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

Depression and heart disease: A double-edged sword?

Depression and cardiovascular disease are common conditions that often occur together. People with depression can find it hard to muster the energy to stick to healthy habits, including choosing and preparing healthy foods and taking prescribed medications on schedule. Three lifestyle changes can improve both illnesses: doing regular exercise, getting plenty of high-quality sleep, and practicing mindfulness meditation. Antidepressants such as sertraline (Zoloft) and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors help ease depression in people with cardiovascular disease. So can cognitive behavioral therapy, which is designed to help people recognize and change ingrained, negative thoughts or behaviors. (Locked) More »

Is it dementia or something else?

People often fear that memory lapses, such as forgetting your keys or people’s names, are related to dementia. But there are also many more benign reasons for forgetfulness. A lack of sleep, certain medications, or even stress, anxiety, or depression can lead to memory problems. People experiencing memory lapses should see their doctor to investigate potential causes. (Locked) More »

Take a mental break from pain

Practicing mindfulness teaches people to be aware of the present moment and accept a situation without judgment. This helps a person manage episodes of pain by shifting thinking away from negativity and recognizing pain for what it is—something that you can help ease. This change in mindset also interrupts the brain’s process of painful feelings and can induce a relaxation response to release endorphins, the feel-good hormone, and help relieve discomfort. More »

The powerful play of pickleball

Pickleball, one of the country’s fastest-growing racquet sports, is an optimal activity for older adults as it offers cardiovascular health benefits, helps improve cognitive skills, and is a fun way to socialize. The game also can help improve balance to help reduce the risk of falls, and can accommodate different fitness levels. (Locked) More »

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 »