Contrary to common belief that mental diseases and disorders are rare or don’t occur frequently, they are actually quite common and more widespread than you think. Statistics show that an estimated 54 million Americans experience some form of mental disorder in a year. While in some cases, families and loved ones aren’t ready to accept this reality, in other cases, the signs and symptoms of these mental diseases go unnoticed or aren’t taken seriously. In either case, one needs to keep a check and be observant because there are several alarming warning signs that may ignite mental diseases in you. The American Psychological Association (APA), in its campaign to encourage troubled Americans to seek mental health care, urges people to watch out for certain signs and symptoms in individuals who might require mental health assessment. Some of these signs are as follows:
A noticeable change in personality
While changes in personality and behavior are inevitable, it is often considered a warning sign if a person isn’t acting quite like himself or herself and adopts a very different or bizarre attitude. This also includes a marked change in how one feels, acts and talks, which is often simply displayed through their behaviors, attitudes and emotions.
A decrease in everyday functioning
Although a difficulty in performing everyday tasks or a drop in school grades isn’t very unusual, when something like this happens suddenly, it is alarming. An unusual drop in interest or motivation at work, falling grades, withdrawal from social activities, change in every day functioning and daily tasks coupled with a lack of interest in doing things, for example quitting sports, is often deemed as a sign.
Tossing and turning in bed all night, having trouble sleeping and staying awake for hours could also be a symptom. These also include persistent changes in a person’s sleeping patterns. For instance, experiencing insomnia or sleeping too much or too little could very well be a sign of sleeping disorder.
Weight loss and changes in appetite
Losing your appetite for some days is one thing, but facing a continuous disinterest in food and eating is another thing and possibly indicates something serious. This loss of appetite obviously leads to considerable weight loss, which can be quite alarming.
Engaging in risky behaviors
People with mental diseases can often tend to display a lack of self-care and may indulge in behaviors that are risky or dangerous. They lose concern about their health and well-being and may indulge in behaviors like drinking or drug abuse which can be very detrimental to their health. In addition to this, they may also show little or no interest in grooming themselves or maintaining personal hygiene.
This involves cutting off all social ties and contacts and spending time alone in solitude and isolation. A sudden withdrawal from friends, family and favorite activities may also occur as a result and people may even start avoiding public places and also begin cancelling all sorts of social events or gatherings.
One of the signs also includes constant complaints of physical problems like headaches, body aches, digestive problems, and pain in particular parts of the body without obvious causes. While you may keep complaining about these pains and aches, chances are that doctors cannot exactly pinpoint what the issue is.
Severe changes in emotions
This is often characterized by sudden and severe changes in a person’s moods and emotions during which a person may display uncharacteristic anger, anxiety, moodiness, hostility, violent behavior, etc. These mood changes range from extremely low to extremely high and in each case, people can also display unusual behaviors.
Feeling anxious and worried all the time
While daily life stress and worry is quite normal, consistent anxiety and feelings of worry or helplessness could possibly be indicative of mental health problems. Symptoms of anxiety can typically include restlessness, heart palpitations, headaches, shortness of breath, and a constant feeling of worry or panic all the time.
Delusions and hallucinations
This can be extremely alarming because delusions and hallucinations are not experienced by people on an everyday basis. This includes having strange thoughts and seeing or hearing things that aren’t really there. It is often also accompanied by a difficulty or lack of ability in perceiving reality. The person may also display disorganized speech, catatonic behavior, and negative symptoms like apathy, emotional flatness, etc. which are all symptoms of schizophrenia.
Another sign is experiencing cognitive decline which may include memory loss, difficulty in communicating or explaining things, failing to find or use the correct words, confusion or disorientation, facing difficulty in problem solving and reasoning, inability to plan and organize, etc. This could also be an indication of mixed dementia and while there is an online sage test called brain test available for early diagnosis, this might be a call for professional medical help.
Persistent feelings of emptiness with suicidal tendencies
Loss of interest in hobbies and activities which one once found enjoyable and pleasurable is also one of the signs. This is often accompanied by persistent sadness, anxiousness, and feelings of emptiness that never seem to go away. A person may also go through phases of extreme hopelessness, pessimism, negativity and over time, she could also possibly have suicidal thoughts and may even attempt it.
Obsessional thoughts, images and impulses
Because having obsessional thoughts and impulses is not a common or everyday phenomenon, experiencing such obsessions can be a sign of a mental disease. Here an individual may experience repetitive and distressing thoughts, images or urges and may feel driven to perform certain behaviors as a response to those obsessions. These can also lead to significant distress and can interfere greatly with their everyday functioning. On their own, these symptoms and signs may not mean anything but when experienced in combination, they could possibly be an indication of specific mental diseases. One should always be on a lookout for such signs and always observe their brain health in order to prevent any future ailments.