Signs of mental illness and where to get help
Mental illness plagues at least one in five adults in the U.S. It can emerge in response to a difficult life experience, or just as a physiological development. The good news is that mental illness is treatable, but knowing when to seek help can sometimes be a challenge. Following are some signs of mental illness.
Decline in personal care: Losing interest in personal hygiene and appearance are early signs that someone is struggling.
Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits: A sudden increase or decrease in appetite can be a sign that your body is having a stress response. Look for weight loss or weight gain over a fairly short period of time. Likewise, needing several extra hours of sleep every day or being unable to sleep can be symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Social withdrawal: The world is full of brilliant introverts who prefer alone time. If, however, you are feeling a sudden and persistent loathing for social situations or a complete unwillingness to interact with people, that may go beyond introversion.
Substance abuse: A desire to self-medicate in order to battle negative feelings can lead to greater struggles. Watch for an increase in alcohol use, unnecessary prescription medication use and/or illegal drug use. If you feel you NEED a substance to get you through a situation, take a closer look.
Persistent, penetrating sadness: If you find yourself feeling hopeless, or if someone you love expresses persistent hopelessness, this may indicate that the sadness is coming from inside.
Excessive fears and worries: We all worry, but fears and worries that interfere with our daily experiences in school, work or social circles can be cause for concern.
One or two of these signs, does not mean you necessarily have a mental illness. If you are struggling with everyday functions and experiencing several symptoms at once, it’s time to call a doctor. Your family doctor is a good place to begin for a referral or advice on next steps. You can also call 211 to talk with a professional about local options for mental health care. If you or someone you know has thoughts of self-harm or thoughts of harming others, seek emergency medical help immediately.