Warning Signs of Mental IllnessDylan Romero
It’s commonly known that mental illness and addiction are inextricably linked. These two brain disorders feed into one another and, when left untreated, can create a vicious cycle of substance abuse, sobriety, and relapse. Either of these issues can come first – certain drugs can catalyze symptoms of mental health problems, and those with mental illnesses can seek to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. In observance of Mental Health Month this May, we’re exploring the signs and symptoms of mental illness.
What is Mental Illness?
Just like substance use disorders, mental illnesses are conditions of the brain. They affect mood, thinking, and behavior. Almost everyone will experience mental health concerns from time to time. For example, many people experience traumatic events, such as the death of a loved one, that are extremely distressing. These concerns become illnesses when they are ongoing and affect one’s ability to function.
Examples of mental illnesses include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, eating disorders and other addictive behaviors. Luckily, there are many treatment options available for these diagnoses. Success is often found in a combination of talk therapy (psychotherapy) and medication, when needed.
While the symptoms of each of these disorders are wildly different, there are major signs that can be useful in identifying whether you or a loved one are suffering from mental illness. These can be behavioral or physical in nature. We’ve compiled a few into a list below. If any of these sound familiar, we encourage you to pursue treatment as soon as you’re able.
Common Symptoms of Mental Illness
- Feeling sad or down
- Confused thinking
- Difficulty concentrating or learning new things
- Extreme feelings of guilt or worry
- Mood swings – high highs and low lows
- Prolonged anger or irritability
- Isolating oneself – avoiding friends and social situations
- Issues relating to others
- Sleeping too much or not enough (hypersomnia, insomnia)
- Feeling fatigued or having no energy
- Increased hunger or loss of appetite
- Difficulty perceiving reality
- Detaching from reality
- Lack of insight into one’s own feelings or personality
- Substance abuse (alcohol or drugs)
- A collection of physical issues without obvious causes (headaches, stomach aches)
- Thoughts of suicide
- Intense concern with appearance, weight
- Inability to cope with daily stress, small problems
- Difficulty functioning (carrying out day-to-day tasks)
- Changes in work or school performance
- Excessive worrying or fear
When to Seek Help
When someone has been living with a mental illness, they may feel that this is how their lives will always be. In 56% of cases, they do not receive help at all. Just as it’s important to intervene when a friend or loved one is clearly struggling with substance use, it’s also vital to know when someone needs treatment for a mental health concern.
There are five key signs that professional help is required. If your loved one is exhibiting any of these, we highly suggest that you work with them to get the care they need.
- Drastic changes in personality. If someone seems to be behaving differently, or not feeling like themselves, this is a major warning sign that mental illness has begun to take over.
- Uncharacteristic anger, anxiety, or moodiness. Extreme changes in emotion, especially if they are ongoing, are cause for concern.
- Social isolation and withdrawal. If someone is canceling all their plans and making excuses to spend more and more time alone, it’s usually an indicator that their mental health is suffering. This is especially important to notice in those with substance use disorders, because isolation is a key contributor to addiction and relapse.
- Risky behaviors or lack of self-care. Mental health issues can cause someone to take unnecessary risks and stop taking care of themselves. This can range from a lack of hygiene to substance abuse.
- Feelings of hopelessness, being overwhelmed. Even the most successful people can fall victim to mental illness and lose all motivation. It’s easy for them to believe that they’ll always feel this way, and that day-to-day life is too overwhelming to handle.
Treating Addiction and Mental Illness
Concise Recovery specializes in the treatment of co-occurring disorders. Our services are especially helpful for those who are grappling with both substance use and a mental health diagnosis. By offering a wide variety of therapies – including CBT, DMT, and EMDR – we strive to address the root causes of mental illness and addiction. Call us today at 888-978-5424 to begin your dual diagnosis treatment.