It can come to anyone’s mind that how can I know that I myself or someone close to me is having any psychiatric symptom. As we know that psychiatric or mental illnesses have been ignored for so long that most of us are not able to identify the symptoms. Even talking about such things is not considered good. But in current scenario, many people are coming out of this closet and talking about their mental health. More awareness is being spread through different government and non-government agencies. In COVID times, we all hear that general public, health care professionals and frontline workers are facing lot of stress which is affecting their mental health. Now it’s time that we recognize our symptoms and seek a proper professional help.

Basically, we have to see any kind of change in the behavior first. For example, someone who used to be very friendly and outgoing has started talking lesser. Someone who was very well mannered has started getting easily upset and irritable. Someone has started doubting people or events around for no apparent reason, or talking to imaginary people. Anger outbursts and destructiveness can also be the presentation of mental disorders. Some people lose interests in previously pleasurable activities and start feeling easily fatigued. Being restless and excessively worried for small things may also be problematic. Many a times, people start doing same thing again and again like washing hands and utensils, checking door knobs or stove etc., and thus spend a major time of the day in such activities. Sudden extreme restlessness with excessive fear for few minutes can also be a common symptom.

Most of the children are playful and sometimes annoy the parents, which is very normal. But, some children are quite difficult to manage at home or school as they won’t sit at a place for even a small time. They won’t attend to what is being told to them as they get distracted easily. Other children remain in their own imaginary world that don’t make friends or understand the emotions of their parents or siblings. In other cases, children have difficulty understanding things and their development is comparatively slower than other normally growing children. Some children are very irritable and stubborn which makes it difficult for the parents to manage them.

On the other extreme are the old age people who may have difficulty in remembering things. They don’t recognize their relatives or friends as their age progresses. Gradually, they may develop irritability or low mood.

Taking alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, sleeping pills etc has also become a menace for many families. Although these substances cause physical symptoms, they also lead to many psychiatric symptoms already explained before.

This is just about the common symptoms which can be identified if we are aware. There are many more which can be assessed by professionals working in the field of mental health. But still if we are cautious enough, we can get a suspicion of some abnormal phenomenon and seek proper help timely. 

To conclude, I want to tell everyone that these symptoms are pretty common among the general population. The main concern is that they are very frequently ignored and thus progress uncontrollably. Even if they are recognized, the person having those symptoms doesn’t get proper treatment. So, if we want to help our society and our friends and relatives, we must understand that mental illnesses are REAL and POTENTIALLY CURABLE. What is needed is just proper recognition and treatment by professionals trained to manage these illnesses

Dr. Ankit Chaudhary

MBBS, MD (Psychiatry)