What are the early warning signs of mental illness? In this post, we will discuss signs of mental illness, its causes, and prevention.
Many people believe mental health issues are rare and happen to others. But the fact is mental health conditions are widespread and quite common. According to a report, in 2017, 197.3 million people were suffering from mental disorders in India, comprising 14.3% of the country’s total population.
Many families don’t know how to deal with the news that their loved one has a serious mental illness. It can be emotionally and physically draining, and it can leave us vulnerable to the judgments and opinions of others.
It is important to remember that there is help and hope for anyone who thinks they may be suffering from a mental or psychological problem.
What is Mental Illness?
Mental illness is a brain condition that can affect thinking, emotions, and behavior. Because we all have brains, it is quite common to experience some type of mental illness at one time or another.
People with mental illness have brains incapable of thinking, feeling, or acting in the way they desire. This can lead to sudden and extreme mood changes, such as feeling sadder or more worried than usual. Others may experience a lack of ability to think clearly or communicate with others. They might also feel unable to explain their feelings.
There are over 200 types of mental illnesses. Depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and dementia are some of the most common mental disorders. Changes in mood, personality, and/or personal habits can be signs of a disorder.
Stress may lead to mental health problems. Mental illnesses, like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, can be both physical and emotional. A reaction to environmental stressors, genetic factors, biochemical imbalances, or a combination thereof can lead to mental illness. Many people can overcome a mental illness or other emotional disorder with proper treatment and care.
Causes of Mental Illness
Most mental illnesses are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Here, we have discussed 3 common causes of mental illness.
- Biological. People who have mental illness in their blood are more likely to develop it. Certain genes may increase your risk of developing a mental illness over time, and some life situations may trigger it.
- Environments exposure before birth. Sometimes, mental illness can be caused by exposure to stressors, inflammatory disorders, drugs, alcohol, or drugs in the womb.
- Brain chemistry. Neurotransmitters, which are brain chemicals, are natural brain chemicals that transmit signals to other parts and bodies of the brain. If the functions of the nerve receptors and nervous systems involving these chemicals become impaired, depression can occur, and other emotional disorders may result.
Early Warning Signs of Mental Illness
There are many early warning signs of mental illness. They can vary depending on the person and the problem. Here are the most common symptoms of mental illness. If more than one of these symptoms occurs, consult your doctor. Note if these occur suddenly.
- Mood changes. Your feelings can change over time or suddenly. They can also shift from one day to the next. You may feel happy, excited, or in control of a situation one day. You may feel sad, down, or upset the next day or in a different situation.
- Changes in your sleep habits. You may not feel the need to sleep as much, or you start sleeping way too much.
- Uneasiness. You may feel afraid, anxious, nervous, or panicked all the time.
- You may experience a decrease in performance. It may be more difficult to do things that were once easy or enjoyable. You may see a drop in your school grades.
- Inattention. There are many things that could cause you to lose interest in certain people or things. This can cause complete or partial withdrawal.
- Alternate senses. Sound, touch, sight, and smell may become less or more sensitive.
- Lifestyle changes. It can lead to sleep problems or eating disorders. An eating disorder is a condition where you eat more or less than usual or none at all.
- Troubled thoughts. It’s quite possible to have clouded thinking that makes it hard to remember, focus, or process things.
- Behavior changes. You may experience behavior changes that are unusual.
- Loss of control. You may experience a decline in your ability to manage stress, tasks, and life’s demands.
- Disconnect. You may feel disconnected from reality due to mental illness. You might feel distant, lost, or numb. You might experience hallucinations, nightmares, or other paranormal phenomena. It is possible to lose your ability to relate to others and show concern.
Although one or two symptoms can’t be used to diagnose a mental illness, it may indicate the need for more evaluation. A person should see a psychiatrist or mental health professional if they are experiencing multiple symptoms at once. Suicidal thoughts, intent, or harming thoughts are serious and should be treated immediately.
Mental illness is not preventable. However, if you are suffering from a mental illness, it is possible to take steps to reduce stress, increase resilience, and boost self-esteem to help manage your symptoms. These are the steps to follow:
- Listen to your body and talk to your doctor to find out what could be triggering your symptoms. You will know what to do in case your symptoms return. If you feel any changes in your symptoms or your feelings, you should contact your doctor. To be on the lookout for warning signs, you might consider inviting your family and friends.
- Routine medical care is important. Even if you feel unwell, don’t skip your checkups. There may be a new condition that you need to address or side effects from medication.
- Seek help immediately. It is more difficult to treat mental health issues if you wait for symptoms to get worse. A long-term maintenance program may also be helpful in preventing a relapse.
- You must take good care of your body. This includes regular exercise, adequate sleep, healthy eating habits, and taking time to look after yourself. Maintain a consistent schedule. Talk to your primary physician if you are having trouble sleeping or if there are questions about diet and exercise.
Taking Action, Getting Help
You notice one or two of these signs doesn’t mean you or your loved one is suffering from a mental illness. You can experience a loss of a job or loved one that causes a significant change in your mood and ability to function. Some of these symptoms can be caused by a physical illness, new medication, or dosage changes.
More than a decade ago, research has shown that early intervention can reduce or delay symptoms, prevent hospitalizations, and improve prognosis. These “red flag” symptoms early warning signs can be disruptive and frightening, even if the person is not showing any obvious signs of a diagnosable mental disorder.
Encourage the person:
- Get an evaluation from a mental health professional.
- Find out more about mental illness, including symptoms and signs.
- Get support regarding your daily life and stress management strategies.
- Monitor closely for conditions that require more intensive care.
Be aware that stigma can be a barrier to seeking treatment.
Every individual’s needs must be evaluated, and treatment should be tailored to them. To prevent early warning signs of mental illness from becoming serious, comprehensive treatment can include individual and family counseling, vocational, educational, and medication support.
Family members are valuable partners and should be included whenever possible. Understanding mental illness and the brain’s processes can help families and individuals understand the meaning of symptoms and how they might develop.
Contact Dr. Neha Mehta for more information.