Know the Warning Signs Trying to tell the difference between what expected behaviors are and what might be the signs of a mental illness isn’t always easy. There’s no easy test that can let someone know if there is mental illness or if actions and thoughts might be typical behaviors of a person or the result of a physical illness. Each illness has its own symptoms, but common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following:     Excessive worrying or fear     Feeling excessively sad or low     Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning     Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria     Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger     Avoiding friends and social activities     Difficulties understanding or relating to other people     Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy     Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite     Changes in sex drive     Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person     experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality)     Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack     of insight” or anosognosia)     Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs     Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach     aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)     Thinking about suicide     Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress     An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance (mostly in adolescents)
Mental health conditions can also begin to develop in young children. Because they’re still learning how to identify and talk about thoughts and emotions, their most obvious symptoms are behavioral. Symptoms in children may include the following:     Changes in school performance     Excessive worry or anxiety, for instance fighting to avoid bed or school     Hyperactive behavior     Frequent nightmares     Frequent disobedience or aggression     Frequent temper tantrums Where to Get Help Don’t be afraid to reach out if you or someone you know needs help. Learning all you can about mental health is an important first step. Reach out to your health insurance, primary care doctor or state/country mental health authority for more resources. Contact the NAMI HelpLine to find out what services and supports are available in your community. If you or someone you know needs helps now, you should immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 911.
Finding Treatment Getting a diagnosis is just the first step; knowing your own preferences and goals is also important. Treatments for mental illness vary by diagnosis and by person. There’s no “one size fits all” treatment. Treatment options can include medication, counseling (therapy), social support and education.
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