What Are the First Signs of Going Crazy?

Reviewed on 7/8/2021
first signs of going crazy
How do you know if you’re going crazy? It’s important to identify the warning signs and seek help early on

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to determine whether certain behaviors are a sign of mental illness. However, people who feel they are going crazy often have one thing in common: something feels amiss.

Mental health problems are common, with about 1 in 5 in the U.S. experiencing at least one throughout their lives. With the ongoing pandemic in many parts of the world, many have also dealt with increasing stress

If you feel that you are unraveling, it’s important to seek help early on. Here are some warning signs to look out for, and when to talk to a mental health professional.

Warning signs of mental illness in adults

Each mental illness has its own set of symptoms, and these symptoms may vary depending on the person. However, common signs of mental illness in adults include the following: 

  • Excessive fear or extreme feelings of guilt
  • Chronic sadness or irritability
  • Obsession with certain thoughts, people or things
  • Confused thinking or problems with concentrating
  • Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia
  • Inability to cope with daily problems in a healthy manner
  • Frequent episodes of rage, panic, crying, or deep disappointment
  • Problems with alcohol or drug use
  • Major changes in eating habits
  • Sex drive changes (loss of sex drive, hypersexuality, high-risk behavior)
  • Excessive hostility or violent impulses
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Inability to perceive changes in one’s feelings, behavior, or personality
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities that once brought them joy
  • Low energy or problems sleeping
  • Unusual, intense feelings or no feelings at all
  • Loss of initiative or desire to participate
  • Intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance
  • Frequent lapses in memory 
  • Seeing or hearing things that other people can’t
  • Frequent, vague physical ailments with no obvious cause (headaches, stomach aches)

Warning signs of mental illness in children

Because children are still learning how to identify and express their thoughts and emotions, signs of mental illness often revolve around behavior. Symptoms may include:

  • Changes in school performance
  • Frequent nightmares
  • Frequent disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Excessive worry or anxiety 
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Regression of milestones, such as sudden bed-wetting

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What are the complications of mental health problems?

Untreated mental illness can cause severe emotional, behavioral, and physical health problems. Some of the complications include:

When to seek help

If you think you have signs of a mental illness, contact your physician or a mental health professional. Mental illness, if left untreated, can get worse over time and cause serious problems. 

If you think you may hurt yourself or are having suicidal thoughts, get help right away by calling:

  • 911 or your local emergency number
  • Mental health specialist
  • Suicide hotline number
  • Your close friend or loved one
  • Minister, spiritual leader, or someone else in your community whom you can trust

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References
Mayo Clinic. Mental Illness. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mental-illness/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20374974

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Mental Health Myths and Facts. https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/mental-health-myths-facts

NAMI. Warning Signs and Symptoms. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Warning-Signs-and-Symptoms

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