Mental Health

Everyone feels worried or anxious or down from time to time. But relatively few people develop a mental illness. What's the difference? A mental illness is a mental health condition that gets in the way of thinking, relating to others, and day-to-day function.

Dozens of mental illnesses have been identified and defined. They include depression, generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and many more.

Mental illness is an equal opportunity issue. It affects young and old, male and female, and individuals of every race, ethnic background, education level, and income level. The good news is that it can often be treated.

Signs and symptoms of mental illness depend in part on the illness. Common symptoms include

  • feeling down for a while
  • extreme swings in mood
  • withdrawing from family, friends, or activities
  • low energy or problems sleeping
  • often feeling angry, hostile, or violent
  • feeling paranoid, hearing voices, or having hallucinations
  • often thinking about death or suicide.

In some people, symptoms of a mental illness first appear as physical problems such as stomach aches, back pain, or insomnia.

Individuals with a mental illness can often ease their symptoms and feel better by talking with a therapist and following a treatment plan that may or may not include medication.

Mental Health Articles

Staying calm in turbulent times

Several self-help techniques may reduce anxiety. However, it’s important to distinguish everyday anxiety from an anxiety disorder and to get help from a mental health professional if anxiety interferes with daily life. (Locked) More »

Take steps to prevent or reverse stress-related health problems

The relaxation response helps to manage stress. It may also reduce the activity of genes that are harmful to health. For example, it may activate genes associated with dilating the blood vessels, and reduce activity of genes associated with blood vessel narrowing and inflammation. That may help lower blood pressure. Practicing this approach for 10 to 20 minutes daily brings positive physiological benefits. Techniques to evoke the relaxation response include focused breathing and guided imagery, among many others. More »

3 easy ways to boost your brain

Studies have indicted that caring for a dog, creating art, and spending time with a grandchild can boost different aspects of memory and reasoning. (Locked) More »

What can you do to avoid Alzheimer’s disease?

It is unclear what causes 99% of Alzheimer’s disease cases. However, evidence suggests that healthy lifestyle choices—such as getting more sleep, exercising, and eating a Mediterranean diet—may help delay or prevent the disease. There is promising but conflicting evidence that other lifestyle choices—such as learning new things, connecting socially, and limiting alcohol intake—may also help prevent or delay Alzheimer’s disease. However, all of these healthy lifestyle choices can help prevent other chronic health problems.  More »

Yes, you can stick to an exercise regimen!

Staying on an exercise regimen can be challenging, but some strategies may help people to stick to the program. Strategies include doing an enjoyable activity, setting goals and rewards, scheduling exercise in a written plan, gradually increasing intensity, exercising with a buddy, charting progress in a journal or with an activity tracker, making exercise more challenging by changing the frequency or duration, and getting back to a normal exercise routine if it falls by the wayside. (Locked) More »

Getting through grief

Although most people recover from the loss of a loved one, grieving can lead to depression. It’s important for the bereaved to focus on maintaining good health habits, recognize their needs and limitations, and get adequate emotional support. (Locked) More »

Is your antidepressant making life a little too blah?

Sometimes, the effect of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) goes beyond improving mood and makes a person feel too little emotion. For example, a person may not cry at a movie’s ending, laugh with the same gusto, or get the same kick out of doing things that once brought enjoyment. A change of drug or dose may fix this. However, it’s important not to stop taking an SSRI without a doctor’s supervision. Suddenly stopping the medication may cause a relapse into depression.  (Locked) More »