Signs and Symptoms of Mental Illiness

The symptoms of mental illnesses vary greatly depending on the condition. For example, someone with depression may experience decreased energy and trouble sleeping while someone with an eating disorder may binge and purge.

All mental illnesses share this in common: they are associated with significant distress or interfere with a person’s ability to function.

In order to meet the criteria for mental illness, generally, an individual’s symptoms must interfere with their social, occupational or educational functioning.

Everyone experiences peaks and valleys in their mental health. A stressful experience, such as the loss of a loved one, might temporarily diminish your psychological well-being. But that doesn’t mean you’re mentally ill. Most mental illnesses require that the symptoms last for a certain period of time, such as two weeks.

Some individuals have insight into their illness and recognize that they’re experiencing a problem. Someone with an anxiety disorder, for example, will likely recognize that their symptoms are affecting their everyday life.

However, someone who has a psychotic disorder may not realize that their thoughts are distorted.

In general terms, common symptoms of mental illness may include things such as:

  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Changes in sleep
  • Changes in appetite
  • Withdrawal
  • Unexplained physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomachaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in mood

Each mental illness has a different set of symptoms, but they tend to involve changes in thinking, mood, and behaviour. If you suspect that you or a loved one has a mental illness it’s important to speak with a specialist about your concerns.