Physical Symptoms of Mental Disorders

Physical Symptoms of Mental Disorders

A mental disorder is a condition that affects an individual’s thinking, emotions, attitude, and behavior (American Psychiatric Association, 2015). Mental illnesses can be occasional or chronic. The condition interferes with a person’s ability to interact with others. The discussion in the paper will be based on the physical symptoms of mental disorders.

General information

There are several mental conditions with varying presentation. They are distinguished by a mixture of irregular thoughts, feelings, attitudes, experiences, and perceptions. Examples of Mental disorders are; depression, Schizophrenia, dementia, eating disorders, personality disorders, bipolar disorders, and developmental disorders like autism (American Psychiatric Association, 2015). There are various causes of mental disorders. They include genetics or family history of mental disorders, traumatic brain injuries, chemical imbalances in the brain, and severe illnesses like cancers. Individual’s life experiences can also cause mental disorders. Experiences like stress, childhood abuse, being isolated or having few or no friends. Substance abuse, like hard drugs and excessive alcohol consumption, can also cause mental disorders. Pregnant women exposed to toxic chemicals can give birth to children who are at risk of getting mental disorders.

Mental health or mental illness are defined not only by individual traits such as the ability to control one’s emotions, feelings, attitude, and relationships with others. They can also be determined by social, cultural, political, economic, and environmental influences like support from the community and ways of living. A detailed medical history is obtained to diagnose mental disorders; psychological assessment, physical examination, and lab tests may also be required. Treatment for mental disorders may vary depending on the specific mental illness. It may include medication, brain stimulation treatments, and psychiatric counselling (American Psychiatric Association, 2015). In all countries of the world, the mental illness issue continues to rise with substantial impacts on health and significant social, human rights, and economic implications.

Physical symptoms of mental disorders

When people hear about mental disorders, they think that they only affect a person emotionally or psychologically. But that’s not the case; mental disorders also affect a person physically. Below are the physical symptoms associated with various mental disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 2015).

Physical symptoms in Schizophrenia. 

  • Catatonia

            This symptom is commonly seen in individuals with Schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a mental illness in which individuals perceive facts abnormally. The mental disorder can lead to delusions, hallucinations, and severely disorderly thoughts and habits that interfere with daily functioning. Individuals with Schizophrenia need medication for a lifetime. Until significant problems arise, early care may help control the symptoms and boost long term outlook. Individuals with catatonia may appear immobilized (Willison and Bush, 2017). This symptom can happen in response to or stand-alone symptoms of the voices they hear.

  • Disorganized speech.

This physical symptom is also associated with Schizophrenia. Individuals may also stop speaking mid-sentence only to continue speaking on a different topic. The disorder can make a person have difficulties in concentrating and maintaining their thoughts (Willison and Bush, 2017). These can be expressed in how a person speaks. An individual can give a response, yet it is not related to the question. They can even talk incoherently and speak words that are not logical.

  • Poor grooming

Individuals with Schizophrenia may not be well-groomed on appearance. They may look unkempt and dirty. Most of them do not concentrate on their physical cleanliness or physical looks. They may fail to engage in simple personal hygiene habits like brushing the teeth (Willison and Bush, 2017).

Sleep issues

There might be changes in sleep patterns. Schizophrenia may cause sleep disturbances. Individuals may not sleep or may sleep for long (Willison and Bush, 2017). It may be due to psychotic symptoms or anxiety issues.

  • Fatigue

Patients with Schizophrenia may complain of exhaustion all the time. Fatigue may worsen the symptoms of Schizophrenia (Willison and Bush, 2017). Patients may feel tired even after having a rest.


Patients with Schizophrenia may complain of frequent headaches (Willison and Bush, 2017). Headaches can be severe that they interfere with their daily lives.

Digestive issues

Increased rates of co-occurring disorders, including appendicitis, gastric ulcers, and I.B.S., can be seen in individuals with Schizophrenia (Willison and Bush, 2017).

Physical symptoms of depression


It is a common physical symptom of depression. Although sometimes we assume exhaustion comes from stress, fatigue can also be caused by depression (Greenblatt and Lee, 2019). However, fatigue brought about by depression can cause attention issues, feeling of irritability, and apathy, unlike in normal fatigue. Depressed individuals may experience non-restorative sleep; this means those individuals feel tired even after getting enough sleep or rest. Not only is fatigue one of the most prominent physical symptoms of depression, but it continues to be one of the most difficult to treat. Eighty percent of individuals on antidepressants may also experience fatigue (Greenblatt and Lee, 2019).

2.Decreased pain tolerance

Depressed individuals may not tolerate pain or control themselves from pain. They frequently complain of severe distress (Greenblatt and Lee, 2019).

3.Sleep issues

Depression may lead to trouble falling asleep or remaining asleep (Greenblatt and Lee, 2019). Depressed patients may be unable to sleep at night, probably because their brain is affected. Patients tend to remain awake, or when asleep, they may not remain asleep; they have to wake up.

4.Chest pain

Depressed individuals may have chest pains. These symptoms may be due to an issue with the heart, stomach, or lungs. Therefore, depressed patients must see a doctor to rule out any severe complications. Depression can also increase the risk of heart disease. But chest pain can be experienced in depression (Greenblatt and Lee, 2019).

5.Back pain or muscle pains

Individuals with depression have a higher chance of getting back and muscle pains than normal individuals. Mental health professionals believe that mental disorders can cause chronic pains and aches (Gask et al., 2018). The details of the relation between depression and the inflammatory response of the body are still being studied.


Headache is also a physical symptom of depression. Depression related headaches do not inherently affect an individual’s performance, unlike the severe pain in migraine headaches. Research indicates that individuals with major depression are three times more likely to get headaches, and individuals with migraines are five times more likely to get depressed (Greenblatt and Lee, 2019). Although over the counter pain medication helps with depression headache, they usually reoccur frequently. Chronic stress headaches can also be a physical symptom of major depressive mental disorder.

7.Eye issues or decreased vision

Depressed individuals may not be able to distinguish between white and black. It can be described as a contrast perception by psychologists. It also explains why depression can make the world look hazy.

8.Abdominal pains or uneasiness in the abdomen.

One of the most recognizable symptoms of depression is a sinking feeling in the stomach. Pain can be worse when stress arises in a depressed person. Abdominal cramps, nausea, and bloating may be symptoms of depression (Gask et al., 2018). Depression can cause inflammation in the digestive system, and the pain can be mistaken for other abdominal diseases like IBD or I.B.S.

9.Digestive issues

Depression can cause digestive problems like diarrhea or constipation. Weight and appetite changes; Depression can make individuals feel like eating more or eating less than expected. Depressed individuals may also complain of weight loss, and they usually don’t understand why. Easting excessively can make depressed individuals add weight. On the other hand, eating less can cause depressed individuals to lose weight (Greenblatt and Lee, 2019).

10.Sexual issues

Depressed individuals may tend to lose interest in sex. It may be due to emotional problems like a lack of confidence or physical issues like fatigue (Greenblatt and Lee, 2019). Besides, antidepressant medication may also lower a person’s sexual drive.

11.Menstrual changes

In females, the menstrual cycle may change. The disorder may interfere with female hormones leading to these alterations. Some depressed women may even fail to experience menstruation completely (Greenblatt and Lee, 2019).

12.Changes in speech and walking

Depressed patients may speak slowly than usual or walk around slowly than expected. This is because part of their brain is affected, leading to these changes (Greenblatt and Lee, 2019).

  1. Low immunity

Depression can lower an individual’s immune system, and they may function less. They also tend to get sick often. Low immunity in depression makes patients take a long time before getting well since their immunity is compromised (Greenblatt and Lee, 2019). Patients are more prone to diseases since their bodies cannot fight back illnesses.

Physical symptoms of dementia

  • Sleep problems

Individuals with dementia, especially in the later stages, tend to sleep a lot. The patients can sleep throughout the day and also at night. It can be stressful for those around them as they feel like something is not okay. As dementia progresses, the affected individual’s brain damage becomes more severe, and they continue to become weaker and frail with time (Budson and Solomon, 2015).

  • Fatigue      

Fatigue is another physical symptom of dementia; patients who have dementia are always exhausted. They tend to feel tired all the time. As a result, it can be very exhausting for an individual with dementia to perform relatively simple things like talking, resting, or even understanding what is happening in their surroundings (Budson and Solomon, 2015).

  • Inability to walk correctly

Dementia can affect the brain’s area responsible for motion and equilibrium (Budson and Solomon, 2015). Most people affected by dementia increasingly lose the ability to walk and perform daily tasks.

  • Stiff muscles

People with dementia may develop muscle stiffness, resulting in an inability to move the muscles due to pain (Budson and Solomon, 2015).

  • Difficulties in controlling the bladder and bowel

Most individuals may experience bladder and bowel control in the later stages of dementia. Most patients are unable to move fast; therefore, they end up urinating on themselves.

  • Seizures and twitches

Seizures and twitches are also physical symptoms of dementia. The proteins that build up in the brain of individuals with dementia may influence how the brain’s nerve cells interact with each other. The nerves can get hyper-excitable often, which means that they can function uncontrollably, triggering epileptic seizures (Budson and Solomon, 2015).

Physical symptoms of eating disorders

  • Hair loss 

Hair loss is due to poor nutrition and bad eating habits experienced with eating disorders. Poor nutrition causes protein decrease in the body (Gordon-Elliot, 2016). When the reduction happens, the body ensures that it utilizes the remaining protein in other essential areas. Therefore, hair stops growing, and it may eventually lead to hair loss.

  • Skin dryness

Eating disorders can be associated with dry skin. The individual suffering from it lacks healthy diets and does not take enough water (Gordon-Elliot, 2016). Hence the skin ends up drying. Skin dryness can also make the skin crack leading to pain.

  • Extreme low body weight

Individuals tend to lose weight because they frequently skip meals, and in some other instances, they may fail to eat food completely. Different people follow strict diet plans that end up making them lose weight (Gordon-Elliot, 2016). Patients suffering from eating disorders tend to have extremely low B.M.I.s. This is because they tend to concentrate on their weight, and they feel as if they are overweight even when they are underweight in the real sense.

  • Loss of muscle and weakness

Due to malnourishment, loss of muscle and body weakness is experienced. Muscle is lost, as there are no essential nutrients to strengthen them (Gordon-Elliot, 2016). Lack of nutrients also prevents the muscles from functioning normally. Lack of essential nutrients in the body also makes an individual body to become weak. Patients suffering from eating disorders tend to suffer from body weakness most of the time. The consequences of muscle loss during recovery will make it harder to build muscles.

  • Weak nails and blue coloration of nails

Patients tend to have weak nails that keep on breaking. When there is protein restriction, the nails become weak and break a lot. Nails may also turn blue due to low blood circulation (Gordon-Elliot, 2016).

  • Dental complications

Occasional purging and binging may result in a damaged throat and mouth. The presence of stomach acid in the mouth may cause enamel erosion due to frequent vomiting that causes individuals to get prone to cavities (Gordon-Elliot, 2016). Malnutrition may also result in sores in the lips.

  • G.I. symptoms

Individuals suffering from eating disorders may have various G.I. issues. Like nausea, bloating, abdominal pains, distension, and heartburn. Frequent food restrictions may cause large and small intestines to be wasted because they are not used most of the time. Due to those muscles’ underutilization, food tends to take a more extended period when traveling through the digestive tract. These lead to abdominal pains and bloating (Gordon-Elliot, 2016). When the body suffers from hunger, fewer enzymes and hormones are needed to enable digestion; thus, digestion is reduced even more.

  • Bone density is lost.

Patients may suffer from hormonal changes and nutritional problems that interfere with bone density. Reduced estrogen levels cause low bone density in patients with eating disorders. They may even produce excess cortisol hormones that cause bone loss (Gordon-Elliot, 2016).

  • Headaches and lightheadedness

Individuals may present with symptoms of headache and lightheadedness (Gordon-Elliot, 2016). It is because the brain does not receive enough nutrients.

  • Sleep issues

Patients with eating disorders tend to suffer from sleep disturbances. It might be a result of mental disturbances associated with the conditions (Gordon-Elliot, 2016). Most patients tend to suffer from insomnia.

  • Reduced blood pressure

Patients who have this mental disorder may get hypotension due to dehydration. Dehydration causes a reduction in blood volume, leading to reduced blood pressure (Gordon-Elliot, 2016).

  • Menstrual problems

Females may also experience menstrual problems. Their hormones are interfered with due to the changes occurring in their bodies because of unhealthy lifestyles. It may result in menstrual cycle irregularities or failure to completely get their menses (Gordon-Elliot, 2016).

  • Fatigue

Patients tend to feel tired, even after having enough rest or sleep. Fatigue may interfere with their daily life as they tend to perform less than usual (Gordon-Elliot, 2016).

  • Easy bruising

Patients get easily bruised; lack of sufficient platelets makes blood clot slowly than expected (Gordon-Elliot, 2016). It can make the patient susceptible to minor injuries or bruises.

  • Cold intolerance

Patients tend to feel cold, even if the weather is warm or not cold. This is because they lack enough fat in their bodies to help them maintain the heat being generated in their bodies (Gordon-Elliot, 2016). Those around these patients may find it weird when they feel cold, yet the weather is hot.

  • Constipation

Constipation is common in eating disorders. Patients may experience difficulties when passing stool. Constipation can be due to consuming unhealthy diets and lack of fiber (Gordon-Elliot, 2016).

  • Dehydration

Most individuals suffering from eating disorders may not drink enough fluids. Lack of enough fluids in the body leads to dehydration. Some may even end up getting dry and cracked skin due to dehydration (Gordon-Elliot, 2016).

  • Low immunity

Eating disorders can lower an individual’s immune system, and they may function less. They also tend to get sick often. Low immunity in eating disorders makes patients take a long time before getting well since their immunity is compromised. Patients are more prone to diseases since their bodies cannot fight back illnesses (Gordon-Elliot, 2016).


Physical symptoms of bipolar disorder

  • Sleep disturbances

The condition may cause sleep issues like insomnia. An individual may have a reduced need for sleep. Most of the time, they are always awake (M.S.S., 2020).

  • Sluggishness

Individuals suffering from bipolar may be sluggish, especially during the day. Lack of sleep might cause it (M.S.S., 2020).

  • Fatigue

Bipolar disorder may cause fatigue, especially during the depressed state (M.S.S., 2020). A person may feel exhausted all the time, which may interfere with their day-to-day activities. Some may even be unproductive due to fatigue.

  • Body pains and aches

In bipolar disorder, patients may complain of unexplained body pains in the depressive state. They feel lots of pain all over their bodies that result in the inability to manage their daily activities (M.S.S., 2020).

5.GI problems

There is an increased incidence of gastrointestinal disorders in patients with bipolar disease (M.S.S., 2020). A condition like inflammatory bowel disease is common in bipolar, and it has been associated with a microbial community function.

  • Increased activity

Patients with bipolar disorder tend to be very active and energetic. Talkativeness; individuals suffering from bipolar tend to talk a lot (M.S.S., 2020). Bipolar patients talk excessively, and they may not answer the exact questions they have been asked. Some get so impatient that they cannot wait for their turn to talk. They have to make interruptions when communicating with other people.

  • Restlessness

People with bipolar disorders experience restlessness, and they make unnecessary movements. They may not be able to sit, they keep looking for a comfortable position to settle, and they keep pacing around (M.S.S., 2020). Patients are usually unaware of these movements, and they may get mad if they realize that other people are noticing them.

Physical symptoms of ADHD

  • Muscle pain and discomfort

Patients who have ADHD may complain of muscle discomfort and pain, especially in adults (Gask et al., 2018). Once the patients take their ADHD medication, the pains go away.


Fatigue is a common physical symptom of ADHD in adults. They always feel exhausted. Fatigue may be a result of being hyperactive. Patients are always talking too much, moving around, and they can’t stay calm (Gask et al., 2018).

3.Sleep issues

Individuals with the condition have sleep problems. For instance, children who have ADHD cannot sleep during the daytime like other normal children. They are always awake and very active (Gask et al., 2018). Adults, on the other hand, might have problems falling asleep at night. Mental restlessness might be the cause of sleep problems.

4.Physical restlessness

Adults who have ADHD keep moving around, and they can’t get anything done (Gask et al., 2018). Most of the time, they get frustrated because they are unable even to complete simple tasks. On the other hand, children are unable to sit down calmly due to restlessness. They are even unable to concentrate on school work and keep on taping their feet or hands.


Physical symptoms of O.C.D.

  • Body pains

Patients may complain of body pains. For instance, individuals suffering from germ obsession tend to regularly wash their hands, resulting in damage to the skin. Their skin may appear red and painful (Dewan et al., 2015). people suffering from O.C.D. may experience body pains usually inflicted by their obsessive behaviors.

  • Sleep issues

Some studies have indicated that individuals suffering from O.C.D. have high rates of insomnia than usual. They have problems when it comes to sleeping due to the obsessive thoughts that make them remain awake throughout the night (Dewan et al., 2015).

  • Poor appetite

Individuals having O.C.D. may have a low appetite when it comes to food. This is because they are obsessed with having clean items around them. They usually avoid using utensils to prevent them from getting dirty, making them have bad eating habits that lead to loss of appetite (Dewan et al., 2015).


Patients with O.C.D. may feel exhausted, probably because of lack of sleep and sufficient rest. Their minds are usually filled with obsessive thoughts that make them unable to rest; therefore, they feel fatigued (Dewan et al., 2015).

Physical symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

1.Trouble when sleeping

Individuals with PTSD may not have regular sleep patterns (Martin et al., 2016). They tend to wake up because of nightmares or dreams that upset them. It happens because of the traumatic occurrence experienced or watched.


Most patients with PTSD present with migraine headaches (Martin et al., 2016). PTSD interferes with an individual’s life leading to stress. Excess stress can cause headaches to PTSD patients. in some instances, the kind of post-traumatic experience can also increase the risk of getting a headache. Headache pains may be too much that it interferes with an individual’s daily activities.

3.Digestive problem 

Patients with PTSD have gone through different traumas; therefore, if they do not resolve the traumatic issues, their biopsies tend to treat everything like a treat, including the digestive system. When they consume food, the digestive system may find the food a threat, leading to digestive problems like bloating, heartburn, abdominal pains, or constipation (Martin et al., 2016).

4.Back pains and discomfort

Patients who have PTSD may suffer from chronic back pain due to emotional stress (Martin et al., 2016).

5.General body pain

Individuals may present with generalized body aches. They complain that every part and joints in their body is painful. It may be associated with stress after the traumatic incidences (Martin et al., 2016).



A mental disorder is a condition that affects an individual’s thinking, emotions, attitude, and behavior. Mental disorders may include; depression, Schizophrenia, dementia, eating disorders, personality disorders, bipolar disorders, and developmental disorders like autism. There are various causes of mental disorders. It may include; genetics, traumatic brain injuries, chemical imbalances in the brain, and experiences like stress, childhood abuse. Mental disorders may affect a person physically. There are various physical symptoms associated with mental illnesses. They include; fatigue, sleep problems, back pains, abdominal pains, joint pains, headache, dental problems, general body pains, skin dryness, and weak nails. Treatment for mental disorders may vary depending on the specific mental illness. It may include medication, brain stimulation treatments, and psychiatric counselling.