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American Nurses Association Health Expo

Signs of Mental Health Issues

What are the symptoms of a mental illness? If a friend or loved one doesn’t seem themselves, how do you spot the difference between a bad mood and something more serious? Drinking too much, being a party pooper, crying all the time or any other ongoing, significant change in a person’s behaviours, thoughts or feelings could be tell tale signs of a mental illness. Learn the signs that could prompt you to think that a friend or family member is among the one in five of Australians dealing with a mental health issue.

Often it’s not a single change, but a combination. The following nine signs are not to help you diagnose a mental health issue, but instead to reassure you that there might be good reason to seek more information about your concerns.

Where to Get Help

If you’re concerned about a friend or loved one, ask them how you can help. The first step for a person with symptoms of a mental illness is to see a doctor or healthcare professional. If you’re concerned a friend or loved one is at immediate risk of suicide or self-harm, dial triple zero (000).

 

Feeling worried or anxious

We all get worried or stressed from time to time. But anxiety could be the sign of a mental health issue if it’s constant and interferes all the time. Other symptoms of anxiety may include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, headache, restlessness, diarrhea or a racing mind.

Emotional outbursts

Everyone has different moods, but sudden and dramatic changes in mood, such as extreme distress or anger, can be a symptom of mental illness.

Feeling depressed or unhappy

Have you noticed that your friend has lost interest in a hobby you used to share? If they’ve also seemed sad or irritable for the last few weeks or more, lacking in motivation and energy or are teary all the time; they might be dealing with depression.

Sleep problems

Generally, we need seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Persisting changes to a person’s sleep patterns could be a symptom of a mental illness. For example insomnia; could be a sign of anxiety or substance abuse. Sleeping too much or too little could indicate depression or an eating disorder.

Weight or appetite changes

Many of us want to lose a few kilos but for some people fluctuating weight or rapid weight loss could be one of the warning signs of a mental illness, such as depression or an eating disorder. Other mental health issues can impact appetite and weight too.

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