Early warning signs of mental health problems

Early Signs of Mental Health Issues

Attempting to tell the difference between expected behaviour when it comes to certain situations or stressful times and what may be the initial signs of a developing mental illness is never easy. Each mental illness has its signs and symptoms; however, no two mental illnesses ever look the same in each individual. How one person displays their mental illness will be completely different from how another person with the same illness displays theirs.

While each illness will have its own set of distinguishing signs and symptoms, as a whole, there are a variety of symptoms that you can look out for if you begin feeling or watching a loved one exhibit constantly. These can be seen to include but are not limited to:

  • Changes in an individual’s sex drive
  • Excessive worrying
  • Changes in eating habits 
  • Constantly feeling tired or having no energy
  • Extreme mood changes throughout the day
  • Problems concentrating 
  • Feeling excessively sad for what seems to be no reason 
  • Excessive fear
  • Overuse of substances such as alcohol and drugs
  • Prolonged feelings of irritability 
  • Avoiding social situations 
  • Thoughts about suicide
  • Rapid weight gain or loss
  • Inability to handle simple day-to-day tasks that were once easily accomplished 
  • Difficulty perceiving what reality is and what is real life
  • Struggling to understand others’ emotions 
  • Changing eating habits 
  • Confused thinking 

Mental health disorders are highly complex; they do not discriminate and can begin developing at any age. Young people are often at more risk than adults as they are still navigating growing up, dealing with hormones, and learning to talk and digest their emotions. 

If you have a young adult or teenager who has begun showing the following symptoms, we would advise that a check in a medical professional to ensure that their mental stability is within a safe range:

  • Frequent and ongoing temper tantrums 
  • Constant aggression
  • Frequent disobedience 
  • Ongoing nightmares
  • Hyperactive behaviour 
  • Sudden changes in school performance or activities
  • Excessive worry or general anxiety
    • This can take as physically fighting to avoid going to school

Aspects of early warning signs 

The above signs and symptoms alone are often not enough to truly identify if an individual is struggling with their mental health; however, they are something that needs to be monitored. Every one of us will experience some of the above signs throughout our lives during a difficult period. Therefore unless the signs are continuous, we would not say you need to visit a medical professional but continuously monitor the symptoms. 

For the signs and symptoms above to be a warning signs of a mental illness, an individual must exhibit the signs continuously. Furthermore, the signs need to come from the individuals themselves and not the surrounding environment that may be originating the signs. 

Early warning signs such as the ones listed above should never be ignored, but we also do not want people to worry if they notice themselves or loved ones exhibiting them. These signs are not severe but are an important reminder of how vital our mental health is for us to succeed and have a positive life. If you find yourself or a loved one developing these signs and symptoms, it can be a great conversation starter to be open and honest about mental health and action plans to stay on top of it. 

Making a plan 

If you have noticed either yourself or a loved one has been displaying various symptoms that you believe are associated with a mental health disorder, there will need to be a plan put in place for warning sides that their mental health is deteriorating. 

The plan will need to include a range of alternative ways of how daily tasks such as taking the kids to school will not be affected if the individual who is suffering needs to go for medical treatment. Your plan will need to include the following:


You will need to monitor yourself or your loved ones regularly to ensure no severe warning signs creep in without anyone noticing. Even if you believe the situation has improved and the individual mental health has positively increased. Do not stop monitoring until you see constant signs of positive mental health. 

Reach out for help

If you sense that you or a loved one has gotten to the stage where they require help, you must ensure that the relevant people are a phone call away. In some cases, when it comes to an individual’s mental health, medical attention is needed immediately. 


Ensure that the friends and family you have, identify the ones you know will support individuals through thick and thin. Confide in them, and if they show support, lean on them to support your mental health or for them to help you help a loved one with their mental health. 

Individuals with mental health disorders need all the support they can get; with this in place, they will find it easier to go for treatment and recover. 

Suicidal thoughts 

Experiencing suicidal thoughts regarding mental health illnesses is not uncommon. If you believe that you or a loved one is at risk of hurting themselves or are in the mental mindset to follow through with the suicide, please get help immediately. 

  • Call your local emergency number straight away. Please do not try to reason with them; pick up the phone and get the emergency services to the scene. 
  • Call a mental health specialist. 
  • Call a suicide hotline. Within America, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use its webchat on https://988lifeline.org/chat/.
  • Reach out to a trusted loved one or carer.
  • Contact a spiritual leader, minister or someone within your faith community. 

Once an individual has reached a stage where they are thinking suicidal thoughts, their mindset will not simply get better. While they will have days that seem completely fine and happy with life, the negative thoughts remain. Individuals need medical help once they have reached this stage. 


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