Knowing Your Early Mental Health Warning Signs

May 14, 2013 Becky Oberg

I have two mental health warning signs that alert me to psychiatric danger. Each one serves to warn me what type of danger I'll be in. Knowing these "early warning signs" is crucial to surviving my Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis.

The mental health warning signs

One early mental health warning sign warns that I am becoming psychotic. This is embarrassing to admit, but I take on wolf-like traits. Clothes become uncomfortable, so I strip down to nothing. I want to wear skin-tight fur. I howl at night. I visualize myself as a large grey wolf. I crave blood. This eventually climaxes in a visit to the psychiatric ward of one of the local hospitals. Fortunately, I'm usually able to recognize the problem when I get the urge to get naked and howl. This, in turn, allows me to get in touch with my treatment team and avoid a break with reality and its subsequent consequences.

Another early warning sign warns that I am becoming depressed. My youngest brother, Tim, said he knew I was about to be hospitalized by where I was in my cycle of depression. "You get out and you feel better, so you look for work. You can't find a job, and you get depressed. You want to escape your depression, so you play video games all the time and you sleep on the couch. Then you go back into the hospital and it starts all over again." Consequently, I know to be alert when I'm playing lots of video games. This helps me know to contact my treatment team and prevents the depression from becoming too severe.

How to identify your mental health warning signs

I'm Blogging for Mental Health.I learned my first mental health warning sign through experience. The fact that the delusions were usually the same each time eventually enabled me to recognize I was losing control. I knew the warning signs because it was familiar territory.

The second warning sign, the excessive gaming and sleeping on the couch, was observed by someone else who had the kindness to tell me. My youngest brother, Tim, who was taking a psychology class at the time, noticed the pattern and told me what he saw. I know the warning signs because someone else has told me.

Either way may work for you. Some warning signs are obvious--thoughts of suicide and homicide are red flags that should always be taken seriously. But what precedes these thoughts? What triggers them? Observe for yourself (keeping a journal is a great idea). Ask those close to you what they see shortly before a psychiatric crisis. Make notes and know what to look out for, whether you observe it in yourself or someone else points it out to you. As the proverb goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

What to do before a psychiatric crisis

Make sure your treatment team knows your early mental health warning signs. This can be vital to preventing a psychiatric crisis. Be open and honest with your treatment team if you or someone close to you observes one of those early warning signs. There's no point in ending up in the hospital if you can avoid it.

Keep frequent tabs on how you really feel. Trust your gut. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't right. This is why clear communication with your treatment team regarding early warning signs is important. It's better to prevent a crisis than survive a crisis.

APA Reference
Oberg, B. (2013, May 14). Knowing Your Early Mental Health Warning Signs, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2022, December 10 from

Author: Becky Oberg

May, 16 2013 at 7:30 pm

This is a poem I wrote, you'll see at once why the wolf trigger resonates
A waxing gibbous moon
warns me of what is due.
A werewolf expected soon.
It carries my mood
out to the wild places.
It is hungry and hair raising,
howls and paces
the length of this room.
How can it rest
when the limbs need to stretch,
a belly full of fire
lust and desire
to roam.
Vision sharp focused.
Hears the pin falling.
Lunar light bathed,
the far side is calling.
It wants no companion,
Lone is it’s name.
Each cycle it stalks here,
alive in my brain.
I have others, particularly the sofa, hardly sleeping, vision getting sharper and more intense and other senses too, feel over loaded and over stimulated, to name a few. am very aware of these triggers as have been asked by my mental health nurse to think about and record. My oldest daughter is very intune and lets me know if I've missed a cue

May, 15 2013 at 5:11 am

What if everyone around you is too selfish to notice when your going under? how do deal with it when your depression is an inconvience to them cuz you cant hold down a job or do the dishes?

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