Early Warning Signs of Mental Health Distress
Could you or someone you know be experiencing a mental health problem?
How would you know?
Following are examples of early warning signs and symptoms of mental health problems. Early warning signs are subtle signs of change that indicate that action needs to be taken to prevent full blown symptoms of mental illness.
The tricky thing about early warning signs is that you may not notice them. If in doubt ask your GP or someone close to you – someone you can trust.
Changes in feelings:
- Feeling helpless or useless
- Feeling anxious or worried; confused or puzzled
- Feeling unable to cope with everyday tasks
- Feeling tense or restless
- Feeling irritable or quick to become aggressive
- Feeling depressed or unhappy
- Feeling isolated or in another world
- Feeling unsafe or threatened
- Feeling paranoid (thinking that others are watch or talking about you) and that you cannot trust other people
Changes in thinking:
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
- Difficulty making decisions
- Thoughts racing, slowing down or jumbled/ confused
- Dwelling on past events
- Thinking very negative, pessimistic thoughts
- Thinking and seeing bizarre things and experiencing strange sensations
- Hearing voices or seeing visions or things that other people cannot see
- Thinking you have special powers, such as reading other peoples minds.
- Thinking about harming yourself
Changes in behaviour:
- Isolating from others, not wanting to go outside
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Increased or decreased sleep
- Increased risk taking/ dangerous behaviour (eg – alcohol or illicit drug use)
- Increase in emotional outbursts (eg – crying, laughing or yelling)
- Reduced energy levels & motivation to participate in activities & interests
- Difficulty looking after personal appearance & living environment
- Difficulty in speaking – jumbling words ; using odd language or words
- Acting suspiciously, as if being watched; or behaving oddly for no reason