Children may begin to show signs due to various reasons―genetics, death of a loved one such as a parent or sibling, parents’ divorce, etc. These conditions may slowly lead to the following symptoms of a mental health condition:
- The first sign that most children begin to show is a consistent decline in their performance at school. Low grades, lack of participation in various activities, and a general withdrawal from classmates, are all part of these symptoms.
- Sometimes, children may experience separation anxiety, where they refuse to separate from their parents, refuse to go to school, or any other place without them.
- While social withdrawal (including from family) may be portrayed by some children, other children may be hyperactive and have a short attention span. They may easily get distracted, and may fail to hold their attention to a particular task or activity at hand.
- Throwing tantrums and showing aggression, are common signs in children. Their aggression may go to the point of harming those around them, without any guilt (even if it is a parent).
- Due to their altered state of mind, children who suffer from mental illness tend to face extreme nightmares and sleep disturbances.
- Purposeful disobedience is another characteristic symptom of children who may have distressed mental health. No matter how much you ask them to behave, and even if you ground them, they may not show any signs of improvement.
The factors that are causes for different types of mental illnesses in younger children are also applicable to adolescents. Here, however, peer pressure and the general competitiveness in school may also be responsible for their altered behavior and mental health, which may be identified by means of the following signs:
- A lot of teenagers take recourse to cigarettes, alcohol and drugs to deal with their altered state of mind.
- Teenagers often tend to suffer from prolonged depression, and social withdrawal is also a symptom that indicates they may have some kind of mental illness.
- Sometimes, this prolonged negative state of mind may even have them consider suicide as a way out of their problems.
- Their anger and aggression may be released in the form of adopting practices that are considered anti-social or bad in society, such as vandalism, a blatant refusal to abide by the law, theft and robbery, and a lack of attendance at school (though they may leave the house on the pretext of going to school).
- They try to avoid dealing with problems, even the most minor ones, and trying to cope with these problems causes them a lot of stress.
- Teenagers with a problem may have either a large appetite as they seek the comfort of food when stressed, or may have an extremely poor appetite due to the fear of gaining weight. This also manifests into other disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Their sleeping patterns are also affected by these symptoms.
- They may tend to complain of physical conditions more often than not.
- Extreme rage is a sign even in teenagers.
The signs in adults may indicate two extremes of the graph. Nonetheless, these are definite indicators of a condition of distressed mental health. Also, an important point to be noted is that the signs in men may not be as prominent as those in women. For instance, in a condition like severe depression, men are less likely to acknowledge that they can suffer from it because of the image of strength and masculinity is what they have been brought up with. Nonetheless, in severe disorders there may be no difference in the symptoms exhibited by men and women.
- In some cases, the mental illnesses adults suffer from may be masked under a charming and elegant facade. They may behave normally in social situations, but privately may go to the point of physically hurting those around them. For instance, a man may be a charmer when it comes to impressing a woman, but after marriage, may subject his wife to extreme physical and emotional abuse. This will never have anyone believe that such a person can be capable of portraying such violent behavior. However, this may be a clear sign of a problem.
- Adults with mental illness face difficulties remaining in one job for long periods, and tend to change jobs very frequently. They have a difficulty getting along with their colleagues and seniors. Not much can be said about their performance at work.
- Some adults may experience both delusions and hallucinations, wherein they may hear voices, imagine that they belong to important positions, and may be able to see, smell and hear things that may actually not exist for real. An opposite of the delusion of importance may be extremely low self-esteem, where they may not consider themselves worthy enough of any person or profession.
- Extreme anxiety, fear, depression, and worry about even minor problems may plague those adults suffering from the condition.
- In some cases adults may feel worn out all the time, and in others, they may experience extreme highs and an outburst of energy to perform even the most basic activity.
- Some adults with mental illnesses refuse to believe that a particular problem exists, and may live in constant denial of this problem. This may stem out of their inability to face their problems and they may therefore, find solace in denial. Any kind of domestic or professional situation may cause this problem.
- Due to their state of mind, they may also complain of physical ailments. In most cases, there may be no biological explanation for their pains and aches, as they are mostly psychological.
- Their appetite, sleeping habits, and concerns about their health and hygiene are dramatically altered.
- Finally, suicidal thoughts are also common in adults, and some of those with mental illnesses may even commit suicide as a means of escape from their problems.
If you notice a substantial group of these signs in your little and loved ones, ensure that you seek psychiatric help at the earliest. The sooner the problem is detected, the easier it is to treat it. Along with psychiatric treatment, giving the individual your love and support is essential to help treat the problem. Psychiatric help can take a person only so far. The love and support of friends and family is what goes a long way in helping those with any condition.