How mental illness can affect a person

Mental illness can affect people in many ways but there are some general symptoms you can expect.

Behaviour Mental illness can lead to behaviours that may be quite bizarre and confusing, e.g., a man experiences severe anxiety when his wife leaves the house; a young girl washes her hands 50 times after she touches an object; a young woman has no energy to get out of bed for days at a time.

Thinking Your family member’s thoughts may occur very quickly or slowly, may be poorly organized, confusing, illogical or irrational. You may observe this when your family member talks with others. Difficulty following along with conversations, statements that don’t make sense, and memory problems may be signs of mental illness.

Mood Everyone experiences a variety of moods like feeling down, anxious or excited, and mood changes. With mental illness, however, severe moods and mood changes often cause significant distress over time and reduce a person’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis.

Perception Your family member may experience the world with their senses (vision, smell, taste, touch, hearing) in unusual and/or strange ways, e.g., hearing voices or exaggerated sensitivity to sound.

Social withdrawal With some mental illnesses people begin to withdraw from family and friends. Social activities are dropped and they increase the amount of time they spend alone.