How do you know if someone has a mental illness? If you have a loved one or a friend who doesn’t seem to be behaving the same as they used to, it might raise some flags. However, there is a difference between being in a bad mood and being depressed or having a mental health issue. There are many signs that someone is going through a rough patch and may need moral support or the support of a doctor. Learning these signs could change someone’s life for the better at minimal and save their life at best. Make sure to never diagnose someone when talking to them, but still know the warning signs.
Note that having one of the symptoms or signs of mental illness may not mean anything. However, a combination of the signs is the general marker that there is something that needs to be addressed.
Someone you love may have a mental health problem if…
…they seem depressed or unhappy.
This is the most obvious symptom or sign. Someone who doesn’t have interest or motivation in things that used to make them happy may have a mental illness. If he is in a bad mood that lasts for a few weeks, always seems on the verge of tears, and lacks in motivation to take care of himself, you should encourage him to reach out to a professional.
…they don’t seem to be sleeping.
As a general rule, we need seven to nine hours of sleep per night to function. If you notice that someone isn’t sleeping at all or has insomnia, this could be a sign of a deeper problem. A few nights here and there may not mean anything, but patterns do.
On the contrary, sleeping too much is another sign that something is wrong.
…they always seem anxious or worried.
Short of taking their pulse, this one is hard to see. But if someone seems to be pacing a lot, always has a headache, gets diarrhea frequently, or just always seems to be worried about something, it is a sign of a mental health issue. We all go through periods where we worry about something, but it doesn’t last forever.
…they are abusing a substance.
Have a friend that is always getting drunk and laughing a lot? Or know someone that is addicted to drugs? Often times, they are using those substances to cover up something else or to cope with their mental health issues.
…they have outbursts.
We all get mood swings, especially women around “that time of the month.” However, if it is uncommon for that to happen or the mood swings are too great to be considered ‘normal,’ then you may want to talk to that person about seeking help. This is especially true if the outbursts put that person or someone around them in danger.
…they seem quiet.
Sometimes people are just quiet. However, if someone who is usually talkative and lively suddenly becomes quiet all the time, there may be something there. Withdrawing themselves from friends and family is another sign that there is a mental health issue. Try to include that person in activities to see if something is up or just have a frank conversation.
…they’ve lost a lot of weight.
Someone who just “doesn’t have an appetite” may be suffering mentally. Rapid weight loss is a sign of depression as well as of an eating disorder. On the other hand, gaining weight quickly can be a sign of the same thing.
Most of us want to lose some weight, but pay attention.
…they feel guilty all the time.
If someone keeps apologizing or things or taking the blame when they really don’t have to, it is a possible sign of a mental health issue. If someone keeps criticizing himself, that is another sign. Make sure to watch this person and to offer encouragement. Let them know that you don’t feel that way about them. If severe enough, these feelings of worthlessness can lead to suicide.
When someone starts to have trouble with their mental health, the changes can be subtle. In some cases, they were always there below the surface. Make sure to be there for that person and to watch over them. If need be, guide that person to professionals who can help them to cope and feel better about themselves. No one will get mad at you for caring too much.