Education & Support

Fostering Stronger Minds, Enriching Lives:
Explore AIGAS Education for Mental Health Services

Warning Signs and Symptoms

Distinguishing between normal actions and those that might suggest a mental disorder can be quite a challenge. There’s no quick test that definitively determines whether someone is grappling with a mental illness, displaying ordinary human tendencies, or responding to an illness.

While every mental health condition presents unique symptoms, the following are common indicators of mental illness in both adults and adolescents:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Persistent feelings of profound sadness or low mood
  • Confusion, difficulty concentrating, and learning difficulties
  • Severe mood swings, characterized by uncontrollable “high” states or feelings of euphoria
  • Intense irritability or anger
  • Social withdrawal, including avoidance of friends and activities
  • Difficulties in relating to or understanding others
  • Changes in sleep patterns and ongoing fatigue
  • Altered appetite, featuring increased hunger or a lack of interest in food
  • Shifts in sexual desire or drive
  • Difficulty distinguishing reality, leading to delusions or hallucinations
  • Lack of awareness regarding changes in feelings, behavior, or personality (known as “anosognosia”)
  • Substance abuse, such as alcohol or drugs
  • Numerous unexplained physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, and chronic discomfort
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
  • Inability to manage daily activities or cope with routine problems and stressors
  • Overwhelming fear of weight gain or excessive preoccupation with physical appearance

Even young children may encounter mental health issues. Given that they are still learning to recognize and express their thoughts and emotions, their symptoms often manifest behaviorally. In children, you might observe:

  • Changes in academic performance
  • Excessive stress or anxiety, such as delaying bedtime or school attendance
  • Restlessness and hyperactivity
  • Frequent nightmares
  • Consistent defiance or hostility
  • Frequent outbursts of anger

What’s Next?
If you or someone you know needs help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. The first thing you should do is learn as much as you can about mental health.

For more help, or to find out more about mental health services call 24/7 DCT customer services line at 312.600.5196

Help is available if you or someone you know is having a hard time or is in a crisis. Chat at 988lifeline.org, call or text 988, or go to 988lifeline.org.

Understanding warning signs can help you identify when the correct time is to reach out to a professional. For most people getting an accurate evaluation is a first step towards getting help.

Recognizing these telltale signs can act as your guide, leading you toward seeking professional help. Unlike conditions like diabetes or cancer, mental illnesses elude definitive diagnosis through medical tests. Instead, mental health professionals rely on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association, to evaluate symptoms and establish a diagnosis. This comprehensive manual outlines specific criteria, including emotions, behaviors, and temporal considerations, that must be met for an official classification as a mental health condition.

Once diagnosed, a healthcare provider can collaborate with you to design a treatment plan tailored to your unique needs. This plan may include pharmaceutical intervention, therapy, or lifestyle adjustments, reflecting a deeply personalized and holistic approach to your mental well-being.