Early Signs of Mental Illness

Learn to recognize the early warning signs of mental illness.


Dr. Barbara Cornblatt, Ph.D., is a professor of psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and the wife of a Dr. Phil Advisory Board member, Dr. Lonnie Sherrod, Ph.D. As the director of the Recognition and Prevention Program (RAP), a specialty program aimed at identifying and treating adolescents and young adults with early signs of mental illness, she has created the following list of behaviors that could indicate that your child is at risk or in the early stages of schizophrenia.

People at risk often show behaviors such as:

• Withdrawing from friends and family
• Preferring to be alone
• A drop in school performance
• Seeming less motivated
• Appearing depressed
• A reduced ability to concentrate
• Changes in sleep or energy level
• Increased anxiety or agitation
• Irritability
• Moodiness


Other behaviors of particular concern are:

• Mistrustfulness or suspiciousness
• Changes in personal hygiene
• Emotions that do not fit the situation
• Vague speech
• Speech sometimes doesn't make sense
• Unusual ideas or beliefs
• Unusual experiences

If either you or your son or daughter is experiencing any of the behavior changes listed above, seek professional help. For more information, contact the following organizations:

American Psychological Association



American Psychiatric Association