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Mental illness awareness month – July 2020

July 30, 2020 by optima0
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It is too easy to go about our busy lives and not notice symptoms of physical or mental illness. Our body has built-in warning systems which alert us to the signs that we need to pay attention.

Here are five warning signs of mental illness to watch for especially when you have two or more of these symptoms.

  1. Long-lasting sadness or irritability
  2. Extremely high and low moods
  3. Excessive fear, worry, or anxiety
  4. Social withdrawal
  5. Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits

Keep in mind that depression can include anxiety symptoms, and when combined with an extreme shift in moods, then bipolar disorder is further evaluated.  There are many other self-report mental health screening tools which you may consider, i.e., PBHCI – Mental Health Screening.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness(NAMI) which is based in the United States, each illness has its own set of symptoms, some combined, but here are some other common warning signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents.

  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality)
  • Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (” lack of insight” or anosognosia)
  • Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance

The good news is that you can go to your primary care provider and be prepared to talk about any of the symptoms you have been experiencing.

Please also read our follow-up article on the “The stigma of mental illness is one of the major challenges we continue to face today”


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The Optima Psychiatric Hospital, a healing centre, situated in the Bloemfontein suburb, Hospitaalpark, accommodating 76 patients and is operated by a company consisting of nine partners, all Psychiatrists.

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