What are the early signs of mental disorders?
Q: What are the early signs of mental disorders?
A: A mental or behavioural disorder is characterized by a disturbance in thinking, mood, or behaviour, which is out of keeping with cultural beliefs and norms. In most cases the symptoms are associated with distress and interference with personal functions.
Mental disorders produce symptoms that sufferers or those close to them notice. These may include:
- physical symptoms (e.g. aches and sleep disturbance)
- emotional symptoms (e.g. feeling sad, scared, or anxious)
- cognitive symptoms (e.g. difficulty thinking clearly, abnormal beliefs, memory disturbance)
- behavioural symptoms (e.g. behaving in an aggressive manner, inability to perform routine daily functions, excessive use of substances)
- perceptual symptoms (e.g. seeing or hearing things that others cannot).
Specific early signs vary from disorder to disorder. People who experience one or more of the symptoms listed above are encouraged to seek professional help if the symptoms persist, cause significant distress, or interfere with tasks of day-to-day living.
Examples of mental disorders include depression, substance abuse, schizophrenia, mental retardation, childhood autism, and dementia. They can occur in men and women of any age and in all races and ethnic groups. Although the causes of many mental disorders are not fully understood, they are thought to be influenced by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors such as stressful life events, a difficult family background, brain diseases, heredity or genes, and medical problems. In most cases mental disorders can be diagnosed and treated effectively.