Common Warning Signs of Mental Illness

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As we’ve written about recently, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In furtherance of our efforts as an Orange County mental illness treatment center, SoCal Empowered is going to continue to put forth information that may help someone, somewhere get the treatment they need so that he, she or they can get back on their feet and back to enjoying life the way we all deserve to do so.

While we provided an overview during our last discussion, below we’re going to provide some common warning signs of mental illness that, if you notice them in yourself or someone else should prompt you to seek some additional help and/or input. Obviously, given the wide array of mental illnesses that exist, there is no way to put together an exhaustive list. However, we hope that if you do recognize signs of mental illness that you act quickly, as the earlier something is done the better.

How Young Is Too Young?

Generally speaking, there is no age when a person is either too young or too old to develop a mental illness. However, there are statistical trends that exist that could provide you with some perspective if you’re wondering about yourself or someone you care about. According to, approximately half of all mental illnesses start by age 14 and approximately 75 percent start by the age of 24.

That said, you should not take this to mean that there is no such thing as mental illness in children or older adults. Signs of mental illness can begin to show well before and well after these ages even though statistics indicate that these problems tend to arise while people are younger.

Outward Warning Signs of Mental Illness

If you’re concerned about seeing signs of mental illness in someone else, odds are you’re going to notice something outward or overt. That’s because you can’t see someone else’s thoughts and you can’t be sure that someone is either able to tell you what they’re thinking or willing to do so in the first place.

Therefore, if you see the following either in an intense fashion and/or over an extended period of time, it should prompt concern:

  1. Changes in Appetite – One of the more common signs of mental illness occurs when someone experiences a radical change in appetite. This can manifest itself either by way of starting to overeat or through a loss of appetite. The resulting weight gain or loss will typically follow, but if you’re around someone regularly and he or she engages in strange eating behaviors, start paying attention.
  2. Changes in Sleep Patterns – Generally speaking, people tend to fall into habits and norms when it comes to sleep. Therefore, if you or someone you love exhibits behavioral changes in this regard, that is also something that should potentially raise concern levels. Once again, we’re not referring to a few nights of sleeping differently, but instead to longer periods of time.

Inward Warning Signs of Mental Illness

Other warning signs of mental illness are more internal in nature, which means that they will be more difficult to identify in someone else. However, if you do notice any of these changes either in someone else or in yourself, it may be time to seek some help.

  1. Basic Personality Changes – Over the years, you likely get to know someone who tends to be upbeat, mellow, positive, somewhat pessimistic or what have you, but what we’re really talking about here are the characteristics of someone’s personality. You’ll know big personality changes when you see them. For instance, if someone has been happy-go-lucky for years and suddenly becomes moody and dark, that could indicate the presence of a problem.
  2. Withdrawal from Everyday Life – Finally, another of the most common signs of mental illness occurs when someone simply starts and continues to withdraw from everyday activities or things that he or she used to enjoy. A person going through something like this will usually withdraw from more than one thing, and often such a person will basically withdraw from everything.

Trust Your Instincts

Unfortunately, the warning signs of mental illness do not consist of symptoms that anyone could spot as you would if someone suffers a broken arm or bruised ribs. That’s why mental illness is in many ways a silent disease, and that’s also one of the reasons that it’s so incredibly dangerous. People can suffer from mental illness for years without anyone realizing what’s happening until an enormous amount of damage has been done.

Therefore, if you suspect something is wrong with someone you love or with yourself, trust those instincts and investigate the matter further. Ask questions and don’t simply dismiss the situation as a “bad day” or a “tough recent run” that’ll resolve itself soon enough. You need to act, and you need to do so as soon as you notice a problem. As is the case with any medical problem, the earlier you intervene, the better the chances for recovery tend to be.

How SoCal Empowered Can Help

If you know you need to do something after noticing signs of mental illness in someone but you’re not sure what to do, you can always contact our team of at any time. We provide Orange County mental health treatment for all types of challenges, and the first thing that we do with everyone is discuss the situation in detail.

If we hear things that warrant further investigation and action, we’ll tell you so, but as soon as we do, we’ll also speak directly to your insurance company so that you’re completely aware of how your coverage applies before you make any commitments. Therefore, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain when you speak to us. Contact us today so we can take that all-important first step towards figuring out what’s wrong and then putting a plan together to help you.

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