For Family: Spotting the Signs of Mental Illness

signs of mental illnessMental illness and substance use disorder often go hand in hand – in fact, there’s even a name for it: co-occurring disorder or dual diagnosis.

According to a National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly 8 million people in the U.S. experience both a mental disorder and substance use disorder simultaneously. Either disorder — mental illness or a substance use disorder — can develop first. Data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse shows high rates of cooccurring substance use disorders and anxiety disorders (generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder) as well as  mental disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), psychotic illness, borderline personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder.

If left untreated, mental illness can exacerbate the symptoms of a drug or alcohol use disorder – and vice versa. It can also cause relapse, which is yet another reason to learn the warning signs if someone you love is recovering from a substance use disorder.

Trying to tell what might be the signs of a mental illness isn’t always easy. This is partly because the symptoms will differ depending on the particular mental illness. In general, however, the American Psychological Association notes five telltale signs that indicate someone needs professional mental help:

  1. Change in personality: Is your loved one acting like a totally different person or just unlike his normal self?
  2. Uncharacteristic anxiety, anger or moodiness: Is your loved one experiencing severe and persistent changes in emotion?
  3. Social withdrawal and isolation: Is your loved one “closed off” socially or spending too much time alone?
  4. Lack of self-care or risky behaviors: Is your loved one abusing alcohol and/or drugs or exhibiting other risk behavior? Is he showing a lack of concern with appearance and hygiene?
  5. Sense of hopelessness or feeling overwhelmed: Does your loved one feel like life is just too hard or does he seem to be giving up?

Helping Your Loved One Heal
You can make a difference in your loved one’s recovery. This is why we encourage families to be involved with their loved one’s treatment. To learn more about our family program, call today: 866-905-4550.