Identifying the Patterns of Mental Illness

mentall illness patternsDo you or someone you know exhibit the signs and patterns of a mental illness? Have reoccurring episodes of emotional instability? Have out of control emotional reactions toward certain stimuli or triggers? People can live many years with a mental illness and not know that they have it. Mental illnesses are invisible. You cannot tell by looking at someone, giving them a physical exam or giving them a blood test that they have a mental illness. Signs of mental illness are in a person’s behaviors, and these must be interpreted in order to identify a mental illness. A few of the most common identifiable patterns of mental illness are as follows:

  • Reoccurring episodes of instability. If instability is something reoccurring within a person, meaning it will go away and come back over certain intervals of time, this is a very likely sign of mental illness. For mentally ill people, instability is a way of life rather than a sporadic event. It may be related things that trigger episodes of instability, but it does not have to be.
  • Inappropriate emotional reactions. A trademark of mental illness is emotional reactions that are too extreme for the situation at hand. Mentally ill people fly off the handle in reaction to a number of things that do not warrant as extreme a reaction. If you see this pattern in yourself or a loved one, consider the possibility of mental illness.
  • Wildly fluctuating moods. When a person’s moods jump all over the map, or jump from one extreme to another without warning, this could be a sign of mental illness. An inability to regulate one’s moods is very common among people with a mental illness.
  • Bad decision making. Mental unhealthiness essentially means that a person’s mind does not work right. This almost always goes together with bad decision making, typically the kind that is either reckless and too extreme or disparaging and not extreme enough. Consistent bad decision making can be a sign of mental unhealthiness.
  • Unhealthy behavioral patterns. When a person’s behavior reads as mentally unhealthy in any way, such as consistently incorrect estimations of people or situations, they are a likely candidate for a mental disorder.

Mental Illness; Not an Isolated Incident

reoccurring mental illnessSome people are under the mistaken impression that mental illness takes the form of an isolated incident, and once it is detected, it can be switched off. If only this were the case, many people would have suffered much less. Alas, mental illness is a lifelong, permanent condition that can be managed but never completely eradicated. Depending on the type of mental illness, the person who has it may have to be on medication for life and work against the mental illness daily, or it may be much less severe and they are able to reason their way out of their mental illness symptoms when they arise. Regardless, the symptoms will be reoccurring throughout the person’s entire lifetime. Often, mental illness becomes less severe as the person ages because their body chemistry becomes more level over time. But the mental illness will always be present in some form, and the level of success a person has in managing it will be up to them.

Mental illnesses tend to affect people in a cyclical manner, meaning their symptoms rise and fall over time, and their symptoms are affected by life circumstances and the person’s physical health. Sometimes, the person will be experiencing no symptoms at all. People with mental illnesses can go through periods of feeling totally level and balanced. Sadly, this is not permanent, as chemical brain patterns, thoughts and behaviors of the mental illness will return eventually. This does not mean that the person needs to break into episodes again and again. Many people successfully learn to identify the onset of their episodes and use coping mechanisms to manage them or reverse them. It is impossible to feel no affects at all of a mental illness, but with practice and dedication, a person can become fairly proficient at managing their mental illness.

If a person makes the choice not to manage their symptoms, however, their life and the lives of those they are close to will be considerably more difficult. Their episodes will take them by surprise and they will fall into their mentally unhealthy patterns again and again. Their emotions will be out of control and their ability to cope will be low. As they age, they will likely feel some relief as their body chemistry evens out, but the conscious decision to manage mental illness symptoms can truly go a long way for a person.