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

Your heart’s desire: A daily practice to relieve stress

Chronic stress has physical effects that can harm the heart. Frequent psychosocial stress raises blood pressure and heart rate. But it also stimulates the body’s production of infection-fighting white blood cells that contribute to inflammation, which over time can encourage the buildup of fatty plaque inside artery walls. Stress-easing practices that help people let go of everyday worries may counteract those negative effects. These include practicing mindfulness while engaged in an engrossing hobby (such as playing an instrument or gardening). Other techniques include focused breathing, body scans, guided imagery, yoga, and tai chi. (Locked) More »

Looking for an earlier sign of Alzheimer’s disease

Symptoms of mild cognitive impairment can be an early marker of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. But new research has suggested there may be an even earlier clinical sign: subjective cognitive decline (SCD). SCD refers to a situation in which a person notices his thinking abilities are worsening, but standard memory tests can’t verify a decline. Since there is no test to diagnose SCD, the key is to increase self-awareness of changes in memory and consult a doctor as needed. (Locked) More »

The art of pain therapy

Art therapy is a form of expressive therapy that uses the creative process of art to address and work through emotional and physical issues, especially those related to chronic pain. Art therapy does not replace the need for pain medication, but it helps lower the perception of pain by moving people’s mental focus away from the painful stimulus, and teaching them how to relax and alter their mood, so the pain no longer controls them. (Locked) More »

Tips to cope when it’s time to downsize

Downsizing for a move to a smaller home may lead to feelings of sadness, grief, stress, or anxiety. To cope with those feelings, it helps to reach out to others and stay socially connected, hire a professional to assist with the downsizing process, and engage in a new community and find interesting activities or groups to join. If emotions interfere with the ability to get through each day, one should speak with a primary care doctor or a therapist. (Locked) More »

Your health through the decades

By age 60, all men tend to get thrown together into the so-called 60-and-older group, even though there are often significant differences between a man who is 65 and one who is 85. Certain lifestyle habits need to be maintained, no matter what a man’s age, such as adopting a heart-healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and continuing a regular exercise routine to build strength, flexibility, and cardio fitness. Yet most men also need to place extra attention on certain aspects of their health depending on whether they are in their 60s, 70s, or 80s. (Locked) More »

Protect your brain from stress

Stress can interfere with the way the brain functions, in some cases resulting in permanent changes and increasing the risk for a memory disorder. Certain types of stress, including chronic stress, may be more damaging than others to the brain. Managing stress by rethinking your daily habits can help to head off potential problems. More »