Despite being discussed more openly now, there are still many misconceptions when it comes to mental health issues. To further compound the issue, there are many different types of mental and behavioral disorders, and they can affect people in different ways. So it might not be surprising to learn that the majority of people will fit the diagnosis for some mental illness at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, many mental health issues go unrecognized and undiagnosed because they creep up on us without our noticing. But mental illnesses can be just as damaging and harmful as physical illnesses, so it’s important to pay attention and take early signs seriously. Watch for these seven red flags in yourself and your loved ones so you know when it is time to speak up and get help.
1. Changes in Thought Patterns
It’s not uncommon to change perspectives and think differently in various stages of life, but taking on thought patterns that are increasingly negative, paranoid, or destructive could be a sign of a bigger issue. If you have noticed that you tend to feel more nervous, isolated, or apathetic, this could point to a mental disorder such as depression or even schizophrenia.
2. Low Motivation or Loss of Energy
When it comes to issues like depression and bipolar disorder, many people make the assumption that affected individuals do not care about their obligations, but the reality tends to be that they feel like they have no energy to complete even the most basic chores. This can also manifest difficulties paying attention or staying engaged in activities, and it may often be disregarded as simply feeling tired.
3. Mood Swings
Rapid changes in mood are concerning, especially when it feels like they cannot be controlled, or these mood changes result in an outburst of destructive behavior. Unfortunately, mood swings are a common side effect of many mental illnesses, and they can have a heavy impact on relationships if the affected individual is often lashing out at friends and family members.
4. Sleep Changes
Changes in your sleep may range from not sleeping at all to sleeping for extended periods of time and feeling that you can never seem to get enough rest. When it comes to unhealthy sleeping patterns, there are many potential causes outside of mental health issues, but mental and behavioral disorders shouldn’t be ruled out—especially if you have a family history of them.
5. New Eating Habits
In a culture where diets and eating trends are commonplace, it’s easy to overlook unhealthy eating habits, such as severely restricted diets or obsessive exercise to purge following large meals. And it’s not just in those with eating disorders that dietary habits may change. Depression can have an effect on your appetite—either with overeating or a complete loss of appetite—and other mental disorders may have an effect as you try to retain a sense of control over your habits and behaviors.
6. Obsessive Behaviors
Obsessive behaviors may be physical, such as needing to park in the same spot at the grocery store or mandating a certain routine before leaving each room of the house. They can also be more internal, such as a fixation on an illogical association between events or a paranoid obsession with the government or other large organizations. Obsessions can not only occupy tons of mental energy, but they may cause severe emotional reactions when disturbed or challenged.
7. Disconnectedness from Surroundings
In some cases, mental health issues can cause surreal feelings of being disconnected from reality. Some individuals describe sensations of watching themselves interact with others or feeling like there is a lack of realness in their surroundings.
Of course, each of these symptoms alone cannot lead to a definitive diagnosis of any given mental health problem. Typically, several symptoms will co-occur in a repeated pattern, which can worsen over time. You also should not rule out mental illness just because you have not had a history with it. Many mental health issues do not show symptoms until early adulthood, and some may be triggered by events much later in life, and the signs do not tend to appear suddenly and all at once.
It can be difficult to reach out for mental healthcare, but MeMD is making care more accessible with online behavioral health sessions. We will pair you with a licensed, qualified mental health professional for counseling sessions that you can have from anywhere, including the comfort and privacy of home.