Symptoms of mental illnesses in different life phases

, Wellness

Mental illness is literally one of the most underrated human conditions especially in India. That possibly could also be because it is directly compared to physical conditions that are in plenty, the suffering of which is more visible and felt to others around as well. I’ve spoken about mental illnesses through other articles and thrown in the latest statistics as well so that you have a clear idea of the reality and the urgency of addressing this issue. Let’s get this clear again, it is natural and your loved one isn’t “mad” or “abnormal” if he/she is unfortunately suffering from any form of it irrespective of the societal perceptions regarding the same.

Let’s have a look at some common symptoms of mental conditions that need to be addressed with love and care, in different phases of human life.


In young children:

Please note that if your child is showing these signs, it doesn’t necessarily indicate a mental condition, it could so be that your child just needs a little more of your time, love and undivided attention.

  • Sudden changes in performance at school
  • Significant changes in eating habits along with/or sleeping habits
  • Poor grades despite very strong efforts (efforts of the child in this case)
  • Anxiety or feelings of worry beyond what is natural to children
  • Frequent temper issues along with/or temper tantrums
  • Persistent or frequent nightmares that scare the child out of sleep
  • Persistent aggression and/or disobedience (not to be confused with mischief or naughtiness)


In pre-adolescents and elder children:

Again, in this phase they experience bodily and hormonal changes with a widening thought process so these symptoms shouldn’t be confused with the normal behavioural patterns of children. It’s important to assure kids in this phase that you’re there to listen them out.


  • Significantly negative thoughts and mood accompanied by lack of appetite and maybe even suicidal thoughts
  • Excessive complaints by them of physical ailments that may or may not exist
  • Indulging in theft or vandalism as a way of rebel or defiance of authority
  • Substance use and abuse
  • Very frequent anger outbursts
  • Significant changes in management of responsibilities in a negative way either at home or in school
  • Coping problems with daily activities, small issues and regular routine
  • Intense fear of just about anything, mostly irrational to a neutral person


In adolescents, young adults and adults

Yet again these shouldn’t be confused with regular behavioural patterns owed to hormonal, bodily and life changes.

  • Prolonged sadness, irritable feelings or depression
  • Strong feelings of hatred and anger with or without sudden outbursts
  • Suicidal thoughts and tendencies
  • Delusional thinking and beliefs (let’s not get controversial and talk about religion here)
  • Substance use and abuse
  • Extreme highs and lows in terms of feelings
  • Isolation and social withdrawal without strong reason
  • Sleeplessness or changes in sleeping patterns and eating habits (Not referring to voluntary changes of course!)
  • Hallucinations
  • Strong anxiety and worry that could be avoided
  • Increasing lack of ability in coping with daily routine, solving issues and regular activities
  • Severe confusion of thought



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