How Can You Tell If Someone Is Mentally Ill?


Unless you seek proper treatment, mental illness has the capacity to sap your motivation and suck the joy from the things that usually make you happy. Despite the devastating effects of mental illness, these conditions are often invisible. That is, people who are deeply depressed or anxious have learned to pass things off as normal and deal with misery. While professional diagnosis is the only certain way to know if someone is mentally ill, you can still keep an eye out for the following warning signs.

Signs That Someone is Mentally Ill

Mental illness is complex and can evolve out of a mixture of genetics and life circumstance. It’s possible that you’re close to someone who’s unknowingly mentally ill, but you might also see someone in the process of developing a mental illness.

Decline in Functioning

A drop in functioning is one of the most consistent signs of mental illness, for the simple reason that many things can cause it. Anxiety and depression can reduce executive function directly and lead to poor performance at school, work, or elsewhere. Other types of mental illnesses can worsen your quality of life to the point that maintaining normal functioning becomes impossible.

Chronic Irritability, Sadness, or Stress

While everyone suffers a poor mood now and then, mental illness takes this to a much more drastic extent. It’s not normal for someone to constantly seem to be upset, sad, or otherwise on edge. While such enduring poor mood isn’t concrete proof of mental illness, it is a considerable warning factor.

Changes in Eating Habits

Some mental illnesses, such as eating disorders revolve around sharp, unhealthy changes in eating habits. Most mental illnesses can prompt drastic changes in eating habits, though, as someone loses interest in eating or turns to food as a coping mechanism.

Sudden Disruption in Sleep

When someone’s sleep pattern is thrown out of order, there’s generally a cause. There are many ways that mental illness can disrupt normal sleep, such as making it difficult to sleep or making the next day seem unbearable. Conversely, someone might begin sleeping too much and struggle to leave their bed during a depressive episode.

Intense, Inconsistent Moods

Severe mood swings can be a direct or indirect consequence of mental illness. For instance, bipolar disorder causes the afflicted to waver between crushing depression and uncontrollable mania. Likewise, many mental illnesses can come in sudden episodes that disrupt the normal behavior and feeling of a person.

Social Withdrawal

Mental illness often makes socializing seem excessively challenging or unrewarding. Additionally, depression and other conditions can make it hard to fulfill the basic self-care that’s a prerequisite to spending time with others. When you see someone withdraw from their friends and family, mental illness may be the culprit.

Alter Behavioral Health

Alter Behavioral Health is a primary care facility for adult autism and the most common mental health disorders. If you or someone you love needs mental health support that they aren’t receiving, get in touch with us for compassionate, evidence-based care.