How do I know if I have a co-occurring disorder?

If you drink or use drugs and/or have other mental health disorders like anxiety or depression, it is critical that you be evaluated by a health professional. There are effective behavioral treatments and medications for mental illnesses and addiction. For a young person with symptoms of a mental disorder, the earlier treatment is started, the more effective it can be. Early treatment can help prevent more severe, lasting problems as you grow up, and can give you the skills to cope and manage these disorders throughout your life.

How do you know if you might have a mental health disorder? Here is a list of signs to watch:

  • Do you smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs?
  • Have you lost interest in things you used to enjoy?
  • Do you have low energy?
  • Do you sleep too much or too little, or are too sleepy throughout the day?
  • Are you spending more and more time alone, and avoid social activities with friends or family?
  •  Do you fear gaining weight, or diet or exercise too much?
  •  Do you hurt yourself (e.g., cutting or burning your skin)?
  • Do you engage in risky or destructive behavior, such as fighting, skipping classes, or illegal activities like trespassing or vandalism, alone or with friends?
  • Are you still feeling unable to cope with grief a long time after a loss or death of a loved one?
  • Do you have thoughts of suicide?
  • Do you have periods of unusual energy and activity, and need much less sleep than usual?
  • Do you sometimes think someone is trying to control your mind or do you hear things that other people cannot hear? 

If you use drugs or drink to overcome these feelings, it is important to seek help immediately. If you have developed some of these problems because of your use of drugs or alcohol, be sure to tell your health professional the whole truth about your behaviors, so he or she can best help you. Science tells us that the earlier you seek help, the better chance you have of leading a healthier life.