem excessive.
Self-harm is a severe warning sign that you should not ignore. It can manifest in different ways but usually involves some form of self-inflicted injuries, such as cutting or burning oneself. Sometimes, people will engage in risky behaviors as a form of self-harm, such as driving recklessly or having unprotected sex.
Self-harm is often a way of dealing with overwhelming emotions. It can be a cry for help or a way of numbing oneself to the pain. If you notice somebody in your life is harming themselves, getting them some help immediately is essential.
You should also be aware of any changes in behavior that could be indicative of self-harm, such as sudden mood swings or withdrawal from friends and activities. If you are worried about somebody in your life, you can always reach out to a mental health professional for help.
Monitoring the mental health of your loved ones is a crucial way to keep them safe and healthy. If you notice any changes in mood, behavior, or physical symptoms, you must have a conversation with the person to see what’s happening. You should also be aware of changes in work performance or substance abuse. If you are worried about somebody in your life, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional for help.