Mental Illness Warning Signs and Symptoms

Many people at one time or another wonder if they have a mental illness, but would they actually meet the criteria under one of the more than 200 clinical mental health conditions that can be diagnosed? One person out of every four, or an estimate of 450 million people worldwide do have a mental health problem that would benefit from professional treatment.

Mental Illness Categories

There are generally five major categories for the hundreds of mental health conditions that one may be diagnosed with. These categories include mood disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia and psychotic disorders, and dementia.

Early Diagnosis and Treatment

Research data from clinical reports of those diagnosed with a mental illness show that three-quarters of all cases begin to show signs by the age of 24. Learning about early warning signs or symptoms and seeking a diagnosis and receiving early intervention can help to reduce the severity of an illness, possibly even delay or prevent a major mental illness episode.

Warning Signs and Symptoms

The following list may indicate the need to seek a professional mental health evaluation to determine if treatment for a mental illness is recommended. The warning signs and symptoms of mental illness include:

  • Change in the ability to function at school, work, in social situations
  • Finding it difficult to complete or perform familiar daily or routine tasks
  • Withdrawal from normal or typical social behaviors and interaction
  • Loss of interest or apathy at work, within the family, in social situations, for previous enjoyable activities or hobbies
  • Problems with concentration, memory, rational thought and speech; illogical thinking
  • Increased sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells, or touch, with avoidance of situations that are felt to be “over-stimulating”
  • Dramatic changes in sleep and/or eating patterns
  • Significant changes in personal care and appearance
  • Feeling disconnected from one’s self or with one’s surroundings
  • Paranoia, fear, suspicious of others, nervousness
  • Rapid or dramatic shifts in mood
  • Displaying odd, unusual, or peculiar behaviors
  • Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming others

Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental Illness

Recognizing small changes in thinking or behavior, or feeling that “something is not right” is a good time to make the call to a qualified psychiatrist for a comprehensive evaluation. Whether the reported symptoms be psychologically or medically based, a full assessment can successfully direct the course of treatment. Call Dr. Hege for a confidential appointment to discover why your concerns and difficulties are occurring.


About Darvin Hege

Dr. Darvin Hege, MD, PC, is based in Atlanta, Georgia, and certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and the American Society of Addiction Medicine. He is an Emory Hospital residency trained psychiatrist who has been practicing psychiatry for more than 25 years. He maintains over 50 hours of AMA certified education each year to stay informed of advances in psychiatry.

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