Knowing how to spot the early signs of mental health-related issues can help reduce their severity. Mental health issues can include a wide range of different conditions, which include but are not limited to:
- Eating disorders
- Addictive behaviours
Identifying these can, in some instances, delay or prevent a larger mental health illness completely. How do you identify them? Let’s take a look.
- Identifying the early signs of mental health problems in older children and teens
Attention must be paid to any sudden changes in behaviours and thoughts, and this is especially true where older children and teenagers are concerned. Sudden outbursts or inconsistencies in behaviours can indicate deeper issues.
For older children and teenagers, early signs of mental health-related issues can include the following:
- Prolonged depression – signs of which can be sadness and or irritability
- Extreme highs and lows, emotionally
- Confused thinking
- Withdrawing socially
- Physical ailments that are frequent and unexplainable
- Growing inability to cope with daily issues and activities
- Potentially suicidal thoughts
Adults, at times, can rationalise and compare these behaviours to their own experiences when they were of a similar age. This is potentially damaging as today’s societal norms (the ones today’s young people are trying to navigate) are not the ones that we grew up with and through.
- Identifying early signs of mental health problems in adults
Of course, early indicators of mental health issues can and do vary, depending on the individual, the disorder and several other environmental factors. That being said, there are things that you can watch out for, and some may overlap with those of younger age groups too.
Possible early signs for adults include:
- Reduced ability to concentrate
- Inexplicable feelings of sadness
- Excessive fears, worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
- Dramatic highs and lows
- A withdrawal from friends and family, even when they reach out
- Significant feelings of over-tiredness, low or excessively reduced energy, or problems sleeping (often mistaken as insomnia)
- Drastic changes in eating habits
- Delusional behaviour (a detachment from reality), paranoia, or hallucinations
- Changes in sex drive
- An inability to cope with everyday issues and stresses
- A trouble with understanding, or relating to, situations and other people
- Drug and or alcohol abuse
- Excessive anger, hostility, or even violence
A lot of the time, it is not just(?!) one sign on its own, but a showing of several of these signs and indicators that there may be mental health issues present in an individual. These indicators and signs can also sometimes manifest themselves as physical symptoms.
Ways that signs can present themselves in a physical way include headaches, back pain, stomach ache and pains and aches in other parts of the body too.
Regardless of age group, identifying these signs as early as possible is obviously preferred. It is also worth noting that these things will happen to the majority of us at some point, and it is nothing to be embarrassed about. Talking goes a long way.