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

Mindfulness: Not just for stress reduction

More doctors are beginning to embrace mindfulness as a complementary therapy. The practice that trains the mind to focus on the present moment is being used to help manage high blood pressure, bronchitis, gastrointestinal distress, headaches, sleep disturbances, and sexual dysfunction, among other conditions. Mindfulness is effective in several ways. It can reduce stress, which may relieve symptoms and possibly resolve some disorders. Mindfulness also helps people cope better with disease by helping them accept discomfort and thereby suffer less.  (Locked) More »

Boot camp for better sleep

Being worried about not being able to sleep can itself become the primary cause of insomnia. People with this problem begin to dread trying to sleep and develop negative feelings and beliefs about sleep. A counseling technique called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help. It is more effective than sleeping pills in the long term. Many insurance providers cover this service.  (Locked) More »

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a brain problem that can make it hard for kids to behave appropriately. It can also make time in the classroom challenging, interfere with schoolwork, and affect a child’s social and emotional development. Brain imaging studies suggest that kids with ADHD have brains that work a little differently than the brains of kids without this condition. ADHD tends to run in families. More »

Seasonal affective disorder

In the northern and southern regions of the world, winter means shorter days and longer nights. This seasonal shift, and the lack of sunlight that goes along with it, can trigger a type of depression known as seasonal affective disorder. People with seasonal affective disorder, sometimes known as the winter blues, begin to experience sadness, depression, and fatigue in the late fall; symptoms fade away in the spring. Women tend to develop seasonal affective disorder more than men. The condition often begins in the third or fourth decade of life, though some children show signs of it. Individuals with seasonal affective disorder experience some of these symptoms: More »