When Can Mental Illnesses Start?

A girl is sitting on the floor against her bed.

It may come as no surprise that psychologists have shared that knowing the age at which mental illness typically begins allows preventative measures to be put in place whenever possible. Additionally, it allows therapists, psychologists, and other doctors in the mental wellness field to look out for signs and administer proper treatment to yield the best results for each individual. This post outlines when mental illnesses can start as well as some of the warning signs. The goal is simply to inform you so you’ll know when it’s appropriate to seek out a psychological evaluation and get the best specialized treatment for your needs. 

General Age at Which Mental Illnesses Start

While most mental illnesses start at the age of 14.5 years, there are some cases that start earlier while others start a bit later. However, most people who are bound to experience some type of mental illness will do so well before adulthood, whether they are aware of the specific disorder or not. Early intervention and prevention of mental health issues in adolescents is therefore crucial for good mental health in the long term.

That said, different mental illnesses will often have different ages of onset, with phobias and neurodevelopmental disorders having the earliest age of onset. Personality and mood disorders such as depression have the latest age of onset. However, regardless of the type of mental illness, signs may exist well before the disorder sets in.

Main Signs and Symptoms

Different mental health disorders will have different symptoms, but some are common across various disorders. These include rapid and dramatic mood changes, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, issues with concentration, speech, and memory that cannot be explained, and withdrawal from previously enjoyed interests. Other signs include failing in school or having a lower function in social or work activities, apathy, increased sensitivity, and odd and unusual behaviors.

While one or two of these symptoms aren’t enough to conclude a mental illness, the presence of several of them concurrently is a sound reason to get a psychological evaluation so you can take appropriate preventative measures. With a psychological evaluation, our therapists will be able to pinpoint current problems and administer feasible solutions that will work best for you. 

Even if your evaluation determines that you do not have an underlying mental illness, it may help you identify triggers in your life that may elicit similar symptoms. These triggers can include stress at work or home, and/or an underlying medical condition that should be diagnosed by a doctor. On the other hand, if your evaluation determines the specific mental health problem you face, you will work with a certified therapist to implement effective measures that will help you improve your mental wellness. 

If you have any suspicions of a potential mental illness, we encourage you to reach out to us today. We will help you schedule an appointment, and our certified therapists will help get to the bottom of the issue and administer the best treatment plan for you. You may give us a call or fill out the form on our website.