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

Forgetful? When to worry about memory changes

Memory changes can be scary, but they don’t always indicate Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Even so, a physician should evaluate sudden changes in the ability to perform daily activities. Early diagnosis has a number of benefits. (Locked) More »

Mental stress, gender, and the heart

In people with heart disease, mental stress can lead to reduced blood supply to the heart, a phenomenon known as mental stress–induced ischemia. This problem seems to result from different physiological effects in women and men. More »

Train your brain

As people age, cognitive skills wane and thinking and memory become more challenging, so they need to build up the brain’s reserve. Embracing a new activity that requires thinking, learning, ongoing practice can be one of the best ways to improve cognitive skills like memory recall, problem solving, and processing speed. More »

Mindfulness can improve heart health

The mind-calming effect of meditation can help reduce the risk of heart disease, according to research. A regular practice can lower heart rate, improve blood flow, and reduce and manage stress. It also can help create a positive outlook on life and encourage a person to follow many heart-healthy habits like a proper diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep. More »

When worry becomes a problem

People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) constantly anticipate disaster and are overly concerned about issues like health, money, and family even when there is no apparent reason for concern. Left alone to manifest, GAD can lead to serious health problems, like high blood pressure, depression, and unhealthy behavior like excessive drinking. More »

Holiday for one?

Facing holidays alone may trigger stress, loneliness, or depression. Ways to navigate this period include reframing one’s image of what a holiday should look like. Creating new holiday traditions can help, such as making holiday foods, listening to holiday music, watching holiday entertainment on TV, or reading holiday stories. It can also help to reach out to others, for instance, by inviting neighbors over, volunteering for a local charity, or going to a community dinner. (Locked) More »

Staying connected can improve your health

Research shows that loneliness may have ill effects for health. Social bonds can fray as people age, particularly in times of stress such as after the loss of a partner or in cases of illness or disability. Taking steps to reconnect can not only help improve social life, but can also help protect health over the long term. More »