Prioritize Mental Health

Mental health is defined by your emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing, and it affects the way that you think, feel, and act. The way we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices are all determined by the state of our mental health. The line between mental health and mental illness is sometimes hard to define, so it can be tough to know when you should be concerned about any problems you are having with your mental health.

Early Warning Signs of Mental Illness

If you are unsure whether you are living with mental health problems, paying attention to differences in your feelings or behaviors might be helpful. If you are experiencing one or more of the following symptoms, it might be an early warning sign that there is an underlying problem:

  • Having little or no energy
  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  • Inability to perform simple daily tasks, such as getting to work or school or taking care of your children
  • Hearing voices
  • Delusional thinking
  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
  • Thinking about harming yourself or others
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Pulling away from your normal activities and people around you
  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matter
  • Having persistent thoughts or memories you can’t get out of your head

The actual signs and symptoms of specific mental illnesses can vary depending on the disorder, as well as your personal circumstances. Additionally, sometimes the symptoms of a mental disorder can manifest as physical problems, such as stomach pain, back pain, and headaches.

Risk Factors of Mental Illness

There are certain factors that increase your risk for developing mental health disorders. These include:

  • Having blood relatives, such as parents or siblings, with mental illness
  • Dealing with a chronic medical condition
  • Suffering from mental illness in the past
  • Going through stressful life situations, such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or financial problems
  • Suffering brain damage from a traumatic brain injury
  • Being abused or neglected as a child
  • Having few friends or healthy relationships
  • Excessively using alcohol or recreational drugs
  • Traumatic experiences such as military combat

When to Call the Doctor

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with mental illness, especially if you are at an increased risk for mental illness, make an appointment with your primary care provider or a mental health specialist. Mental illnesses will not improve without treatment, and untreated mental illnesses will only get worse over time, leading to more serious problems.

Suicidal thoughts are also a common symptom of many mental illnesses. If you think you might try to hurt yourself, seek help immediately via suicide hotlines such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.


Featured Image Source: DepositPhotos © michaeljung