Mental illnesses are far from rare. In fact, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one adult in five has a mental illness in any given year. That means the majority of people will deal with at least some type of mental illness at some point in life.

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Illnesses like this might be very common, but the symptoms people can feel due to mental illness can be incredibly variable. That is due, in part, to the sheer number of different types of illnesses out there. The Mental Health Association in Forsyth County says there are more than 200 different mental illness diagnoses available. Each one might have different symptoms.

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Watching for symptoms is vital, however, as families that spot a problem can deliver quick relief. Common signs to look for include:

  • Loss of interest in things once enjoyed
  • Increased sense of isolation
  • Crying for no reason
  • Laughing for no reason
  • Inability to show or feel any type of emotion
  • Sense of hopelessness
  • Expressions of grandiosity
  • Increased impulsivity
  • Hallucinations
  • Nervousness
  • Personality changes
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Law-breaking behavior
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Unwillingness to leave home
  • Dropping grades or reduced performance at work
  • Unusual outbursts
  • Self-harming behaviors, including cutting or hair pulling
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Unusual obsessions
  • Repetitive behavior
  • Unusual speech patterns
  • Words of concern from teachers, bosses, or close friends
  • Inattentiveness to grooming
  • Wandering
  • Sudden shifts in mood, from happy to sad or sad to happy
  • Unusual reactions to things the person once considered routine
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Violence
  • Increased willingness to be a victim of abuse or violence
  • Lack of childcare skills, where some were present in the past
  • Lack of housekeeping skills, where some were present in the past

These are symptoms associated with very different types of mental illnesses, so it is very unlikely that one person would have all of them at the same time. Some people might have just one or two symptoms, while others have many. When enough of these issues appear, it should drive families to seek help.

Many people with mental illnesses will not get that help alone, as they are afraid of what their family members and friends will say when they reveal their difficulties. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association says more than one person in four with a mental illness cites stigma as a reason to avoid care.

Families can help by:

  1. Learning all they can about mental illness
  2. Sharing that knowledge with the person who needs care
  3. Remaining honest and friendly during the conversation, regardless of how the person reacts
  4. Looking for a trained professional to help with the conversation, as needed
  5. Finding a treatment program that can help
  6. Transporting the person to that program
  7. Remaining involved in therapy as it moves forward
  8. Continuing to express support for the person

With this loving support, and qualified care, people with mental illnesses can get better, but their families will need to make that process start. Those who see symptoms should take action now, to help the person they love.