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

5 steps to long-lasting independent living

Older adults who want to continue to live independently need to focus on five areas of their health that can ensure their continued well-being and, ultimately, the preservation of their lifestyle. These five areas are staying mentally engaged, being active, sleeping well, eating right, and being current with health exams. (Locked) More »

Menopause and mental health

Changes in female hormone levels can bring about mood changes or mild mood disorders during perimenopause and the transition into menopause. However, this is also a time when life circumstances or physical changes can play a role in mood shifts. Women should be aware that this may occur and be certain to bring bothersome mood changes to the attention of their doctors. More »

Puppy love may help your heart

A growing number of studies show health benefits related to owning a dog. This includes improved heart health, according to two recent studies. This may be the case because dog owners get more exercise caring for their animals, and they may spend more time outdoors. In addition, the companionship may help their mental health. (Locked) More »

Don’t stress about heart health

When stress becomes more frequent or lingers—what’s known as chronic stress—it can cause excessive strain throughout the body and lead to higher inflammation, higher blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and sleep disturbances—all factors that contribute to a higher risk for heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. By practicing certain behaviors, people can train their brain and body not to let chronic stress control them. (Locked) More »

Focus on concentration

Everyone’s attention tends to wander with age. Certain lifestyle strategies, such as working in blocks of time and practicing stimulating activities, can help people sharpen their focus and improve the brain’s executive function skills, such as planning, making decisions, and paying attention. More »

Quick-start guide to mental health professionals

Many types of trained professionals can help people with mental health issues. For example, psychiatrists can provide medical and psychiatric evaluations, treat psychiatric disorders, provide psychotherapy, and prescribe and monitor medications; psychologists can do psychological evaluations and testing and provide psychotherapy to treat mental disorders, but they cannot prescribe medication. The type of mental health care professional one seeks depends on his or her particular needs, including one’s condition, preferences, and the availability of clinicians in the area. More »