Mental Health

10 Ways Mental Illness Shows Itself

The toll of mental illness can be as distressing as dealing with a physical ailment. Mental illness symptoms can impact emotions, thoughts and behaviours. Here are some signs of mental illness that you should know about.

By URLife Team
22 Dec 2023

In many ways, mental health mirrors the intricacies of physical well-being: it's inherent to everyone and requires constant care. A strong mental state helps us navigate life by thinking, feeling, and responding in manners that align with our aspirations. Yet, when dealing with a period of compromised mental health, these very cognitive, emotional, and behavioural facilities might become difficult.


Mindfulness 101: Bring calm into your day with these daily tips. Sign up here.


A 2023 report published by the Indian Journal of Medical Research highlights that 1 in 7 Indians is affected by mental disorders at any given point in time, which amounts to about 200 million people. These encompass a spectrum of experiences, ranging from prevalent conditions like depression and anxiety to less common yet profoundly impactful disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.


Understanding mental health isn't just about recognising these conditions; it's also about being aware of how they manifest in individuals. From subtle shifts in behaviour to profound changes in emotions and thoughts, mental health conditions weave a complex tapestry that demands attention, understanding, and support.


Related story: 7 Signs You Need To Take A Break For Your Mental Health


10 Signs of Mental Illness

Mental illnesses can manifest in various ways and can differ greatly among individuals. However, here are ten common signs that might indicate the presence of a mental health issue:


1. Persistent Sadness or Extreme Mood Swings

Persistent sadness or extreme mood swings can be indicative of various underlying issues related to mental health such as bipolar disorder. Intense and prolonged feelings of sadness can be symptoms of depression, while extreme mood swings might suggest conditions like bipolar disorder. Depression involves persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and low energy that persist for weeks or even months. It can interfere with daily life, affecting appetite, sleep, and overall motivation.


Related Story: Five Ways To Relax Yourself In Stressful Situations


2. Withdrawal and Isolation

Withdrawal and isolation can often accompany various mental health issues and emotional struggles. When individuals withdraw or isolate themselves, it's often a coping mechanism to deal with stress, anxiety, depression, or other emotional difficulties. This behaviour involves avoiding social interactions, pulling away from regular activities, and distancing oneself from friends and family. It can manifest differently for different people. Some might physically withdraw, spending excessive time alone, avoiding social gatherings, or not engaging in activities they used to enjoy.


Related Story: Seven Ways to Unwind After a Long Week


3. Changes in Sleep Patterns

Changes in sleep patterns, whether it's experiencing insomnia or oversleeping, can often be indicative of underlying issues, including stress, anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions. Insomnia refers to difficulties in falling asleep or staying asleep, leading to inadequate rest. It can result from racing thoughts, worry, or an inability to relax due to stress or anxiety.


Related Story: How This One-Minute Rule Can Declutter Your Life


4. Changes in Appetite or Weight

Changes in appetite or weight that result in significant fluctuations over a short period can often indicate underlying physical or mental health issues. A decrease or increase in appetite can be associated with various factors, including stress, anxiety, depression, or certain medical conditions. When dealing with high levels of stress or anxiety, some individuals might lose weight rapidly due to a decreased appetite and heightened metabolic response. Conversely, others may gain weight due to emotional eating.


5. Increased Substance Abuse

Increased substance abuse, whether it's alcohol, drugs, or any other addictive behaviour, can often be a sign of underlying emotional distress or mental health issues. Individuals might turn to substances as a way to cope with difficult emotions, stress, trauma, or underlying mental health conditions like anxiety or depression. Substance abuse can provide temporary relief from emotional pain or overwhelming feelings. However, it often leads to a cycle of dependency, intensifying the underlying issues and creating additional problems.


Related Story: De-stress In Four Minutes With Box Breathing


6. Irritability or Anger

Uncontrolled anger or irritability can also stem from unresolved emotions, trauma, or difficulties in managing stress. These emotions might build up over time, leading to explosive reactions or ongoing feelings of hostility. When individuals experience heightened levels of stress, anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns, it can manifest as irritability or frequent outbursts of anger. This can impact how they interact with others, causing conflicts or strained relationships due to reactions that may be disproportionate to the situation.


Related Story: These 8 Habits Will Help You To Live Your Best Life


7. Intrusive Thoughts or Fears

Persistent worries, intrusive thoughts, or irrational fears that disrupt daily life. Intrusive thoughts can be distressing, causing significant anxiety or discomfort. These thoughts often involve persistent worries or fears that intrude upon a person's mind, causing distress and disrupting normal functioning. They might manifest as recurring images, fears of harm to oneself or others, irrational fears of specific situations or objects, or persistent worries about unlikely events.


Related story: 5 Ways To Overcome Self-Defeating Thoughts


8. Struggling to Cope with Daily Challenges

When individuals find it challenging to handle everyday stressors or fulfill responsibilities at work, school, or in personal life, it might be due to factors like excessive stress, anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions. This struggle can manifest as difficulty concentrating, feeling overwhelmed, experiencing frequent mood swings, or lacking motivation. Additionally, implementing self-care practices, setting realistic goals, and breaking tasks into smaller, manageable steps can help regain a sense of control and improve coping abilities.


Related Story: How to Be More Mindful at Work and Home


9. Difficulty in maintaining relationships

Experiencing difficulty in maintaining relationships can be a complex issue that stems from various factors, including communication barriers, unresolved conflicts, individual differences, or underlying mental health concerns. Sometimes, challenges in relationships arise due to poor communication skills or a lack of understanding between individuals. This can lead to misunderstandings, frequent arguments, or feelings of distance. Other times, unresolved conflicts or past traumas can impact current relationships, making it challenging to connect or trust others.


Related story: How To Break Up With A Toxic Friend


10. Trust issues or paranoia

Trust issues often stem from past negative experiences, betrayals, or trauma, leading individuals to struggle with trusting others, even in new or unrelated situations. Paranoia involves intense and irrational feelings of mistrust, suspicion, or fear that others are trying to harm or deceive you. It can manifest as excessive vigilance, interpreting innocent actions as malicious, or feeling constantly watched or targeted. Both trust issues and paranoia can be associated with various mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, paranoid personality disorder, or past traumatic experiences.


Related story: Signs of A Toxic Relationship


What Can You Do?

Recognising these signs is a critical step in seeking help and support. It's important to note that experiencing one or more of these signs doesn't necessarily mean a person has a mental illness.


Awareness of the varied manifestations helps individuals understand their own experiences better. It allows for self-reflection, promoting self-awareness and the ability to seek appropriate help when needed.


Different symptoms may require different approaches to treatment and support.Ultimately, recognising the multifaceted nature of mental health challenges is integral to creating an environment that supports early intervention, helps tackle mental health issues, and fosters a more inclusive and understanding society. However, if these signs persist over time and interfere significantly with daily life, seeking professional guidance from a mental health expert is advisable.


Mindfulness 101: Bring calm into your day with these daily tips. Sign up here.



Follow Us On Instagram