We’ve all observed behavior in others that made us stop and wonder if they are okay or whether they might be experiencing a mental health challenge. Sometimes we may act, but it’s not unusual to dismiss those moments by concluding the person is simply having a bad day.

Mental illnesses rarely come with obvious signs, but there are a variety of symptoms people who are experiencing a challenge might display. The more of those symptoms they exhibit, the more likely they could benefit from some professional help. Symptoms you may notice in the adults and adolescents in your life that warrant concern may include:

  • extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
  • difficulties handling daily activities or normal stress levels
  • prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • suicidal thoughts or mentions of self-harm
  • confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • excessive worrying or fear
  • feeling excessively sad or low
  • avoiding friends and social activities
  • changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
  • difficulties understanding or relating to other people
  • changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
  • changes in sex drive
  • difficulty separating reality from imagined situations such as hallucinations
  • unable to recognize obvious changes in their own behavior or personality
  • abusing alcohol or drugs
  • physical ailments without obvious causes (headaches, stomachaches, “aches and pains”)
  • strong fear of weight gain or overwhelming concern with appearance

Young children facing mental health challenges also commonly show symptoms, although the most visible involve behavior. Common mental health symptoms in youngsters include:

  • changes in school performance
  • excessive worry or anxiety, for instance fighting to avoid bed or school
  • hyperactive behavior
  • frequent nightmares
  • frequent disobedience or aggression
  • frequent temper tantrums

If a loved one’s behavior or other symptoms have you concerned, it’s okay to approach them and ask how they’re feeling or whether they need help. If you’re not confident about initiating that type of conversation, talking with one of our professional counselors may help. We can consider your observations and offer advice for helping the individual get the help they need.

Jared Jones is one of our therapists who specialize in youth and young adults, especially those struggling with depression, anxiety, highly sensitive personalities, and those who are suicidal.