Identifying Warning Signs Of Mental Illness In The Family





Many people think that mental health illnesses are not common, and they might happen, but to someone else, ‘not me.’ But evidence has proven them wrong, as mental health disorders are quite common and, in fact, prevalent. Over 40 million people in the United States are diagnosed with some type of mental illness yearly. Many families find it difficult to prepare themselves for learning that their loved one has a mental health condition. It can be emotionally and physically draining and can cause us to feel defenseless against the judgments and views of other people.

If you or someone you know are suffering from an emotional or mental illness, remember that help and hope are not far from your reach.


Mental Disorder 

A mental disorder is a brain-dependent condition that may affect one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. And because each of us is equipped with a brain, suffering from some type of mental health disorder at some point in our life is pretty much common.

For individuals who suffer from a mental illness, their brains are wired differently, wherein they are not able to normally feel, act, or think the way they want to. Some of them go through severe and unpredictable mood swings – they feel overwhelmingly sad one moment, and then they would feel fine the next minute. For others, they can’t think more clearly and cannot communicate appropriately with someone who is trying to converse with them, or they might be having weird thoughts about what kind of illness they have.

Technically, there are over 200 types of mental disorders, some of which are more common, like dementia, depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Symptoms typically include personality and mood changes, social withdrawal, and emerging personal habits.




Mental health disorders can be associated with extreme stress secondary to a specific situation or a series of situations. Like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, mental disorders are frequently emotional and psychological, and physical. Mental disorders may also be a result of genetic elements, chemical imbalances, a response to environmental stress, or a combination of all these. With proper attention and treatment, many mentally ill people eventually learn to deal with or are cured of their mental or emotional condition.


Identifying Warning Signs

It is particularly vital to be aware of the abrupt changes in behaviors and thoughts. Also, remember that the start of some of the signs listed below – and this means not just one change – implies that there is a problem that must be evaluated.


Adolescents and Adults

Warning signs may include long-term depression, extremely high and low emotions, disorganized thoughts, social withdrawal, intense sleeping and eating habit changes, bizarre thoughts, extreme worries and anxieties, hallucinations, suicidal ideations, substance abuse, and feelings of rage, among others.


Pre-Adolescents and Older Kids

Warning signs may include sleeping and eating habit changes, growing complaints of physical illnesses, drug or alcohol use, gradually unable to deal with responsibilities, disobedience to authorities such as vandalism or theft, long-term negative moods, and frequent anger outbursts, among others.




Young Children

Warning signs may include poor grades, changes in eating or sleeping routines, extreme anxiety or stress, poor school performance, hyperactivity, and regular tantrums.


Coping with Mental Illness


Acknowledging Your Feelings

Amidst the various signs and symptoms and forms of mental disorders, many families who have loved with a mental illness have the same experiences. You may notice that you sometimes deny the signs because of fear of what others might think. Acknowledge that feelings like these are typical among families that are going through the same circumstances. Gain more knowledge about your loved one’s illness by reading and consulting a mental health provider. Finally, help others by sharing your story.


Building A Support System

If possible, find support from family and friends. If you don’t feel like talking about your situation with them, look for a support group in your area or online. These support groups offer opportunities for you and your family to communicate with others who are also experiencing similar forms of problems. They can help you, listen to you, and provide meaningful advice.


Seek Therapy

Therapy is essential for the individual who has mental illness as well as for his family. A mental health provider can make recommendations on how to deal with and better comprehend your family member’s mental disorder. When seeking a therapist, consult other professionals so that you will be able to make the right choice for your family. It will probably take time for you to be comfortable, but eventually, you will be thankful that you found the help you need.




Make Time For You

It is not uncommon for someone with a mental disorder to have more attention than the rest of the family. When this is the case, other family members might feel bitter or neglected. Others may find it hard to do what they want to.

If you are a caregiver or guardian, you must find time to take care of yourself. Avoid long-term frustration or anger by taking time away from the situation. Relax and unwind. This way, you can clear your mind from the challenges and negativity surrounding the mental illness. Regularly doing this may help you bounce back from the stress and give you more patience and affection for helping your family member or loved one.


There is hope for regaining your normal life back. With emotional support and proper treatment, many who suffer from mental illness regain their productive and happy lives.