Mental Health Disorder Warning Signs, Symptoms, & Side Effects

A mental health disorder can impact anyone.

Often referred to as mental illness, mental health disorders affect nearly one in five adults in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

These conditions can have wide-ranging effects on both the person experiencing the symptoms of a mental health disorder and other individuals in their life, causing widespread emotional, physical, psychological, and social damage.

But most mental health disorders are treatable. With the right level of personalized mental healthcare from experienced professionals, you can manage your symptoms and live a happier, more fulfilling life.

Signs of a Mental Health Disorder

It’s not always easy to distinguish the difference between typical behaviors and the signs that a person may be developing a mental health disorder. Each person’s unique experiences, along with the specific mental illness they’re showing signs of, mean that these indicators aren’t always universal.

Generally speaking, though, common signs that you may be struggling with a mental health disorder include:

  • Feeling excessively sad
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Prolonged feelings of anger or irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Excessive fear or worry
  • Trouble understanding or relating to others
  • Feeling particularly tired or other disruptions to sleep cycles
  • Avoiding social activities
  • General withdrawal from family or friends
  • Rapid weight gain or weight loss
  • Failure to meet day-to-day responsibilities

Symptoms of a Mental Health Disorder

The symptoms of a mental health disorder often mean that you’ve progressed past the point of showing warning signs. At this point, it’s critical that you receive proper professional care before these symptoms lead to seriously damaging consequences.

Symptoms can be both psychological and physical. It’s unlikely that a person will experience all these symptoms of a mental health disorder, but if you’re exhibiting any number of these at the same time, it may be time to seek professional intervention.

  • Stomach pain
  • Chronic headaches
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Delusions
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Major changes in eating habits
  • Reliance on substances such as drugs or alcohol
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Depersonalization (feeling detached from your thoughts, feelings, and body)

Common Causes & Risk Factors of a Mental Health Disorder

There is no single cause of mental illnesses. There are, however, a variety of environmental and genetic factors that can put you at risk for developing a mental health disorder, including:

  • Pre-birth exposure: Being exposed to alcohol, drugs, environmental stressors, or toxins in the womb
  • Brain chemistry: When the neural networks that carry signals to your brain and body are impaired, the function of nerve receptors and nerve systems can change
  • Family history: Mental health disorders are more common if you have a genetic predisposition

Similarly, there are certain factors that may increase your risk for developing a mental illness. Some of these are:

  • Stressful life situations, such as the loss of a loved one, a divorce, a breakup, a job loss, or financial struggles
  • Childhood history of abuse or neglect
  • Brain damage from a serious injury
  • Preexisting chronic medical conditions
  • Repeated exposure to traumatic events
  • Use of alcohol or recreational drugs
  • Lack of support system or healthy relationships

Mental Health Statistics

As referenced earlier, mental health disorders are relatively common in the United States, affecting nearly 20% of adults. Some other statistics about mental illness in America include:

  • Just 43.3% of U.S. adults who had a mental illness received professional care in 2018, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
  • Young adults ages 18-25 have the highest prevalence of mental health disorders at 25.8%, according to the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH).
  • Also according to NAMI, 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24.
  • NAMI reports that the average delay between the onset of symptoms of a mental health disorder and receiving proper professional intervention is 11 years.
  • In 2018, 3.7% of U.S. adults who were struggling with a mental health disorder also had a co-occurring substance use disorder, according to NAMI.

Potential Effects of Mental Health Disorders

The effects of failing to receive proper care for a known mental health disorder can be devastating. Untreated mental illness can destroy support systems, cause financial strife, and lead to long-lasting damage to your body and mind.

Some specific effects of untreated mental health disorders may include:

  • Inability to find and maintain a job
  • Poor performance in school or expulsion
  • Low self-confidence and a lack of self-esteem
  • Social withdrawal or increased isolation
  • Strained or ruined relationships
  • Substance use and addiction
  • Poor self-care leading to physical health concerns
  • Self-harm
  • Homelessness
  • Loss of hope for the future
  • Onset or worsening of co-occurring mental illness

You don’t have to be a victim of these unwanted effects. By seeking help at the right time, you can reduce or eliminate the havoc an untreated mental health disorder can cause in your life.

Common Underlying or Co-Occurring Disorders

For some people, displaying signs of a mental health disorder can put them at increased risk for other mental health concerns. Mental health disorders can also be the underlying cause of a substance use disorder. Nearly 10 million American adults suffered from both mental illness and addiction concerns in 2018.

Living with one or more mental health disorders is hard enough. Facing the combination of mental illness and a substance use disorder can be overwhelming. A co-occurring addiction can exacerbate any of or all the effects of a mental health disorder, leading to suicidal tendencies.

By choosing Tower Behavioral Health, you can get the help you need in a comfortable setting that features a multidisciplinary team of experienced professionals. You’ll receive a personalized mental health disorder care plan that takes into account your strengths, values, and goals.

Give yourself a chance to live the life you deserve.

This content was written on behalf of and reviewed by the clinical staff at Tower Behavioral Health.

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