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Signs of Being Mentally Unstable

By Calia Roberts ; Updated July 27, 2017

Mental instability, or mental illness, is a condition that greatly affects a person’s thoughts and behaviors. Individuals who are mentally unstable often experience difficulty coping with the everyday functions, demands and challenges of life. There are several signs and symptoms that indicate a person is suffering from a mental instability. With treatment and care, many individuals are able to learn to cope with mental illness.


Mental illness develops throughout a person’s life, starting with childhood. Oftentimes, treating a mental illness early on results in a more positive outcome. In small children, the signs of mental instability include hyperactivity, anxiety or excessive worry, and recurrent nightmares. In some cases, a child displays behavioral problems such as aggression, disobedience and frequent temper tantrums. A mental instability also affects a child’s grades and social performance in school.


In some cases, a child functions and behaves in a healthy manner during his early years, then display signs of a mental instability development during his pre-adolescent years. A pre-adolescent sometimes suddenly becomes moody, negative, angry, unable to cope with everyday activities or problems, and is suicidal. Typically, these emotional changes occur with outward displays of defiance to authority such as vandalism, theft or truancy. In some cases, a pre-adolescent experiences physical problems such as excessive complaints of ailments and a change in eating or sleeping habits. In other cases, the pre-adolescent also turns to substance abuse.


Mental illness also develops during adulthood. An early sign of mental illness in an adult is the development of prolonged and extreme depression. This depression includes suicidal thoughts, an inability to cope with everyday problems, social withdrawal, extreme highs and lows, dramatic changes in sleeping and eating habits, and excessive anxiety and fear. In some cases, a mentally ill adult experiences hallucinations or delusions. Other signs of a mental instability include substance abuse, anger, confusion, denial and multiple unexplained physical ailments.


Mental instability is treatable. Oftentimes, a person with a mental illness is able to completely recover with treatment. In most cases, however, treatment only improves the condition. For best results, treatment is to begin at the first sign of symptoms of a mental illness. Typically, effective treatment combines psychological therapy with medication.

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