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At What Age Does Mental Illness Start?

At what age does mental illness typically start? There is no straightforward answer to this question, seeing as there are hundreds of variations of mental illness, and the development of each mental illness is unique. However, there have been some similarities in the age of onset regarding certain mental health concerns. For example, those who suffer from attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are most often diagnosed during childhood.

At What Age Does Mental Illness Start?

Mental Illness in Teens and Children

Studies show that generally speaking, about one-third of people who currently have a mental illness was diagnosed before 13 or 14. Nearly half were diagnosed before the age of 18, and only a small percentage were diagnosed later on in life. However, suppose a person develops a mental illness later on in life. In that case, it is often a situational mental illness (like a bout of depression following the loss of a loved one) or postpartum depression. According to the American Psychiatric Association, major mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and schizophrenia do not simply appear overnight. In most cases, some telltale signs and symptoms crop up throughout adolescence.

Certain Risk Factors Increase The Likelihood of Developing a Mental Illness Over Time

In addition, certain risk factors increase the likelihood of developing a mental illness over time. Some of these risk factors can occur at any age, like undergoing a traumatic experience or experiencing persistently high stress levels (due to a demanding career, for example). Others are unavoidable, like genetic predisposition. Suppose a person is genetically predisposed to mental illness. In that case, there is no way to avoid it — of course, the mental illness can still be effectively treated, and the warning signs are often caught earlier on. At Evoke Wellness, we treat mental illness and substance abuse as part of our dual diagnosis program. Contact us today to learn more.

More on the Onset of Mental Illnesses and Treatment for Mental Health Problems

Several warning signs could be indicative of the development of a mental illness. If a person does start to exhibit these warning signs, they must be treated as soon as possible. Like other chronic conditions, mental illnesses can easily worsen in severity the longer they are left untreated. The American Psychiatric Association suggests that if a person is experiencing any of the following symptoms, they check in with a mental health professional to catch a mental illness before it progresses. Warning signs to keep an eye out for include:

  • Disrupted sleep patterns/sleeping long hours or seeming to sleep very little and stay awake late into the night.
  • Changes to eating patterns, which might lead to noticeable weight loss or weight gain.
  • Changes to mood, which might be characterized by periods of excitability and sociability followed by periods of malaise.
  • Withdrawal from friends, family members, and previously enjoyed activities/spending time alone and isolated.
  • Increased sensitivity to light, sound, and other external stimuli.
  • Issues with cognitive functioning might look like problems paying attention and an inability to stay focused for extended periods.
  • Exhibiting apathy when an emotional response is warranted.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or someone you love is acting out of character, there is no harm in reaching out for a professional opinion. At Evoke Wellness, we are always available to answer any questions you have and to help point you in the right direction.

Evoke Wellness and Mental Health Recovery

Because addiction is characterized as a brain disease, it makes sense that it would also be considered a mental illness. While people who struggle with addiction are not considered “mentally ill,” there are many of the same risk factors present for developing both addiction and mental illness, and many of the symptoms present themselves similarly. If you are looking for a reputable dual diagnosis treatment program, we have you covered. Simply contact us today to learn more.