Mental illness can manifest at any age. However, certain mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression, tend to become symptomatic in the late teens to mid-twenties. It is not exactly understood why these disorders tend to appear during this time of life, though there is some research that suggests that it may be related to hormonal changes. Certain people are at greater risk for developing these disorders, such as those with a family history of these disorders. Often, people have a predisposition towards an illness, and some sort of stressor triggers its onset in young adulthood. At Kentlands Psychotherapy, we help young adults with a variety of problems, including concerns about mental illness. Here, we will outline some common symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression that are experienced by young adults:


Schizophrenia can sometimes appear suddenly without warning. However, it more often slowly progresses, showing a decline in functioning and some warning signs until the first episode. It is typical for your loved ones to be aware of something being off, but not being able to identify what it is exactly. Early on, people with schizophrenia often become very reclusive and eccentric. They isolate themselves, say odd things, neglect their personal hygiene and appearance, and seem to be generally indifferent.

Early warning signs of schizophrenia include:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Hostility
  • Paranoia
  • Expressionless gaze
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Inappropriate emotional responses (i.e. laughing or crying at odd times)
  • Odd statements
  • Extreme sensitivity to criticism
  • Odd language patterns
  • Change in sleep patterns

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is characterized by intermittent manic and depressive episodes. People with bipolar disorder shift between euphoric, high moods and extreme depression. When manic, for at least a week, people with bipolar disorder feel more energy and do not need to sleep as much. They indulge in riskier behavior, such as being sexually promiscuous or gambling. When depressed, they experience sadness, irritability, and low energy. They often also experience psychosis, such as hearing voices.

Early warning signs of bipolar disorder include:

Manic episodes:

  • Feeling unusually euphoric
  • Grandiose beliefs
  • Extremely energetic despite sleeping very little
  • Rapid speech
  • Racing thoughts
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Impulsiveness
  • Hallucinations

Depressive episodes:

  • Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness
  • Low energy
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Sluggishness
  • Weight changes


Depression is similar to the depressive episodes that people with bipolar disorder experience. However, the symptoms and treatment of these two disorders are different. For example, antidepressants actually tend to worsen symptoms of people with bipolar disorder. People with depression experience low mood, fatigue, loss of interest, feelings of hopelessness, and difficulty sleeping for a period of at least two weeks.

Common early signs of depression include:

  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of worthlessness and helplessness
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Persistent sad feelings

When you identify with the symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depression, there is hope. Kentlands Psychotherapy in Gaithersburg has a team of psychiatrists that specialize in helping young adults. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.