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Red Flags: 8 Warning Signs of Mental Health Disorders 

07/01/2024

Sometimes others can see things about us that are not apparent to us. This is especially true when it comes to our mental health. This is why we need each other. 

Warning Signs 
of Mental Health Disorders

The stigma that surrounds mental illness can prevent individuals from recognizing their own struggles.  

8 Warning Signs of Common Mental Health Disorders  

Changes in Behavior 

One of the most noticeable indicators of a mental health disorder is a significant change in behavior. This could include withdrawal from social activities, increased irritability, mood swings, or aggression. If someone you know starts exhibiting behaviors that are out of character for them, it’s time to talk about seeking help. 

Substance Use 

Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol is a very common way for individuals struggling with mental health disorders to try to cope. Substance use can exacerbate existing mental health issues and lead to further complications. If someone you know is using substances excessively or irresponsibly, it could be a sign that they have an underlying mental health disorder.  

Persistent Sadness or Anxiety 

Everyone feels sad and worries about the future sometimes. It’s part of the human experience. But feelings of sadness or anxiety that persist for an extended period (weeks), affecting a person’s ability to function in their daily life, may be signs of a mental health disorder. Thoughts and feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, excessive worrying, or overwhelming feelings of panic indicate it is time to get help. 

Difficulty Concentrating 

Trouble focusing or making decisions can be a sign of various mental health disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, or anxiety. If someone is consistently having difficulty concentrating, it may be time to get professional help to consider and treat underlying causes. 

Changes in Sleeping or Eating Patterns 

Disruptions in sleeping or eating habits can often be linked to mental health issues. This may involve sleeping too much, insomnia, or changes in appetite leading to significant weight loss or gain. Keep an eye out for these changes, especially if they occur suddenly or persist over time. 

Physical Symptoms 

While mental health disorders primarily affect emotions and behaviors, they can also manifest physical symptoms such as headaches, digestive issues, or chronic pain. These physical symptoms may not have a medical cause and could be driven by a mental health disorder. 

Social Withdrawal 

Isolation from friends, family, or social activities is a key sign of depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders. If someone is avoiding social interactions that they once enjoyed, this could be another sign of a problem with their mental health. 

Suicidal Thoughts or Self-Harm 

Perhaps the most important warning sign of a mental health crisis is the presence of suicidal thoughts or self-harming behaviors. 

If someone expresses thoughts of self-harm or suicide, it’s crucial to take immediate action by seeking professional help or contacting emergency services. Call or text the 988 Suicide and Crisis Line. 

Recognizing the warning signs of mental health disorders is the first step in supporting individuals who may be struggling. It’s essential to approach these conversations with empathy, compassion, and without judgment.  

Encourage open communication and offer to help connect them with mental health professionals or support resources. 

Connect with SouthLight

We are deeply embedded in the community, with extensive knowledge about, and access to, resources at SouthLight and throughout our community. Finding and preparing for mental health and/or substance use treatment can be challenging. Even if you aren’t ready to engage in care with us, we hope that some of the resources and information below will help you on your recovery journey. If you have questions about how SouthLight can help you, call (919) 787-6131.