Humans suffer from mental illness just as often as they suffer from physical diseases. Unfortunately, most people choose to ignore the signs and symptoms of mental illnesses. But it has a way to manifest despite being pushed back.
In general, psychological distress and illnesses affect a person’s overall emotional, cognitive, behavioral, spiritual, and physical functioning. For instance, someone experiencing a blue mood has trouble concentrating at work. They may also fall short of functioning well at home, school or social settings.
It is essential to be mindful of the warning signs of mental illness. Here’s a self-help guide to your mental well-being.
What are the Symptoms and Signs of Mental Illness?
Certain warning signs suggest that you are mentally ill. It is the subjective experience that involves faulty patterns of thinking, emotions and behaviors. Major mental illnesses today are depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. These mental health disorders result in mood changes, problematic thinking, unusual behaviors, declining health, sleep problems and/or appetite changes.
For that matter, mental health practitioners stress the importance of psychological well-being to fight traces of mental illnesses. But first, one must keep track of the symptoms and signs of mental illnesses in order to determine what to do next.
A mood swing points toward sudden shifts in the individual’s emotional state that either get too intense or pushes one into a blue mood. You may observe a person being happy and then angry, sad, or irritable, all within a span of a few minutes.
Although most of us experience mood swings in routine, the intensity and frequency could be indicative of a mental illness or disorder.
Mood swings suggest mental severe illnesses such as:
- Bipolar disorder
- Major depressive disorder
- Persistent depressive disorder
- Borderline Personality disorder
- Schizoaffective disorder
- Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder
- Substance misuse or abuse
Certain life circumstances play a significant role in the onset of mood swings suggesting mental illnesses. For instance, the person may:
- Feel overwhelmed or stressed due to stressful conditions at home, school, or work
- Be taking medications for a certain physical illness that causes mood swings
- Have experienced a life-changing event such as moving to another state, school, or job
- Not be getting enough sleep due to tough routine at work or strained relationships
- Exhibit emotional outbursts due to distress, anger, or resentment in life
Hormonal imbalances may also lead to significant mood changes during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause. These imbalances are observed to be more common in females than in males.
If you are finding it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or go back to sleep once awaken – it could be indicative of an underlying psychological condition. Persistent changes in the sleep cycle point toward the signs of mental illness.
Faulty Thinking Patterns
A major risk factor that increases the probability of having mental illnesses is having a faulty or negative thinking pattern. Thoughts like “I am worthless,” “I am a failure,” “Everything hurts,” “They are after me,” and “I should die” suggest distorted thinking patterns with feelings of guilt or hurt attached.
These are characterized as cognitive distortions where inaccurate perceptions and beliefs lead to faulty thinking patterns. It affects the overall mood and pushes the individual into a state of despair leading to risky behaviors.
Mental health practitioners are of the view that sudden changes in behavior could also be indicative of mental illness. For instance, a child’s declining performance at school or an individual’s sudden lack of interest in things he/she would previously enjoy.
It is important to reach the root cause of these behaviors and make an accurate diagnosis. Getting help at an early stage is a step in the right direction.
Unusual and odd behaviors may be expressed in the form of:
- Avoiding social gatherings
- Anti-social behaviors
- Hyperactive behavior
- Temper tantrums
- Inability to perform activities
- Changes in sleep schedules
- Changes in eating habits
- Changes in sex drives
- Excessive drinking or drug use
- Experiencing hallucinations or delusions
- Suicidal ideation
A combination of disturbing emotions, thoughts and behaviors together shows the signs of mental illness.
Mental Illness Diagnosis and Treatment Plan
Once you have identified the presence of the above warning signs, it is easier to seek help with a professional. Firstly, receiving an accurate diagnosis would assist in the treatment of mental illness.
Unlike physical diseases, mental illness diagnoses are most often not made through blood tests or scans. These diagnoses are made with the help of behavioral observations, history taking and assessments such as specific test batteries or statistical scales. In addition, a mental disorder diagnosis is made by following careful guidelines stated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder by the American Psychological Association.
Once a diagnosis is established, the professional will collaboratively work with the individual on a treatment plan that is most suitable for him/her. Psychological treatment could also be a combination of medication and behavioral intervention, psychotherapy, talk therapy, counseling or lifestyle changes.
How to Overcome Mental Illness?
There are certain guidelines for the treatment of mental illness. Mental disorders not only disrupt an individual’s overall cognitive functioning but also impacts their quality of life. Therefore, it is important to seek professional help for your mental health wellness.
Consult a Mental Health Provider
Examining the warning signs of mental illness, mental health counselors carve out an effective treatment plan. These practitioners have excellent observation and communication skills which aid them in assessing a client’s mental health. Their primary responsibilities involve offering therapeutic interventions for psychological disorders.
The following are the treatment plans offered by mental health providers:
- Talk therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Family therapy
- Group therapy
Certain lifestyle changes should be made at the early stage of mental health illness. Firstly, it is important to acknowledge and accept your own feelings, moods, and emotions. This would offer insight into the causes of your mental condition. By delving into an individuals core beliefs and traumatic experiences reprocessing, a person is able to deal with their depressive mood, anxiousness, and stress in a more productive way with the help of the therapist.
Clinicians suggest certain lifestyle changes that help an individual fight their mental illness. For instance, physical exercise, meditation and healthy hobbies are a way to fight occasional stress. For others, going out with their friends, socializing, and engaging in recreational activities work best. In addition, some people write journals to keep track of their moods and to stay mindful of their mental health wellness. Also, eating healthy food is the key to a healthy mind. Once you have your body and mind in alignment, it will be easier to maintain sound mental health.
In order to help ourselves better, it is essential to reserve a me-time during the day. Take 30 minutes’ time to listen to yourself, see things in perspective and develop an action plan accordingly. This would help you gain clarity in life and keep your mental health in check. Contrarily, you could also avail yourself this time to write a journal, read, paint, dance, or meditate.
Get in touch with your mental health counselor if you experience any of the above-mentioned warning signs of mental illness. Camali Clinic offers expert mental health services in Dubai to help individuals lead a mentally healthy life. If you or someone you know is fighting mental illnesses, then we suggest you consult our child and adult psychiatrists. Get better help today and take charge of your mental health.
Mr. Gabriel Rafi
- Graduated in neuropsychology and cognitive psychology from University Paris Descartes, France.