Dealing with mental illness takes a true support system. But if you don’t know if you are experiencing mental illness, getting support can be difficult. Unbeknownst to many, there are many ways in which mental illness can manifest itself. It may not look like a psychotic break, a nervous breakdown, or an observation period in a psychiatric ward. Sometimes mental illness will manifest itself in very physical ways that shouldn’t go ignored or overlooked. If you are experiencing troubling symptoms that you or your medical care provider aren’t finding a reasonable explanation for, you may need a second or third opinion. You’ll need to advocate for yourself until you reach clarity and understanding on what’s going on with you. Here are some ways that mental illness manifests for you to consider.

1. Extreme Mood Changes

One of the more common manifestations of mental illness is extreme mood changes. Changes in mood that swing from one end of the spectrum to the other can be a signal of deeper issues. Uncontrollable highs and feelings of euphoria should not go unnoticed. The use of substances can intensify these feelings and catching this early sign can make a big difference in your mental health outcomes. If you struggle with substance abuse and are in need of dual diagnosis treatment, with help, you can get on the road to recovery and begin to live your life again.

2. Aches and Pains

It’s common to experience unexplained aches and pains when you are suffering from a mental illness. The stress that mental illness puts on the body can manifest as headaches or muscle tension or soreness. Many mental health issues correlate to decreased or increased chemical activity in the body. These chemicals are necessary to carry out various processes and to facilitate certain functions, and when they are not in balance or proportion they can affect other areas of the body as well.

3. Increased Stress

Stress is a normal part of being alive. It’s important to remember that all stress isn’t negative. Stress is a change that causes emotional, physical, or psychological strain. A visit from your best friend who lives out of town will elicit a stress response because it requires your body’s attention and action. But when you are suffering from mental illness, you will likely notice more stress as the body begins to produce too much adrenaline and cortisol, two of the more common stress hormones.

4. Change in Sleeping Habits

When you’re going through mental health problems, it’s hard to get enough sleep. Oftentimes, the thoughts are racing or insomnia sets in. It’s hard to maintain a sleep schedule and routine when your mental health is suffering. Sleep disorders are common among those who have a mental health diagnosis.

5. Appetite or Weight Changes

Far too often hormonal and chemical imbalances can occur alongside mental illness and result in appetite and weight changes. There is a proven link between body weight, depression, and anxiety. This could stem from chemical changes in the body, lack of sleep, or just be a coping mechanism. The parts of the brain associated with certain mental illnesses can affect the appetite as well.

If you find yourself or someone you love and care about experiencing any of these symptoms and you’re concerned, it’s time to consult with your healthcare provider and your mental health care provider. It’s easy to pass seemingly minor and unrelated things as just a passing thing, but sometimes they are indicative of larger mental health problems.