By Dr. Shashi Bhushan Kumar, Psychiatry
Symptoms of profound mental illnesses do not appear suddenly. However, they do show in a subdued form till a trigger brings out the full-blown form. The symptoms of mental illnesses vary according to the severity of the disorder, type of disorder, the age of the patient etc. The following symptoms are generalized signs that a person might be suffering from a psychological disorder and should be looked into immediately.
- Social Withdrawal: Recent social withdrawal and lack of contact between an individual and society including friends and family is an indication of mental illness. This also amplifies stress and other mental problems.
- Drop in Functioning: Unexpected drop in functioning and withdrawal from school, work, sports or other activities is often seen in psychological patients. The person may also experience difficulty in performing easy and familiar tasks.
- Problems in cognitive functioning: The person has cognitive problems such as reduced concentration and trouble processing thoughts. A mentally ill person also has problems with memory, speech and logical thoughts.
- Changes in sleeping patterns and appetite: There is an unusual and drastic change in sleep and appetite pattern. There may also be a decline in personal care and hygiene.
- Mood Swings: Rapid changes in moods and feelings are important signs of mental disorder. This is an indicator of a disturbed and unstable mind.
- Aggression: Heightened feelings of anger, violence and hostility are prevalent among psychological patients.
- Hallucinations: Hallucinations are artificial sensory inputs that the patient perceives to be real but they are actually made up by the mind. Hallucinations are of four types namely visual, auditory, taste-related or sensory hallucinations.
- Delusions: Delusions are idiosyncratic impressions or beliefs that are maintained by a person even when reality or rational argument contradicts him. Four main types of delusions in chronic mental illnesses are delusions of persecution, grandeur, reference and control.