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

Coping with relationship fatigue

Stress, isolation, and close quarters can make for tense times at home with loved ones or a roommate. A number of approaches can ease tensions, such as realizing everyone is under a lot of stress and cutting each other some slack; setting up boundaries and agreeing when it’s okay to be together and when it’s okay to be apart; and finding a place to be alone, whether it’s a corner, another room, or a safe location outside the home. More »

Don’t ignore depression

Depression may be more common as people age, but new data suggest that the biggest threat to older adults’ mental health is their failure to recognize its symptoms and seriousness. Many chalk up depression as a normal part of aging, but addressing it as a real and treatable disease can help older adults seek the help they need and not needlessly suffer. More »

Pain conditions are more common in women

Women are disproportionately affected by conditions that cause chronic pain, but they sometimes have difficulty getting a definitive diagnosis as to what is causing their pain and may be less likely to receive appropriate treatments even when they do. (Locked) More »

What can I do for my excessive sweating?

Excessive sweating commonly happens in stressful social situations. But it may be underlying anxiety that is causing the problem. Topical antiperspirants and medications to reduce anxiety if needed can help reduce excessive sweating. (Locked) More »

An outlook better than optimism?

Instead of being pessimistic or optimistic, it’s better for well-being to focus on reality and not on just positive or negative outcomes. To cultivate such a realistic outlook, one can focus on the present moment and take refuge in it; build a social network so one can lean on friends and family for support; identify with things that are more enduring than a current situation, such as nature or humanity; and focus on things that bring meaning to one’s life. More »

Boost vitality by engaging your brain

A healthy diet, regular aerobic exercise, and proper sleep are essential to keep your brain healthy. But a new study that followed older adults into their 90s found that regular work engagement and a high level of life satisfaction are also associated with mind benefits. These help to utilize various thinking skills, increase a person’s sense of worth, and encourage more brain-building goals and activities. More »

Understanding intimate partner violence

Intimate partner violence, which includes physical or sexual violence, psychological harm, or stalking by a current or former partner, affects as many as one in three women. Help is available, even during the pandemic. Leaving an abusive situation can be challenging, but having a plan can help. Women should also be aware that the abuse isn’t their fault and they are not alone. As many as one in three women experiences intimate partner violence. (Locked) More »

COVID pandemic got you down?

Almost everyone goes through rough mental patches of feeling down, sad, and lethargic. If these feelings become more frequent and linger longer, that could signal a form of depression called persistent depressive disorder, also known as dysthymia. An evaluation from a mental health expert like a psychiatrist or counselor can confirm the diagnosis and offer appropriate treatment like psychotherapy, antidepressants, or a combination of the two. (Locked) More »

Navigating holiday pressures in the COVID-19 reality

The pandemic makes coping with holiday pressures a little tricky. If one is concerned about COVID-19 exposure at a holiday event, it may help to chat with loved ones to get support for a decision about whether to attend. If one must celebrate the holidays alone, it may help to grieve what is lost, savor past holiday gatherings, watch online religious services, and continue to practice special traditions—such as making holiday foods or putting up holiday decorations. (Locked) More »