Many mental illnesses are caused by biochemical disturbances in the brain and others are triggered by exposure to an extremely stressful event. There are many classifications of mental disorders, such as mood, anxiety, sleep, eating, and personality disorders. To learn about these and more visit our Disorders page. Many illnesses are treatable, especially when treatment is not delayed.
Warning signs that may indicate problems warranting help:
You can help yourself, your family, and friends by knowing some of the warning signs that may indicate problems that warrant help:
Undue, prolonged anxiety. This is an anxiety out of proportion to any identifiable reason or cause. A state of constant tension and fear, fastening upon first one cause and then another is a signal that help is needed.
Prolonged or severe depression. The “blues” is a natural reaction to life’s ups and downs. Depression, however, causes persistent changes in a person’s mood, behavior, and feelings. Five or more of the following symptoms indicate a need for professional evaluation: feelings of sadness or irritability; loss of interest in sex and activities once enjoyed; changes in weight or appetite; changes in sleeping patterns; feeling guilty, worthless, or hopeless; inability to concentrate, remember things, or make decisions; fatigue or loss of energy; restlessness or decreased activity noticed by others; and thoughts of suicide or death.
Abrupt changes in mood or behavior. Unlike changes a person adopts for self-improvement, these changes reflect serious alterations in a person’s normal habits or way of thinking. The exceptionally frugal person, for example, who suddenly begins gambling away large sums of money may be experiencing emotional problems.
Tension-caused physical problems. Physical complaints that arise from stress range from headaches to nausea to muscle spasms. These symptoms, including pain, are very real; only a physician can determine their origin. Because medical tests may reveal an organic cause, any persistent physical ailment should be checked by a doctor.
From Mental Illness: Basic Facts, Mental Health America of Wisconsin