Mental Health Warning Signs: A List of 43 to Recognize
You're on Thin Ice When You Notice Warning Signs
The Importance of Knowing Warning Signs
Recognizing warning signs is one of the most important steps in managing mental wellness. Knowing your own personal and specific signs and symptoms gives you a chance to catch what could become a crisis situation before it gets unmanageable.
Knowing your warning signs could mean the difference between managing your illness outside the hospital and having to be stabilized in the hospital. It could mean the difference between keeping yourself safe and self injuring. It could be the difference between having a psychotic break and staying stable.
The recovery process will include ups and downs, but wellness can be achieved by smoothing out the challenging times with coping skills and supportive strengths.
Many Signs to Recognize
List of Warning Signs
This is a list of mental health warning signs. As you read through this list, you can make note of those that occur leading up to a crisis.
Think back to the times that you have required the highest level of treatment due to a crisis. Some of these warning signs may have happened before things totally fell apart for you. These include emotional, mental, and behavioral warning signs.
- Anxiety and Fears
- Appetite Changes
- Arguing Frequently
- Becoming Obsessed with Something Trivial
- Being Uncaring, Aggressive, or Pushy
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Drinking or Using Drugs More than Usual
- Eating Too Much or Too Little
- Feeling Discouraged about the Future
- Feeling Guilty or Ashamed
- Feeling Needy
- Feeling Unconnected to My Body
- Feeling Slowed Down or Sped Up
- Feeling Worthless, Lost, or Depressed
- Feeling Too Excited
- Feeling that Others are Trying to Hurt You
- Frequent Aches or Pains
- Having Bad Dreams
- Having Trouble Making Decisions
- Inability to Experience Pleasure
- Irrational Thought Patterns
- Isolating or Avoiding Others
- Lack of Motivation
- Loss of Interest in Appearance
- Losing Interest in Doing Things
- Losing or Gaining a lot of Weight
- Missing Appointments
- Mood Changes
- Neglecting Children or Pets
- People Telling You that They are Concerned
- Preoccupation with Sexual Thoughts
- Problems with Police
- Racing Thoughts
- Seeing or Hearing Things Other Don’t
- Sleeping Too Much or Too Little
- Stop Taking Medications
- Thoughts of Hurting Self or Others
- Unwanted Thoughts
Early Warning Signs Help Prevention of Crisis Events
Early Vs. Late Warning Signs
Picture a car coming up to a cliff with early and later warning signs. Some warning signs may come way before any real dangerous situations, while others happen just before a crisis event.
Think about the severity of the symptoms or behaviors. Usually the more disruption a warning sign causes means the later that warning sign happens. The benefit of early warning signs is that, if caught early and acted upon, much of the distress of later warning signs can be avoided or managed more safely.
Examples of Early Vs. Late Warning Signs
Early Warning Signs
Late Warning Signs
Problems with Police
Neglecting Children or Pets
Stop Taking Medicine
Which Should You Focus on?
Which is more important to recognize?
Have a Plan in Place
Create a Safety Plan for Your Warning Signs
Once you have come to recognize your warning signs, the next step is to put a safety plan into place. This safety plan should take into account your specific needs. It should involve getting help from at least one other trusted person. And it should be very direct and specific.
Choose from a long list of coping skills that can help with depression, anger, addiction, or other distressing and potentially crisis producing mental health issues. Make a plan that can be executed in an emergency with only a few steps. Here's an example:
1. Call my support person ___________.
2. Arrange the get help with my daily responsibilities.
3. Call and schedule an appointment with my doctor or therapist to report the changes I'm noticing and any medication issues I'm having.
Once you have a short-term emergency plan in place. You can strategize for the long-term by building specific activities into your day that will help you maintain your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Also develop a plan to help you learn more through mental health group education. Many group therapy topics such as improving communication through assertiveness can help you learn to manage stress.