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Mental Illness: Warning Signs

A person displaying one or more of these warning signs should be evaluated by a psychiatrist or another physician as soon as possible:

  • Marked change in personality or behavior
  • Inability to cope with problems of daily life
  • Strange, unrealistic ideas (delusions) or hallucinations (seeing, hearing, smelling)
  • Excessive anxiety or suspiciousness
  • Prolonged or excessive sadness or apathy (not caring)
  • Marked changes in eating or sleeping habits, or in energy levels and speed of thinking or talking
  • Thinking or talking about suicide
  • Extreme or alternating "highs" and "lows" of mood
  • Abuse of alcohol or drugs
  • Excessive anger, hostility or violent behavior
  • Excessive fear of people, places or events
  • Difficulty with memory and concentration

Additional symtoms in children may include:

  • Regressing to an earlier stage of development (toilet training reversal, increased finger sucking, or crying)
  • Refusal to go to school, talk or play with friends and family, spending excessive time alone or emotionally withdrawn
  • Unusually oppositional, irritable, or impulsive behavior, especially if potentially dangerous (i.e. destructive, violent, or accident-prone)
  • New onset or increased tendency to lie or tell fantastic stories to cover failures and fears, after the age of 5 or 6
  • Reluctance to talk about emotional or physical hurts, injuries
  • Bullying, stealing, fighting, or other anti-social behavior especially after age of 3 of 4
  • Unexplained drop in performance

If You Need Help

If you, a loved one or a friend are experiencing emotional or mental difficulties, you can contact the New Jersey Psychiatric Association, the Medical Society of New Jersey, or your family physician, who can give you the names of several psychiatrists.

NJPA Information & Referral Hotline:
1-800-345-0143 (in NJ only)
1-908-719-2222 (outside NJ)

Select PSYCHIATRIST LOCATOR on the menu at the left to search for a psychiatrist .