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

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 »

Fighting fatigue

Fatigue is a common symptom that can be caused by a whole host of factors, from medical conditions to stress and poor sleep. In order to ease ongoing fatigue, it’s important to investigate and treat the underlying cause. Fatigue that doesn’t respond to interventions or is severe or persistent should be brought to the attention of a doctor. It may be caused by a medical condition. 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 »

Are you healthy enough to age in place?

There are many health-related requirements for living independently in older age. For example, one needs sharp thinking skills in order to manage medications, pay bills, choose clothes for the day, and select and buy groceries; and one needs strength, balance, and flexibility in order to get up from a chair, cook, or clean. People with weakening aspects of health should talk to a doctor for potential solutions to improve or cope with health challenges in order to continue living independently. More »

Happy holidays?

The holidays might look different this year, and the change may leave people feeling a range of emotions from guilt to loneliness, and sadness. But while life may be different this year, there are things that people can do to make this challenging time a little easier, such as planning ahead to make travel possible, working with family and friends to come up with mutually agreeable plans, and taking pleasure in different aspects of holidays and events. More »