When Do Symptoms of Mental Illness Typically Arise?

Mental illnesses can affect us at any age, and may be brought on by a variety of factors: genetics, personality, environmental cues, substance abuse, and more. While anyone at any age can experience mental illness, there are certain periods of our lives that we may notice warning signs more prominently than other times. A 2017 study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry states that, for instance, mood and anxiety disorders typically experience an earlier average onset of symptoms than other medical conditions. The age at which you noticed symptoms of a mental illness can help you make sense of your lived experiences so that you can move forward with your journey to recovery.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that half of all chronic mental illnesses begin developing by age 14, and three-quarters develop by age 24. Despite the emergence of symptoms that can have a significant effect on school, work, family, and social interactions, a long gap of time can occur before a person seeks help. Why is this?

  • They may not fully realize that a mental illness is developing
  • They may feel that treatment is not needed or that the mental illness will “go away” on its own
  • They may be in denial
  • They may not be aware of resources that could be used to help them manage their symptoms
  • They may not have the support they need to seek treatment

If you believe that you or your child may be developing a mental illness, the American Psychological Association (APA) lists several warning signs to look out for:

  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • An unusual drop in functioning in activities that one usually participates in
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Difficulty thinking, disorganized speech, feeling disconnected
  • Nervousness, mood changes, and other unusual behavior

Treatment for mental illness is possible. If you haven’t already, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center to learn more about options to best suit your needs. Don’t give up.

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