A mental illness is a health condition involving changes in emotion, thinking, or behavior (or a combination of these). Mental illness is associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.
Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a medical problem, just like heart disease or diabetes.
If you wait until the symptoms are severe, it will be more difficult to address your mental health condition, which is why it is critical to pay attention to the warning signals.
The following are some mental illness warning signals to look out for, as detecting them early can help one deal with the problem more effectively.
Rapid mood changes and suicidal thinking
According to specialists at the American Psychiatric Association, it's normal to feel furious, sad, or emotional depending on our circumstances, but excessively dramatic emotional outbursts like anger or crying frequently indicate depression or another mental disease.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States, one of the hallmark indications of depression is a loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities. Suicidal thoughts, according to psychologists, are a major symptom of mental illness.
Living with guilt
Dr Bola Adesiyan, a psychiatrist based in Lagos, said that being too critical of oneself and blaming oneself for past mistakes could be indicators of mental illness.
"If the person does not seek professional help, these thoughts might lead to depression over time," she warned. It's important to stop blaming oneself for the past, whether it's a broken relationship or marriage, a job loss, or something else. It has the potential to cause depression."
Paranoia and delusions
According to Mental Health America, a non-profit organization in Virginia, paranoia encompasses intense nervous or scared sensations and thoughts, frequently associated with persecution, threat, or conspiracy.
Paranoia can progress to delusions, a condition in which irrational thoughts and beliefs become so ingrained in a person's mind that no amount of evidence, including contradictory information, can persuade them that what they believe or feel is false.
A delusional disorder occurs when a person has paranoia or delusions but no other symptoms (such as hearing or seeing things that aren't there). A person with a delusional disorder can usually work and function in ordinary life because only their thoughts are affected. Their lifestyles, however, may be restricted and lonely.
Mrs. Fausat Bello, an Abuja-based psychiatrist, said that dramatic appetite changes or a decline in personal care are also signs of mental illness.
Jayne Leonard, a psychotherapist and counsellor, also stated that eating too much or too little can indicate depression.
Some people seek solace in food, while others lose their appetite or eat less as a result of a bad mood.
"These changes in eating habits might cause a person to gain or lose weight." "Drastically changing one's weight can cause depression by affecting one's self-esteem," Leonard wrote in Medical News Today.
Excessive fears or worries
Excessive fears, as well as feeling tense and worried for an extended period of time, are signs of mental illness. Yes, everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, but if one's worries and fears are so frequent that they interfere with one's ability to function and relax, one may suffer from generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD.
GAD is a prevalent anxiety disorder characterized by persistent worry, uneasiness, and tension. Unlike a phobia, which is associated with a specific object or situation, GAD anxiety is diffused and characterized by a general sense of dread or unease that pervades one's entire existence.
This anxiety is less acute than a panic attack, but it lasts considerably longer, making it difficult to function normally and relaxing impossible. GAD drains you both mentally and physically. It depletes one's energy, disrupts sleep, and exhausts one's body.
Changes in sleep habits
Mood and sleep have a close connection. Sleep deprivation can contribute to sadness, while depression can make sleeping more difficult.
In addition, a study published in the Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal by Mohammed Al-Abri revealed that sleeping too much could be an indication of depression.
Less optimistic than others
According to Leonard of Medical News Today, there is a belief that people with depression have a quality known as "depressive realism," which implies they are "more accurate" in their assessments of events and their power over them than people without depression.
"People with depression may also be more pessimistic," she noted. According to studies, those with major depressive disorder have a more pessimistic outlook on the future.
"Being more realistic or pessimistic than others could be an indicator of sadness, especially if the person is experiencing other depressive symptoms."
Loss of concentration
When a person wanders off during a conversation or loses their train of thought, it could be a sign of memory and attention problems, which are common depression symptoms.
The Impact of Individual Depressive Symptoms on Impairment of Psychosocial Functioning, "a 2014 study by Eiko Fried and Randolph Nesse published in the Plus One Journal, suggested that difficulties with concentration and focus could worsen the social impact of depression by making work life and personal relationships more difficult.
What to do if you notice any of the signs
People who suspect they may be suffering from a hidden mental disease should consult a doctor or a mental health expert.
Also, if a loved one appears to be suffering from depression, consider talking to them about their symptoms and offering non judgmental support and guidance. Encourage them to seek treatment, offer to accompany them to appointments, organize pleasurable activities with them, exercise with them, and encourage them to socialize with others.
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