Mental illness is never a nice thing to talk about – but it’s absolutely essential that we do. Because even if we wish it wasn’t, mental health issues are a very real and very serious problem in our world today. We know that in an ideal world no one would suffer mental illnesses at all, and everyone would be happy and healthy all the time. But sadly, that’s not the world we live in, and around 1 in 5 adults in the UK struggle with mental health conditions. What might be more surprising is that the number is likely much, much higher than that – it’s just some people don’t realise the symptoms they are suffering are due to a mental illness.
Mental Health Warning Signs
Trying to tell the difference between normal behaviours or thoughts and those that might be signs of mental illness isn’t always easy – and there’s no simple test you can take to find out. Instead, you need to know what the warning signs are, and what they mean. Now, every mental health issue has its own symptoms, but there are some common signs you can look for in adults and adolescents, including:
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Feeling extremely sad or low
- Confused thinking, or problems concentrating
- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable ‘highs’ or feelings of euphoria
- Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
- Changes in sleeping habits, or feeling tired and low energy
- Changing in eating habits, such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Changes in sex drive
- Difficulty perceiving reality
- Inability to perceive changes in your own feelings
- Overuse of substances, like alcohol or drugs
- Multiple physical ailments without obvious warning signs (like headaches, stomach aches, or vague ongoing ‘aches and pains’)
- Thinking about suicide
- Inability to carry out daily activities, or handle daily problems and stress
- An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance
You might look at this list of symptoms and see that some are obviously linked to certain disorders (for example a fear of weight gain is often linked to eating disorders), but others aren’t so clear, and it’s these symptoms that can often be hidden under the radar. This is especially true for the more physical symptoms – like stomach aches, backaches, headaches and other unexplained aches – which can be the result of mental health issues manifesting in a physical way. This is one of the reasons it’s difficult to spot the signs of mental health issues in ourselves, or in others. Every illness manifests a little differently in every person.
But if you have any signs or symptoms of mental illness, it’s recommended you seek treatment as soon as you can. Most mental illnesses won’t improve on their own, and if left untreated they can get worse over time and cause serious problems.
Your Support Options
The good news is, you’re not alone. Mental health is something more and more people are becoming aware of every day, and more resources are being dedicated to supporting and treating people who are struggling.
GP: If you’re struggling with severe symptoms, you’re not sure what’s going on or you want to start the process of getting help, your GP is always a good place to go. They are trained to recognise the symptoms of mental illnesses, and can give you advice on what the appropriate treatment options for you could be. In many cases the suggestion might be a combination of medication and therapy, which is where the NHS becomes a difficult option, because waiting lists for therapy and counselling are very, very long.
Support Groups: If you know the issue you’re struggling with, you could look for a local support group. These groups are often run by volunteers and are designed to provide a local, friendly support network for you to talk to. They can be incredibly valuable, but they shouldn’t be used as a replacement for professional support.
Private Therapist: If the NHS lists are too long, or you want to explore more alternative options for treatment and support, then a private therapist might be a better option. This kind of resource is run as a normal business, by appointment, so you will be able to access help very quickly, but you will have to pay for the time.
Clinics like the Holistic Healthcare Group provide you with access to a wide range of treatment options for mental health issues, so you can experiment with what works well for you. We understand that mental health is as unique as the person struggling, which is why we wanted to offer as many different support options as possible under one roof. And with our app, MELP, you can trial different therapies for free, so you don’t have to be out of pocket to find a mental health treatment that works for you. If you would like to know more, please just get in touch with our team today, or download the MELP app in your app store.