Mental health disorders are often assumed to be rare, but according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, about one in five adults in the US experience some type of mental illness in a given year. Additionally, there are over 200 classified forms of mental illness, with symptoms and intensity varying among individual patients. This means that while chances are high that someone you know could be suffering from mental health issues, it might not be easy to detect.
There are significant benefits of early intervention and treatment for adults with mental illness, so it’s important to pay attention when you perceive sudden behavioral and mood changes in someone you love. Some of the signs listed below could be the result of recent trauma or substance abuse, but they may also indicate a mental disorder. Either way, it’s important to seek professional help from those qualified to diagnose and treat the problem. Read on for common signs of mental illness in adults:
Withdrawal from normal activities
An unusual reluctance to participate in social activities and hobbies, and a general loss of interest in other people can often be an indicator of mental illness, especially when paired with decreased functioning at work and difficulty handling daily problems or stress.
A sudden onset of problems with concentration, memory, logical thought, and speech that cannot be explained by other medical conditions can be the result of undiagnosed mental health issues.
Some mental health disorders are marked by increased sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells, or touch, so much so that people with these symptoms often avoid over-stimulating situations, such as social events or activities that involve large crowds.
Change in habits
Mental illness can affect even basic habits like sleeping and eating. Symptoms might include frequent fatigue or low energy, difficulty falling asleep, increased hunger or lack of appetite. Remember, it’s the change of habit you want to look out for, not the habit itself. Changes in sex drive or personal grooming routine may also point to a mental disorder.
Uncharacteristic behavior and mood
Unusual behavior that results from mental illness may be as mild as increased irritability or as serious as suicidal thoughts and abuse of alcohol or drugs (which are often used to “self-medicate”). Rapid shifts in mood, such as uncontrollable highs followed by all-consuming lows, are also signs of mental illness. Excessive sadness, nervousness, worry, and fear are some of the most common signs.
Sense of disconnection
Some people with mental illness have a vague feeling of being disconnected from their surroundings or their own self, or a pervading sense of unreality that makes it difficult to function. This can also manifest in illogical or “magical” thinking, or in extreme cases, delusions and hallucinations.
Lack of self-awareness
One of the reasons it’s so important to pay close attention to loved ones who might need mental health treatment is that some people with mental illness are unable to perceive changes in their own feelings, behavior, or personality. This lack of self-awareness, called anosognosia, will often lead people to deny they have a mental illness, and that’s when they need your support the most.
We can help
If a worrisome combination of the above signs describes a loved one—or yourself—you may want to consider an evaluation at a professional mental health treatment center. At Alvarado Parkway Institute, our mission is to support clients in their quest for stability, serenity, and a high quality of life that’s difficult to attain when living with an untreated mental illness. We offer diverse therapies, individualized treatment, and a continuum of care that is tailored to each patient’s changing needs. If you or a loved one needs help, call our 24-hour crisis line at 619-667-6125 or fill out our contact form, so we can help get you on the path to living your best life today.