Recognising early signs of mental illness

Mental illness is something that can consume your day to day life and before long you feel trapped in your illness and you wonder, when did this start? Could I have noticed warning signs of my mental health deteriorating?

It is also useful to keep an eye out for friends and their mental health as it is often really hard to notice your own mental health begin to become a struggle. This post is about some “warning signs” that your mental health may be becoming a problem, or things to look out for in your friends.

Sleeping Pattern

Mental health can impact sleep a lot. If you are sleeping too much or too little this could be a sign that your mental health is becoming a problem. Sleeping too much and still being exhausted is a sign of depression, whilst insomnia and not getting enough sleep is another way your mind could be telling you that your mental health may be getting bad. It is useful to keep a sleep diary to track your sleeping pattern and notice any abnormalities.

Increased Sensitivity

Are you getting emotional over small things? Maybe a friend forgot to reply to your message and this sends you into a paranoid or even argumentative phase. I know myself that my mental illness means that I am very sensitive to small things that may seem trivial to neurotypical people. 

Memory Problems

Something that I didn’t know that was related to depression was problems with memory. I forget conversations, what I’ve said to people and even really tiny things like birthdays. Although some memory blips are completely normal and nothing to worry about, if your memory is becoming an issue it is something that you should keep an eye on. It’s often hard to focus on remembering things when your mind is clouded by other worries.

Lack of motivation

Lack of motivation is something that is often labelled as laziness, but this is not the case. When you are feeling low it’s hard getting out of bed, having a shower, going to work. If you notice your friends are losing motivation in day to day situations it would be useful to bring it up with them and see if there’s any way you could help, or if they could do with some professional help.


Isolation is one thing I struggle with a lot. When my friends reach out to me I sometimes find it easier to ignore their message and avoid social situations. Obviously this isn’t good for my mental health but I convince myself that I am a burden on those who are trying to help me. You (and I) need to realise that is not the case and accept the help that friends are trying to give. If you notice a friend is isolating themselves it is important to reach out to them: whether it’s watching films in their house, going out for a coffee or just a supportive text message. Even if they don’t feel up for it, it is so nice knowing that someone cares.

It is so important to look out for early symptoms of mental health problems in both you and your friends as getting help as early as possible is really useful and could stop things from getting worse / out of control. If anyone reading this needs someone to talk to, my messages are always open and you can contact me here or visit my resources page where I have listed helplines, websites and apps that could be of use.

I’ve been nominated for the UK Blog Awards 2019, if you would like you can vote for me here!

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