Mental Health Awareness: Symptoms of Mental Illness

Today I just want to review what mental illness is.  (From A Mental Health Overview published by   " A mental illness or disorder is a condition what affects a person's thoughts, emotions and behavior.  Mental disorders negatively impact a person's daily life including work, school and relationships."

"Mental disorders can be tricky to diagnose and we do not always understand what causes them. But once correctly diagnosed, a person with a mental disorder can learn to manage his or her symptoms with therapy, medication or a combination of both. "   It's similar to managing a physical disorder like diabetes or heart disease.  The challenge is recognizing that something is wrong and accepting that you can't fix it on your own.  There are many variations and severities of mental illness from mild symptoms that can wear you down and may gradually worsen, or a sudden onset of severe symptoms that require crisis management.

One of the most important lessons I learned while taking a Family to Family course with NAMI many years ago is, You're Not Alone  and It's Not Your Fault.

So, how do you know if it may be mental illness?  

From NAMI San Antonio:

"Each illness has its own symptoms, but common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
  • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don't exist in objective reality)
  • Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack of insight” or anosognosia
  • Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance"

"Mental health conditions can also begin to develop in young children. Because they’re still learning how to identify and talk about thoughts and emotions, their most obvious symptoms are behavioral. Symptoms in children may include the following:
  • Changes in school performance
  • Excessive worry or anxiety, for instance fighting to avoid bed or school
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Frequent nightmares
  • Frequent disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums"

Read more on NAMI's website.

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