Posted By Lorana Price On December 3, 2018
Mental disorders are common and widespread. You might be surprised to know an estimated 54 million Americans suffer from mental illness in any given year. 1
What is mental illness?
A mental illness is a disease causing disturbances in thought and/or behavior. This results in a person’s inability to cope with life’s typical demands and routines.
There are more than 200 forms of mental illness. Common illnesses are depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. Symptoms may include changes in mood, personality, personal habits and/or social withdrawal. 1 Staying aware of the warning signs of mental illness can help you determine whether a client, friend or coworker is in need of help or further testing.
8 Warning Signs of Mental Illness
Feeling sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks
Retreating into oneself and avoiding hanging out with friends or participating in social activities could be a sign of depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders.
Severe mood swings
Mood swings can not only cause problems in relationships but can also be a sign of mental health concerns.
Intense worries or fears
If these fears get in the way of performing daily activities, then they should be addressed to help the individual make it through a typical day.
Trying to injure or kill oneself, or making plans to do so
Suicidal thoughts are nothing to be trifled with and should be taken very seriously. They are often signs of a mental illness needing immediate intervention.
Significant weight loss or weight gain
Not wanting to eat or refusing to eat entirely are the central symptoms of anorexia nervosa, which is a serious psychiatric disorder. Anorexia often occurs alongside other mental illnesses, including depression and anxiety. Binge-eating and night eating have been linked to schizophrenia.
Severe risk-taking behavior with potential to harm self and others
Impulsivity and sensation-seeking behaviors can lead to risk-taking behavior, including promiscuity, gambling, reckless driving and alcohol or drug use. Before a dangerous situation occurs, it’s critical to get to the root cause of these behaviors.
Drastic changes in behavior, personality or sleeping habits
Up to 80% of people with a mental illness have problems with sleep. This is frequently seen with different anxiety disorders, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and bipolar disorder. It could mean sleeping too much or too little, tossing and turning or waking up a lot during the night. These sleep disturbances can impact treatment.
Extreme difficulty concentrating or staying still
Most often people think of ADHD with this sign; however, in depression, this could mean trouble focusing and remembering things. Similar problems with memory and concentration can occur with schizophrenia, along with difficulty solving problems and slower reaction times. Other mental illnesses have cognitive problems, which can affect daily functioning.
Diagnosing a Mental Illness
Unlike diabetes or cancer, there is no medical test to accurately diagnose mental illness. A mental health professional will assess symptoms and make a diagnosis using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association. The manual lists criteria, such as feelings, behaviors and time limits needed to officially classify a mental health condition. After diagnosis, a health care provider can help develop a treatment plan. Treatment plans usually include medication, therapy and, potentially, lifestyle changes. 2
At Patagonia Health we are raising our voices to fight the stigma against mental illness. Help us by speaking up or sharing this post.