5 Warning Signs of Mental Illness

sad man

Mental wellness is a necessity, not a luxury. It’s a mainstay of a satisfying, healthy and fulfilling life.

But daily stresses (those most of us know too well) can derail mental wellness. Left unchecked, chronic stress may contribute to physical health problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and others. But chronic stress can do more than undermine physical health; it can open the door for lasting mental problems–such as depression and various anxiety disorders.

Self-care is important to maintain good mental health

Indeed, prevention is the best medicine. Actively working to improve your mental health can help curb certain mental health challenges. But it would be insensitive to suggest that each of us has total control over our mental health. After all, genetics may contribute to mental health disorders. And some environmental factors, such as a bad relationship or substance abuse problems, can be hard to immediately cure.

When all the best efforts to improve mental wellness have been exhausted, it’s important to identify the warning signs of mental illness in yourself and those you love in order to seek appropriate treatment early. Allowing mental illness to run rampant can give rise to job security issues, homelessness, incarceration, victimization or even, tragically, suicide.

Signs of mental illness can include personality and emotional changes

Some warning signs of mental illness are obvious. Others are faint. Either way, when you start to see these in yourself or your loved ones, it’s important to seek professional counsel.

Changes in personality

Some days, it’s hard to “feel like yourself.” But when this feeling persists, or if you see it dragging on in loved ones, it’s time to seek help and look for underlying problems.

Changes in emotion

Uncharacteristic anger, anxiety, irritability, despondency and other strong emotions put up a mental-illness red flag.


Special attention should be paid when you or a loved one cancel otherwise normal social activities or avoid standard communication with friends and family.

Sudden absence of self-care

A stark decline in the hygiene or personal appearance of those you know and care about can indicate mental illness. And we all have daredevils in our circle of friends and family, but consideration should be given if you note unusual risky behavior in your loved ones or yourself.

Sense of hopelessness or feeling overwhelmed

Life is full of ups and downs, but the feeling of life being insurmountable can indicate mental illness. And if you hear atypical expressions of hopelessness or discouragement from those in your life, it may warrant a closer look.

It’s essential to identify the warning signs of mental illness to seek early treatment or get help. However, it may be even more important to know the warning signs of suicide. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2018, 48,344 people in the country died by suicide.

Warning Signs of Suicide

• Talking about wanting to die

• Expressing feelings of being a burden to others

• Making a plan or researching ways to die

• Taking dangerous risks

• Excessively using drugs or alcohol

• Showing extreme mood swings

• Displaying extreme sadness or hopelessness

If you see these, or any other suicidality warning signs, in your family or loved ones, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline immediately. And, of course, if you feel these same feelings, seek help. There are a wide variety of suicide prevention resources available.

Davis Behavioral Health is here to help with life’s stresses. We have trained, experienced, caring professionals to help with a variety of mental health challenges. We are your ally in improving mental health and well-being. If you’re struggling through mental health challenges, remember that seeking help is a sign of strength and self-respect, not weakness.