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

A purpose-driven life may last longer

Having a purpose in life may help improve health, according to a new study. Study authors found that people who have a strong life purpose were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and other conditions than people who don’t. Volunteering, contributing to the well-being of family members, and hobbies are all things that people report give them purpose in life. (Locked) More »

Get the facts about memory loss

Dementia, Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment. These terms are often mentioned together to describe age-related memory loss. While they are linked in some ways, they are not necessarily the same, and they often affect people differently. "Even though memory loss is more common as you age, it is not part of normal aging," says Dr. Gad Marshall, associate medical director of the Center for Alzheimer Research and Treatment at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital. "Either sudden or gradual persistent changes in memory loss and mental lapses can be signs of more serious conditions." More »

An underused option for severe depression

Nonsurgical brain stimulation techniques use electrical current or magnets to stimulate the brain areas affected by depression. It’s thought that the changes in brain activity the treatments prompt help relieve symptoms of depression. A new study found that these treatments can be an effective alternative or additional therapy for people with medication-resistant severe depression. More »

Meditation: There's an app for that

A booming number of meditation apps reflect growing interest in the technique, which research shows can help with a number of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and high blood pressure. But app quality may vary, so a dose of caution is warranted. People new to meditation may want to combine an app with a class to learn how to meditate effectively. (Locked) More »