About 10% of our family members or ourselves who are above 65 years, show signs of organic brain disorder. Such mental illnesses due to old age were originally undifferentiated under the term “senility” – the loss of mental faculties with age. However 4 main condition are now recognized – acute confusion, senile dementia, arteriosclerotic dementia and depressive illness, according to research by WebMD.
There is no simple test to tell you whether you or someone you know has a mental illness. Often, you or people around you will notice small changes in how you act, long before the symptoms seriously affect you.
Everyone goes through changes in their emotions, thoughts, and behavior from time to time. But when these changes make you less able to function, day to day, they may be signs of mental illness. Mental illness takes many forms including depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. It is very common, affecting some 4 million Nigerians each year.
If you recognize when something seems amiss, you can talk to a doctor or mental health professional about what to do. Getting help early, often keeps mental illness from getting worse.
Certain symptoms could be a sign that it is time to seek help, especially if you notice more than a couple of the underlisted signs and symptoms. They include:
Sadness or crankiness that lasts longer than usual
Withdrawal from friends and family
Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
High and low extremes of emotions.
Big changes in sleeping or eating habits
Worries or fears that seem out of proportion
Ignoring personal grooming and hygiene.
Changes in your sex drive
Disorganized or confused thoughts
Drug and alcohol abuse
Many unexplained physical illnesses
Ideas that don’t line up with reality
Seeing or hearing things that others cannot
Thinking or talking about suicide
Signs of mental illness in children
When a child has mental illness, they may have some of the symptoms as adults, like worrying too much or changes in sleep and eating habits. You may also notice :
Changes in how they perform in school
Aggression and disobedience
Lots of temper tantrums
They seem too sensitive to sights, sounds, smells or touch
Odd or unusual behavior
Should you seek help?
Just because you notice one or two of these symptoms does not mean you or your loved one has a mental illness. Major life events, like the loss of a job, or a loved one, can take a normal toll on your mood and ability to function. A physical illness, a new medication, or changes in dosage can cause a few of these symptoms.
But it may be time to seek help, if:
You notice several of these signs and symptoms enumerated above.
They are not linked to any obvious bereavement or events.
They last long enough to interfere with your life.
If you start treatment early, you may be able to delay or even prevent the most serious effects. Consult your doctor immediately. Always be medically guided.
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