Frequently, mental health doesn’t change overnight. It can be a gradual process. Here are eight things to look for that might be a sign of decreasing stability or the onset of an episode.
- Change in sleep. A change in the need for sleep (sleeping less) or an increase in the need for sleep (sleeping more) can both be signs that a person is in trouble.
- Weight gain or weight loss. A loss of interest in food or an increased interest in food can both be a warning sign for the possibility of a mental health crisis.
- Less frequent communication. Is the person (or you) losing their/your interest in communication with others?
- Lack of motivation. Are the dishes going unwashed? Is laundry stacking up? Is there not enough food in the house?
- Decrease in good personal hygiene. Have you, or the person you care about given up on brushing their teeth and washing their hair? A lack of personal grooming could be a sign of a much bigger issue.
- Wanting to isolate socially. Are you or the person you care about canceling plans with friends, ignoring texts and phone calls? Added to a couple of other symptoms this could be a sign that you or the person you care about needs to see a doctor.
- Increased irritation. Irritability can be a sign that things are getting more and more difficult for someone with a mental illness.
- Increased agitation. If you or the person you care about has a difficult time sitting still this could be an indication that they are battling high levels of anxiety.
All of these are symptoms that advocates, caregivers and people with a mental illness should be aware of in regards to their care or the care of someone they love. Reporting these issues to a doctor may help avoid a full-blown manic, psychotic or depressive episode. Not all episodes are possible to avoid, but if we pay attention to the subtleties of everyday life, we may be able to get treatment before suffering from a crisis.
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