Signs and symptoms of mental illness include
Knowing whether or not someone is struggling with mental illness is not that obvious. Sometimes we see a loved one going through a hard time, and mental illness is the last thing that comes to mind. If one does not receive a formal diagnosis, and you are unsure, its best to treat the subject with compassion and sensitivity. No two individuals show the same signs and symptoms. Symptoms of mental illness can affect things such as emotions, thoughts and behaviors.
Some of the signs and symptoms of mental illness include, but aren’t limited to the following:
- Feeling downhearted and depressed regularly
- Reduced ability to focus
- Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
- Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
- Social withdrawal from friends and family
- Significant tiredness, low energy or cycles of insomnia
- Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia or hallucinations
- Inability to cope with daily stress
- Emotional detachment
- Alcohol abuse or drug use
- Significant changes in eating habits
- Suicidal thinking
- Confused thinking
What to do / What not to do
The first best thing you can do is learn about the illness. Educating yourself is what will form the basis of the support you provide. If you’re unsure about how to begin, you can reach out to others who can offer guidance and refer resources that will help.
Which brings us to our next tip:
Just because you’re providing support, don’t think that you’re not allowed the same. Too often people make the mistake of not asking for help because they feel that they should shoulder the burden of support on their own, or feel shame thanks to the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Whatever the reasons may be, know that you’ll be more effective in your support when you allow others to help you.
That said, there are a few things to avoid when offering your support to someone dealing with mental illness. For starters, empathy begins with the suspension of self. This means that although you might feel it helps to relate their situation to your own personal experience, it actually doesn’t. Rather have them ask you, and in the meantime just listen. Also, try not to minimize their struggle by pointing out all the good things in their life. Mental illness doesn’t discriminate.
That means a big house, smart car, and successful career mean nothing in the bigger scheme of things. It especially doesn’t mean that people with all those things are exempt from mental health conditions.