What Are the Warning Signs of Mental Illness?  

Mental illness refers to a broad range of conditions that affect a person's thinking, emotions, behavior, or mood. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia are all examples of mental illness.

Mental illness is exceptionally common, even though many people feel alone with their struggles. Not to mention, the social stigma associated with treatment can get in the way of seeking treatment. Additionally, the warning signs of mental illness are not always blatantly obvious because they can manifest in so many unique ways.

These conditions can disrupt daily functioning and impair an individual's ability to cope with life's challenges. Therefore, early intervention is key, and creating a support network for those with symptoms is vital. Take a look at the warning signs of mental illness below.

Behavioral Changes and Signs Associated with Mental Illness

Changes in Mood and Emotions

Mental illness can drastically alter mood and emotions, which can also mean profound shifts in temperament and behavior. You may experience a spectrum of deviations from your usual moods and emotions. And the symptoms may look different depending on the disorder.

For instance, depression may cause persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness. Bipolar disorder can result in extreme mood swings from manic euphoria to depressive lows. Anxiety disorders may induce constant worry and fear, affecting overall emotional stability.

Unusual Behaviors or Actions

Unexplained or risky behaviors, such as excessive substance use, reckless driving, or sudden mood swings, can be signs of mental health illness. You may recognize signs like making questionable choices, experiencing emotional outbursts, or even contemplating self-harm. These behaviors may indicate an attempt to cope with distress or a manifestation of underlying psychological distress.

Abnormal Thought Patterns

Abnormal thought patterns, such as delusions or paranoia, are common indicators of mental illness. These patterns often involve distorted perceptions of reality or irrational beliefs that persist despite evidence to the contrary. Such thoughts can impair daily functioning and may stem from psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder.

Disturbed Sleep Patterns

Disruptions in sleep, such as insomnia or oversleeping, are closely linked to mental illness. According to research, up to 80 percent of individuals with mental illness experience difficulties with sleep. These disturbances often exacerbate symptoms and contribute to the development or worsening of mental health conditions.

Physical and Cognitive Signs of Mental Illness

Physical Symptoms Associated with Mental Illness

A mind in distress can manifest in physical ways. Further, certain neurochemical issues associated with mental illness can have physical presentations. Individuals may experience a number of physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomach and digestion problems, muscle tension, or other unexplainable symptoms.

Cognitive Changes and Difficulties

Mental illness can wholly alter cognitive processes, which means individuals with mental illness can face various cognitive changes. For example, you may experience memory issues, delays with decision-making, or impaired concentration.

Impact on Daily Functioning

It is not uncommon for individuals with a mental health disorder to begin to struggle at work, school, or managing everyday responsibilities. You may find it difficult to complete basic tasks, such as grooming, cleaning, or even preparing meals. In severe situations, mental illness can get in the way of things like parenting responsibilities or taking care of pets or others.

Social and Interpersonal Warning Signs of Mental Illness

Withdrawal from Social Activities and Relationships

Isolation and loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities are some of the most telling warning signs of mental illness. These changes may happen suddenly, but they may also come on gradually. A good example is if an individual gradually begins turning down social invitations, spending less time with family, or going to work.

Changes in Social Behavior and Communication

In addition, you may notice changes in social behaviors or how you communicate with others. For example, someone struggling with social anxiety may be more irritable with peers or coworkers, avoid eye contact, or remain withdrawn during conversations.

Difficulty Maintaining Relationships

Individuals with mental illness are more prone to experiencing strained personal relationships. You may find yourself getting into more arguments with your loved ones or your partner or dealing with lost friendships due to changes in behavior.

Unusual Responses to Social Situations

Overreactions or extreme sensitivity to social interactions, even those that may seem normal to others, are a sign of mental illness. For example, you may get angry or emotional during general interactions with others.

Seeking Professional Help for Mental Illness

Consulting a mental health professional is paramount for addressing mental health concerns effectively and reclaiming your life. These experts provide personalized evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment plans tailored to individual needs. Mental health can take a toll on your life and health in so many ways, so seeking treatment when you notice signs is important.

Recognizing when to seek help allows for early intervention and can prevent conditions from worsening. Mental illnesses are some of the most underdiagnosed conditions in the country, as many people do not seek treatment when they need it.

It is also important to recognize the importance of being open about your symptoms. Open discussions about mental health promote understanding and reduce stigma, which encourages more people to seek support when needed.

Even if you don't seek formal treatment, resources like helplines and support groups can create a supportive environment. The Well Being Trust offers an extensive list of resources that may be valuable if you struggle with mental illness. Additionally, look for community-based services, such as local support groups and meetings for those struggling with emotional health.

Find the Treatment You Need to Reclaim Your Life at Pathways

Recognizing warning signs of mental illness is crucial for early intervention and effective treatment. However, warning signs are often overlooked, and some individuals don't have much-needed support to feel comfortable seeking treatment. Therefore, promoting destigmatization and easy access to resources is vital for struggling people.

With any mental illness, early intervention is the key to reducing the detrimental impact symptoms can have on your life. If you or someone you love has signs of mental illness, reach out to Pathways to find out how we can help.

Pathways Logo - Drug Rehab and Addiction Center in Utah  - Pathways Real Life Recovery

Pathways is proud to be accredited
by The Joint Commission, which
independently certifies only the
best treatment programs, healthcare
organizations, and hospitals across the country!

Joint Commission logo - Pathways Real Life Recovery


Complete This Contact Form
or Call (801) 895-3006
To Schedule a Free Assessment

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Pathways Real Life Recovery
230 W Towne Ridge Pkwy 
Suite 150
Sandy, UT 84070
Phone: (801) 895-3006
Fax: 801-277-7593

Copyright 2024 Pathways Real Life © All Rights Reserved