Recognize signs, symptoms of emotional distress

I’m still on the September is National Recovery Month gig. We have plenty to share, so let’s get to it.

Mental illness and substance abuse disorders can occur separately or as a “co-occurring” disorder (both at the same time). Will you be able to recognize the signs – how would you know? The following signs and symptoms could be attributable to a mental illness but also may indicate other problems such as a substance abuse disorder:

Young children: Changes in school performance; poor grades despite strong efforts; excessive worry or anxiety; hyperactivity; persistent nightmares; continual disobedience or aggression; and frequent temper tantrums.

Pre-adolescents: Inability to cope with problems and daily activities; changes in sleeping and/or eating habits; excessive complaints of physical ailments; defiance of authority; theft and/or vandalism; intense fear of weight gain; prolonged negative mood often accompanied by poor appetite or thoughts of death; and frequent outburst of anger.

Adolescents: Feeling of sadness, hopelessness or worthlessness; prolonged grief after a loss or death; excessive feelings of anger or worry; alcohol or drug use; exercising, dieting or binge-eating obsessively; hurting others or destroying property; doing reckless things that may result in self-harm or harm to others.

Other signs that may be unique to substance abuse include bloodshot eyes or dilated pupils; slurred speech or disappearing money, valuables or prescriptions from your home.

A host of reasons exist that a child, teenager or young adult may be experiencing these symptoms other than mental illness or substance abuse. Observe for a week and then seek help. More on that next week!

The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties is committed to sharing information and resources for better mental health and the prevention of substance abuse. It now has a website,, and you can like us on Facebook by clicking the Facebook link on the website.

If you would like more information, please call the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot Counties at (419) 448-0640 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays. The board’s hotline is available 24/7 at (800) 826-1306.

Nancy Cochran,

executive director