Our mental and emotional well-being is essential for leading a satisfying and healthy life. However, mental illness can often creep into our lives to make us feel anxious, stressed, and even depressed. But our mind and body often give us subtle warning signs of mental illness that we should never ignore.
Mental illness can affect anyone
Did you know that around 44 million U.S. citizens suffer from some mental illness every year? Most of us believe that mental disorders are rare. We tend to think that it always happens to others. But the truth is, mental health conditions are far more common than we believe. Moreover, it can affect people of all ages and all walks of life. It can not only make us anxious and withdrawn but also affect our ability to function normally in our daily lives.
Although we may not know what actually causes such mental illness, we can learn to identify the signs and recognize them during the early stages. This can help us to overcome these mental conditions and live a happier, more confident life.
Related: What is Mental Health And Illness?
12 Mental illness signs to look out for
It’s true that most of us feel stressed and anxious every now and then. And the fact is, some level of anxiety can actually be healthy for us. However, when such negative feelings persist for over 2 weeks and start to affect our thinking, emotions, behavior, mood, and daily life, then it may be a cause for concern, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
So if you are going through a rough patch or experiencing certain mental health symptoms, then here are a few warning signs of mental illness that you must watch out for to identify and underlying conditions early:
1. Extreme mood swings
If you are experiencing intense mood swings more frequently, then it might be a signal for a more serious psychiatric issue. According to the American Psychiatric Association, “Rapid or dramatic shifts in emotions or depressed feelings,” can be a sign of mental illness.
Although most of us feel a range of emotions depending on experiences and situations, random, unreasonable, and dramatic shifts in mood and emotional outbursts usually point towards depression and other mental disorders. Angry outbursts over seemingly insignificant things, crying profusely without any particular reason, excessive euphoria, and depressed feelings are things that you need to take seriously.
2. Feeling worried and anxious
With our busy and stressful lives, it’s normal for us to experience some level of anxiety. In fact, some stress and anxiety can actually be good for us. Professional counselor Dr. Katharina Star, Ph.D. explains “Scientists have learned that some degree of stress or anxiety isn’t necessarily a bad thing.” Good stress or eustress “keeps us motivated and excited about life,” she adds.
However when stress, anxiety, and nervousness start to affect your physical health and your ability to function normally in daily life, then it can be a sign of mental illness.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the inability to control your worries may point towards the development of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Anxiety can lead to other symptoms like restlessness, insomnia, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, racing thoughts, headaches, agitation & irritation, diarrhea, etc. You should seek professional help if you experience anxiety and related symptoms for over 6 months on a daily basis.
3. Experiencing chronic sadness
If you feel constant sadness, unhappy, teary, and empty inside for over two weeks, then it may mean that you are experiencing depression. Sadness is a normal part of the human experience. However, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), when you experience chronic sadness and loss of motivation for at least 2 weeks, then it can be diagnosed as depression.
You may experience depression even though you may have a great life, a successful career, healthy relationships, and a perfect social life. Depression is a clinical condition that can affect anyone. So you need to take it seriously and consult a mental health professional.