It is sometimes very hard to pinpoint what makes a mentally ill patient be referred to as such, especially when such a person is a close family member. Mental disorders sometimes come out as odd behaviors and psychological states that you may not be prepared to call mental illness just yet. Mental health symptoms indicative of an illness are sometimes impossible to identify when a loved one is the patient. Indeed, the conventional definition of mental disorders is as a behavioral or psychological pattern that is closely associated with disability or distress occurring in an individual and which is not accepted as part of the normal culture or human development.
That definition leaves a lot of room for almost everyone to qualify as mentally ill at one time or the other. It does not even help to pinpoint the specific adverse mental health symptoms that we can use to qualify your brother, sister, parent, cousin or friend as a mentally ill individual. It is on this basis that experts have come up with numerous criteria of defining, assessing and treating a host of mental disorders with less than a standard criterion of classifying which mental health symptoms one can use to categorize the patients in one disorder or the other.
It does not help or make it easier to determine when a loved one is mentally ill when mental disorders are simply conceptualized as brain circuits disorders caused by faulty developmental processes or complex interplay of experience and genetics. Mental health symptoms are in most cases a product whose genetics are the genetics of human brain development differing across individuals depending on their environmental and biological contexts.
There are however some symptoms that one should note when any of their loved ones is indicative of having a mental illness. The mental health symptoms that indicate cases of mental illness are ideally categorized into six groups namely those related to socializing, thinking, feeling, functioning, self-care and family relations. To begin with, there are those mental health symptoms that indicate psychological disorders namely, difficulty thinking, abnormal socializing, poor social functioning, acute depression and post traumatic stress. The problem is that these are actually symptoms of a psychological disorder and not necessarily indicative of mental illnesses. It is when the symptoms get very severe and are compounded simultaneously (not when they occur in isolation) that an individual can be classified as mentally ill.
Problems that concern thinking as a symptom of mental illnesses include poor concentrating and ease of distraction, poor recall and remembrance, evident confusion in processing information, inability to solve simple problems and inability to think abstractedly. Problem that concern feeling as a symptom of mental illnesses include, decreased appetite, lack of sleep, weight loss, intrusive suicide and death thoughts inability to make concentrate and decisions, feeling worthless, helpless and hopeless, feeling overly guilty for minor things and the loss of interest in formerly pleasurable things.
Problems with social and family relations and functioning as adverse mental health symptoms indicative of an illness include bipolar mania signs such as being overly confident about talents, abilities, appearance or wealth, having excessive energy and little sleep, being irritable most of the time, extreme mood swings without any provocation, speaking very fast incoherently, being easily angered, being verbally and even physically aggressive, being abnormally excited, euphoric and disruptive to others.Other anxiety symptoms that may also indicate a mental disorder include being over-alert most of the time, avoiding normal activities, performing ritualistic and repeated behaviors, frequent upsetting and even intrusive memories as well as nightmares from past events etc. These are not exhaustive symptoms that indicate mental illness. But they can be used as a pointer in assessing loved ones whether deserving a mental evaluation by an expert.