Symptoms, Signs, & Effects of Mental Health Disorders

Mental health disorders, which are often referred to as mental health concerns or mental illnesses, have a drastic effect on how people think, behave, and feel.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that in the United States each year, mental health disorders affect 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 youths ages 6-17.  

Fortunately, with the right level of support, you can understand your symptoms and significantly improve your quality of life. At CenterPointe Hospital in St. Charles, Missouri, we provide acute inpatient and outpatient support for patients who are living with mental health concerns. 

Signs & Symptoms of Mental Health Disorders

Even though mental illnesses have a different impact on everyone, there are still some typical symptoms of mental health disorders. 

Common mental health disorder signs and symptoms include: 

  • Trouble concentrating 
  • Lack of good sleep 
  • Diminished self-confidence 
  • Feelings of emptiness or hopelessness 
  • Frequent feelings of panic or worry 
  • Fluctuations in weight 
  • Inability to feel joy 
  • Angry outbursts on a regular basis 
  • Headaches or muscle pain 
  • Digestive problems 

Though few people experience all these mental health disorder symptoms, it’s best to reach out for professional help even if you are only struggling with a few of them. By receiving a diagnosis and charting a path forward as soon as possible, you can greatly improve your chances of living a more productive and satisfying life.

Mental Health Disorder Causes & Risk Factors

Experts have not identified a single cause of mental health disorders. Still, there are a number of factors, both biological and environmental, that can increase your risk for developing one of these conditions. 

Causes of and risk factors for mental health disorders include: 

  • Exposure to a traumatic life event 
  • Family history of mental illness 
  • History of alcohol or drug abuse 
  • Experiencing unusually high levels of stress 
  • Being abused or neglected during childhood 
  • Preexisting chronic medical conditions 
  • Inheriting certain genetic features 
  • Loss of a loved one or other major life transitions 

Mental Health Disorder Statistics

NAMI reports that in the U.S., 20% of adults suffer from a mental health disorder and 1 in 20 adults struggle with a severe mental illness each year. 

Other statistics about the prevalence of mental health disorders in the U.S. include: 

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that 25.6% of women received mental healthcare services in 2020, compared with just 14.6% of men. 
  • Women were also more likely to take medication (21.2%) for mental health than men (11.5%) and more likely to receive therapy from a mental health professional (12.1% to 7.9%). 
  • NAMI finds that half of all lifetime mental illnesses begin by age 14 and 75% present symptoms prior to age 24. 
  • Children are more likely than adults to receive mental health treatment. According to the CDC, more than 50% of children ages 3-17 who had a behavioral health disorder in 2016 received treatment, topping out at 78.1% of those who were diagnosed with depression. 

Effects of Mental Health Disorders

When a person doesn’t receive proper treatment, a mental illness can do significant damage to their physical and emotional well-being. While the impact of these concerns varies greatly depending on the person, the most common mental health disorder effects include: 

  • Sense of isolation 
  • Physical health problems due to a lack of self-care 
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors 
  • Financial difficulties 
  • Trouble finding or maintaining employment 
  • Substance use or addiction 
  • Strained relationships with friends or family members 
  • Pervasive thoughts of hopelessness or helplessness 

If you’re willing to take the brave and bold step of reaching out for professional help, you can help stop any negative effects from occurring.  

What Happens if My Mental Health Disorder Symptoms Return?

For a person who is struggling with a mental illness, the path to better health isn’t always linear. As you work toward a brighter future, you may notice that some mental health disorder signs and symptoms have returned. 

Try not to consider this a sign of failure. By applying the skills you acquired during your time at our mental health treatment center, you can prevent these temporary setbacks from becoming long-term roadblocks.  

By keeping in touch with the qualified professionals you worked with, and by utilizing the continuing care resources they provided, you can identify potential obstacles and reduce your levels of stress and anxiety. If you feel like you need additional guidance, don’t be afraid to reach out.

If you’re still frustrated and struggling, you aren’t alone. The team you worked with isn’t just invested in your success during treatment. They want to see you succeed over the long haul and live the more dynamic, fulfilling life you deserve. 

This content was written on behalf of and reviewed by the clinical staff at CenterPointe Hospital.