About Mental Illness

Mental illnesses are extremely common. In fact, one in every four people suffer from some form of a mental health disorder every year.

Mental illness may be difficult to detect, however, there are some specific signs and symptoms* to be aware of. There is a wide range of mental illnesses and if someone is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it does not mean that they have a mental illness. If you are concerned for yourself, a loved one, or a friend, encourage them to contact a mental health or medical professional about their symptoms.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, seek help immediately by calling 911 or the Community-Wide Crisis Line at (520) 622-6000.

Signs and Symptoms: Depression
Signs and Symptoms: Anxiety
Signs and Symptoms: Psychosis
Warning Signs: Suicide

Signs and Symptoms: Depression

Sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger, mood swings, lack of emotional responsiveness, feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, irritability

Frequent self-criticism, self-blame, pessimism, impaired memory and concentration, indecisiveness and confusion, tendency to believe others see one in a negative light, thoughts of death and suicide

Crying spells, withdrawal from others, neglect of responsibilities, loss of interest in personal appearance, loss of motivation, slow movement, use of drugs and alcohol

Fatigue, lack of energy, sleeping too much or too little, overeating or loss of appetite, constipation, weight loss or gain, headaches, irregular menstrual cycle, loss of sexual desire, unexplained aches and pains

Signs and Symptoms: Anxiety


  • Cardiovascular: pounding heart, chest pain, rapid heartbeat, blushing
  • Respiratory: fast breathing, shortness of breath
  • Neurological: dizziness, headache, sweating, tingling, numbness
  • Gastrointestinal: choking, dry mouth, stomach pains, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Musculoskeletal: muscle aches and pains (especially neck, shoulders and back), tremors and shaking, inability to relax

Unrealistic or excessive fear and worry (about past and future events), mind racing or going blank, decreased concentration and memory, indecisiveness, irritability, impatience, anger, confusion, restlessness or feeling “on edge” or nervous, fatigue, sleep disturbance, vivid dreams

Avoidance of situations, obsessive or compulsive behavior, distress in social situations, phobic behavior

Signs and Symptoms: Psychosis

Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder are mental disorders in which a person has lost some contact with reality.

  • The person may have severe disturbances in thinking, emotion, and behavior.
  • Psychosis usually occurs in episodes and is not a constant or static condition.
  • Difficulties with concentration or attention
  • Sense of alteration of self, others, or the outside world (e.g., feeling that self or others have changed or are acting different in some way)
  • Odd ideas
  • Unusual perceptual experiences (e.g., a reduction in or greater intensity of smell, sound, or color)
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Social isolation or withdrawal
  • Reduced ability to carry out work and social roles
  • Increased energy and over activity


  • Increased energy and over activity
  • Elated mood
  • Need less sleep than usual
  • Irritability
  • Rapid thinking and speech
  • Lack of inhibitions
  • Grandiose delusions
  • Lack of insight

*Source: Gibb, B. 2011, "Learn About Mental Illness: The Mental Health First Aid Action Plan" pp 11-13.

Warning Signs: Suicide

According to Suicide Awareness Voices of Education, the warning signs of suicide are indicators that a person may be in acute danger and may urgently need help.

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
  • Looking for a way to kill oneself
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
  • Talking about feeling trapped or being in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings.