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

Get the facts about memory loss

Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and mild cognitive impairment are often mentioned together to describe age-related memory loss, but they are not necessarily the same, and they affect people in different ways. While there is no cure for these cognitive conditions, understanding their differences and recognizing common symptoms can provide a window of opportunity to seek medical care before any memory loss worsens. More »

Skip vitamins, focus on lifestyle to avoid dementia

New guidelines released May 19, 2019, by the World Health Organization recommend a healthy lifestyle—such as keeping weight under control and getting lots of exercise—in order to delay the onset of dementia or slow its progression. 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 »

More evidence that exercise can boost mood

Researchers found that regular exercise seems to prevent depression. The study used genetic data to answer the question of whether a lack of movement causes depression or if depression causes people to move less. Moving more, even when just performing ordinary daily activities, such as walking or gardening, can reduce the risk of depression. More »

The power of forgiveness

Almost everyone has experienced being wronged by a person or group. Dwelling on those events and reliving them over and over can fill a person’s mind with negative thoughts. The REACH method can help a person practice forgiveness, thereby reducing levels of stress and anxiety and increasing self-esteem and feelings of optimism. More »