Mental health is a complicated subject that can be daunting; but we can all learn to look out for
early signs of a developing issue.
Problems can be spotted early on if you know what you are looking for, and knowing how to
intervene in good time can make a huge difference to the management of what could become
a long-term issue with a very deep impact.
These are not clear diagnoses, of course, but being able to spot symptoms is important, particularly
for those in mental health jobs and also for those of us who simply want to look out for our friends
and relatives and make sure they receive the care they need.
“Problems can be spotted early on if you
know what you are looking for.
Knowing how to intervene in good time
can make a huge difference in the
management of what could become
a long-term issue.”
Here are some potential warning signs to watch out for:
Look out for signs of anxiety: we all show stresses and strains from time to time, but if a person
exhibits consistent signs of anxiety, this could be a cause for concern.
This could manifest itself in symptoms such as restlessness, palpitations, shortness of breath,
light-headedness or an upset stomach.
If you notice a person becoming unusually demotivated in their work or hobbies – dropping out
of activities, under-performing or seeming disinterested in things they previously cared about –
this could be a sign of depression.
If a friend seems unhappy, depressed or irritable, and this goes on for a period of weeks or longer,
this could also indicate something is wrong.
Listen out also for expressions of guilt or worthlessness, as these can be signs of depression.
And if the person expresses suicidal or violent thoughts, this is a clear cause for concern.
Also look out for a sudden lack of interest in spending time with others.
If the person starts spending more time alone, this could also signal a mental health issue such as
depression, bipolar disorder or a psychotic disorder.
Fluctuating weight or rapid weight loss could also be a cause for concern, as mental health issues can
affect our appetite and weight.
Lasting changes in a person’s sleep patterns can be an indication of a troubled mind, so if a person
is sleeping unusually little – or unusually a lot – this could be a symptom of a problem such as anxiety
Other Behavioural Changes
If you notice other significant, consistent changes in behaviour that don’t seem to ‘fit’, these could also
indicate that something is amiss.
Particularly for workers in mental health jobs, it pays to be on the lookout for these behavioural shifts
and to regard them as potential warning signs.
Are you familiar with the warning signs of mental illness?
Have you or someone you know experienced mental health issues?
Share your thoughts and comments with us.