Signs, Symptoms, & Effects of Mental Health Disorders

Mental health disorders, or mental illnesses, affect 1 in 5 American adults every year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

A mental health disorder can make daily life more challenging, with symptoms that are difficult to control on your own. A mental illness can affect all aspects of your life, including your physical health, social life, and interpersonal relationships.

Mental health professionals can provide the personalized care needed to manage mental health disorder symptoms, leading to lasting health and a more fulfilling future.

Signs of Mental Health Disorders

Mental health disorder warning signs can vary greatly from person to person depending on the disorder and its severity. A mental illness can be difficult to detect and may go unnoticed even by the person who is suffering.

Common mental health disorder signs include:

  • Feeling overly sad
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Excessive fears and worries
  • Isolation and withdrawal from friends and family
  • Feeling detached from reality
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Excessive and inappropriate anger

Symptoms of Mental Health Disorders

Once someone who has a mental illness has progressed past the warning signs, some emotional and physical symptoms may occur.

Mental health disorder symptoms can include:

  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Frequent headaches
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Violent thoughts or actions
  • Paranoia
  • Delusions and feeling detached from reality
  • Substance use
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

If you experience any mental health disorder symptoms, you should seek professional help right away.

Common Causes & Risk Factors for Mental Health Disorders

While there is no single mental health disorder cause, there are several potential factors that may contribute to a person’s chance of developing one.

Genetic factors that can increase a person’s mental health disorder risk include:

  • Pre-birth exposure to toxins, alcohol, or drugs
  • A family history of mental health disorders
  • Brain chemistry that results in impaired nerve signal function

Certain environmental factors and life events can also lead to an increased risk for mental health disorders. These include:

  • Childhood abuse
  • The loss of a loved one
  • Divorce
  • Brain injury
  • Chronic medical conditions
  • Traumatic events
  • Use of drugs or alcohol
  • Unhealthy relationships
  • A history of mental illness

Mental Health Disorder Statistics

These recent statistics show just how common mental health disorders are in the U.S.:

  • One in 20 adults suffer from a serious mental health disorder each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
  • Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for individuals ages 10-34, according to NAMI.
  • About 75% of all mental health disorders begin before the age of 24, according to NAMI.
  • NAMI reports that only 44.8% of adults receive professional help for mental illness.

Potential Effects of Mental Health Disorders

Left untreated, mental health disorders can have dangerous consequences. The effects of a mental illness can range from financial and social trouble to long-term damage to the brain and body.

Some mental health disorder effects include:

  • Family conflict
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Unstable employment
  • Missed school or work
  • Decreased enjoyment of life
  • Poverty and homelessness
  • Legal trouble
  • Problems with drugs or alcohol
  • Self-harm
  • Harm to others
  • Weakened immune system
  • Heart disease

What Happens If Mental Health Disorder Symptoms Return?

While a mental health expert can treat many mental illnesses with proper care, for some, managing mental health disorder symptoms is a lifelong process. If your symptoms return, it is important to reach out to a mental health professional to determine the next steps in your ongoing care. The sooner you receive care after noticing symptoms, the easier it may be to prevent long-term concerns.

Common Underlying or Co-Occurring Conditions

A mental health disorder can occur alone. However, having one puts you at risk for developing other mental health concerns, including substance use disorders.

Living with multiple mental health concerns can make the symptoms of each more difficult to manage on your own, so it is important to receive care for both. A substance use disorder can also worsen the symptoms of a mental health disorder, leading to a higher risk for suicide.

By choosing Glenwood Behavioral Health Hospital, you can receive personalized mental health disorder care in a safe and supportive environment. Our mental health professionals are here to help whenever you’re ready.

This content was written on behalf of and reviewed by the clinical staff at Glenwood Behavioral Health Hospital.

I am so happy to have joined a facility which is committed to providing individualized, personalized treatment for each client who entrusts Glenwood with their care.

– Glenwood team member