You are currently viewing Signs of Mental Illness in Young Adults

Signs of Mental Illness in Young Adults

The impact of mental health concerns can vary according to a variety of factors, including an individual’s age and developmental level. In today’s post, we discuss the signs of mental illness among young adults, as well as options for treatment and the risks of not getting proper care.

Signs of Mental Illness in Young Adults

Given the myriad mental health disorders that can affect people in early adulthood, as well as the various ways that these disorders can manifest, it would be virtually impossible to list all the possible signs of mental illness in young adults. 

However, certain symptoms – especially dramatic changes in appearance, behaviors, and thought patterns – are common indicators that an individual may be in crisis.

If you are concerned that a young adult in your life may have developed a mental illness, you may want to keep an eye out for signs such as the following:

Physical Signs

When you think about mental illnesses, physical changes probably aren’t the first symptoms that come to mind. But the following are examples of appearance-related signs that could indicate the presence of a mental health concern:

  • Gaining or losing a noticeable amount of weight
  • Exhibiting drastic changes in energy level
  • Appearing unkempt (which can result from neglecting their appearance and/or hygiene)

Psychological Signs

Regardless of whether or not a person has a mental health disorder, it’s almost impossible to know for sure what someone else is thinking or feeling. To help in this area, certain signs, such as the ones we’ve listed below, can let you know that someone is struggling psychologically:

  • Undergoing dramatic mood swings
  • Having problems focusing or concentrating
  • Becoming more forgetful and more easily distracted
  • Exhibiting poor self-confidence and low self-esteem
  • Claiming to see or hear things that aren’t there (hallucinations)
  • Rigidly clinging to beliefs that have no basis in reality (delusions)
  • Loss of motivation or hope for the future
  • Becoming highly untrustworthy of others, to the point of paranoia

Behavioral Signs

When considering the behavioral signs of mental illness in young adults, it is important to note any changes in how someone has been acting. 

For example, some people sleep a lot, don’t eat very much, and prefer to spend time by themselves. These aren’t necessarily symptoms of a mental illness. However, if someone who typically doesn’t act this way suddenly starts to, that could be a warning sign. 

With that in mind, the following could indicate that a young adult has developed a mental health disorder:

  • Sleeping much more or much less than they used to
  • Eating much more or much less than they used to
  • Frequently missing school or work with no good reason
  • Performing poorly when they do attend school or go to work
  • Failing to pay their bills and take care of other important responsibilities
  • Acting with uncharacteristic recklessness or impulsivity
  • Crying or becoming angry for no apparent reason
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Spending increasing amounts of time alone
  • Abusing alcohol or other drugs
  • Self-harming or suicidal behaviors

Please remember that knowing the signs of mental illness among young adults does not qualify you to diagnose someone with a specific condition. If someone in your life has been exhibiting signs like the ones we’ve listed here, you should encourage them to consult with a qualified healthcare provider. 

Being assessed by a professional and receiving an accurate diagnosis can be two important steps on your loved one’s path toward effective treatment and a healthier future.

Effects of Untreated Mental Illness in Young Adults

In the absence of appropriate care, young adults who have mental health concerns may be in danger of negative effects such as the following:

  • Failing out of school
  • Problems finding and keeping a job
  • Disrupted relationships with friends, family members, and romantic partners
  • Physical injuries due to recklessness, impulsivity, and impaired perceptions
  • Increased likelihood of being swindled or otherwise victimized
  • Elevated risk of substance abuse, addiction, and overdose
  • Inability to establish financial independence
  • Increased reliance on parents, siblings, and/or friends
  • Homelessness
  • Shortened lifespan

Mental Health Treatment Options for Young Adults

When a young adult gets the right type and level of mental health treatment, they may experience a reduction in symptoms and an improved quality of life. The key to this progress is finding a treatment provider whose services align with the individual’s needs, goals, and expectations.

When you’re helping a loved one review their treatment options, two important areas to focus on are levels of care and types of treatment.

Levels of Care

The severity of a young adult’s symptoms typically determine which level of care they start at. For example:

  • At the residential level, a patient will live at the center where they are receiving treatment. This gives them access to round-the-clock supervision and support, as well as full days of structured treatment.
  • In a partial hospitalization program (PHP), a young adult can take part in full days of treatment without a residential requirement. In the evenings and on weekends, they can spend time at home or in a supportive alternative residence.
  • An intensive outpatient program (IOP) offers considerable flexibility, with participants usually attending partial days of treatment a few days each week.

Some young adults begin their mental health treatment experience at the residential level, then step down to a PHP and/or an IOP for additional support as they prepare to transition out of care. Others may only spend time at two or one of these levels. There’s no “right” or “wrong” path – just different paths that work for different people.

Types of Treatment

Within each level of care, a young adult may take part in a variety of therapies and services. The following are examples of the different types of treatment that may be incorporated into a patient’s personalized plan:

Before a young adult transfers out of treatment, they should also receive a discharge plan to support their continued progress.

Find Mental Health Treatment for Young Adults in Nashville

Arbor Wellness is a premier provider of customizable mental health services, with options that include a specialized residential program for young adults. Hallmarks of care at our mental health treatment center in Nashville, Tennessee, include personalized attention, comprehensive support, and an unwavering commitment to patient safety.

If a young adult in your life has been struggling with anxiety, depression, PTSD, or another mental health concern, our team of experienced professionals is here to help. To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Admissions page or call us today.