FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- May is mental health awareness month. Although mental illnesses are very widespread and common, many people believe it's not something that will effect them.
About 54 million Americans suffer from some type of mental disorder that causes a severe disturbance in thought or behavior. Detecting if someone is suffering from a mental illness can be difficult, but doctors said there are many ways you can spot if someone you love is suffering from a mental disorder, whether it be psychological or emotional.
Signs for adults include:
- Social withdrawal
- Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Lack of motivation
Signs for children or teens include:
- Changes in school performance
- Substance use
- Worrying excessively or high anxiety
- Not able to manage responsibilities
Some of the most common signs are not wanting to hang out with friends anymore or getting so nervous they have panic attacks.
"These types of things impact your day to day function," said Dr. Kristi Kindrick, medical director of senior care at Sparks Hospital. "When your function declines, people notice that."
There are more than 200 forms of mental illness that can also affect your physical health, causing fatigue, obesity, nausea, and even sinus problems.
Local doctors recommend people who have a mental disorder search for help.
"It can be difficult to get in to see a mental health provider, and so reaching out to your pediatrician or your primary care doctor might be the first step someone takes," Kindrick said.
Kindrick said some people can resolve problems on their own just from the support of family, friends or church. However, there is a percentage of men and women who won't get better on their own and will need to seek professional counseling.
During the month of May, you can support people suffering from mental disorders by wearing the color green.