signs and symptoms of mental illness

Signs and Symptoms of Mental Illness

Mental illness is defined as changes that affect a person’s thinking, mood, or behavior, and that causes them distress or pain. Mental illness manifests itself by:

  • Signs of change, which those around you may observe in the behavior of the affected person.
  • Symptoms, which the person feels.

For example, relatives of someone with the disease may notice that they are isolating themselves. The affected person, on the other hand, may have difficulty concentrating, or feel sad or anxious.

The healthcare professional or doctor considers all of the signs and symptoms to assess the person’s condition and make a diagnosis.

Signs and symptoms

The signs and symptoms of mental illness can be more or less intense. Their intensity varies according to:

  • The type of mental illness.
  • The personality of the affected person.
  • The ties and relationships of the person with his family and his entourage.
  • Social and economic factors (living environment, financial capacities, etc.).

Here are some signs of behavior change that shows the presence of mental illness.

1. Energy loss.

Mental illness usually results in a loss of vitality associated with severe fatigue and a lack of energy. It is, therefore, difficult to perform trivial actions on a daily basis. This state has a name: the “impossible task”. We talk about it when the patient no longer feels able to perform tasks that, until then, were done naturally without thinking about it: going to buy bread, make his bed, take care of administrative or household tasks.

A sudden impossibility generally misunderstood by those close to someone with the syndrome. As mundane as these “impossible tasks” are, you shouldn’t hesitate to tell your loved ones about them and get help.

2. Sleep disorders.

For some people, sleeping becomes a refuge. However, this excess is not beneficial: People with mental illness are still just as tired, even with 10 hours of sleep under their belt. For others, the nights are short: bed late, waking up at night or early in the morning, around 4 or 5 a.m. Sleep is shallower, and waking up can be psychologically painful.

3. Sexuality disorders.

Most of the time, in times of depression, sexuality is neglected because the body and the head, engines in this area, are disturbed. A mentally ill person no longer takes pleasure in making love with their partner and generally loses the desire to do so.

4. A decline in the aptitude to concentrate or think.

People with any mental illness may have difficulty thinking and expressing themselves clearly. In a conversation, words are hard to find, and sentences lack fluidity. They feel like they are empty-headed or that the world has become too complicated for them. Memory and concentration also tend to decrease. People who have mental illness have a more challenging time fixing their attention, remembering what they have just read or heard, and not being distracted.

5. Eating disorders.

In mental illnesses, appetite is often disturbed. It is either increased or decreased. These people can take refuge in food (most often sweet) to create the refuge. The pleasure of eating can also abandon them. Or they will abandon everything related to food. In the latter case, the food seems tasteless, and the preparation of dishes becomes a chore. Mealtimes often become irregular, and their composition unbalanced. Weight gain or loss can indicate depression. But eating disorders can also turn into mental illness.

6. Sadness and hypersensitivity.

For no apparent reason, they can experience an overwhelming and unusual feeling of sadness. Soon the subject no longer finds any meaning or interest in life. The small pleasures (reading a book, going for a walk, seeing friends) which were present in his life are no longer.

Sadness can lead to hypersensitivity to everyday situations. The slightest difficulty or annoyance becomes insurmountable. Sensitivity is often associated with a feeling of emotional emptiness or irritability. Every confrontation or obstacle in daily life can make the ill person very easily and significantly upset.

7. From guilt to dark thoughts.

Low self-assurance is very common in people with mental illness. They feel responsible for their condition and feel guilty for not being able to cope on their own. Defeatism emerges, then spreads throughout life. Often, people with depression don’t even imagine living the other way, let alone seeing the end of their ordeal. For this reason, they do not seek outside help and feel that no one can influence their situation.

8. Substance abuse.

If someone starts consuming drugs or alcohol excessively all of a sudden, then it might be another sign of mental illness. 

9. Quiet or withdrawn.

We all sometimes wish for a quiet time. But if someone totally withdraws from life, then that can be a sign of a mental health issue. If a loved one or an acquaintance is continuously isolating, then they might be suffering from depression, psychotic or bipolar disorder or any other mental health issue. If they keep on refusing to be a part of social gatherings, then it might be an indication that they need help.

Most common mental illnesses.

The most common mental illnesses are:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Phobia
  • Generalized anxiety
  • Panic disorder and agoraphobia
  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Mood disorders
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)


There are recognized treatments to treat mental illness or relieve their symptoms. Treatments allow people with the disease to regain control over their lives and daily activities. The earlier the sufferer consults, the better their chances of recovery.

In the majority of cases, mental illness is treated very effectively with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of these two treatments.

Recognize the signs of mental illness and act on it.

You have noticed that something is wrong, but you are uncomfortable talking about it or you don’t know how to approach it. Remember that early intervention will speed up the recovery process.

Having the support of a loved one, friend or colleague can make all the difference in preventing or recovering from mental illness. So do not hesitate to confide in, if you are experiencing difficulties. 

It is not easy to tell whether someone’s behavior is the result of an emotionally difficult time or a warning sign of mental illness. It is normal to experience feelings of isolation, sadness, loneliness or distress for a short time. They help us cope with life and overcome the most traumatic experiences that life brings to us. However, if these emotions don’t change over time and start to interfere with your daily tasks and well-being, they could be signs of mental illness.

When to consult?

Do not wait until you have become unable to do your usual activities to consult resources for help or information. Have the freedom to do so, even if you are not sure you need it. Unfortunately, many people wait until they are in an emergency before seeking help. Here are some clues that may indicate you should consult:

  • Your symptoms have been going on for a while.
  • Your anxiety attacks are repeated.
  • You are in distress.
  • You feel that the comfort of those close to you is no longer enough for you.
  • You start to have difficulty with your daily activities.
  • People around you see that you need help and tell you.

Remember that physical symptoms often accompany psychological distress. These symptoms often have the effect of reducing the ability to adapt to everyday situations. Pay attention to these indications and do not hesitate to seek help. 

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