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

Caregivers: Remember your own health

It appears that caregivers of people who spend a week or more on an ICU ventilator have a high risk for developing clinical depression that can last up to a year after the ICU survivor is discharged.  More »

More than a happiness boost: How mood medications help when you’re depressed

Antidepressants help treat more than just the emotional and psychological issues of depression. The medications can also improve other aspects of health, since depression often has physical complications such as appetite loss, insomnia, and fatigue. There are four classes of antidepressants: SSRIs, SNRIs, tricyclic and tetracyclic antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors. There are also “atypical” antidepressants that have unique properties. Side effects vary depending on the drug. But all antidepressants take time to work, from two weeks to a month.  (Locked) More »

Is an underlying condition causing your fuzzy thinking?

Underlying conditions are often overlooked as causes of thinking impairment. Common causes of fuzzy thinking include obstructive sleep apnea, medication side effects, an underactive thyroid, low levels of vitamin B12, or anxiety and depression. Treating an underlying condition can often resolve fuzzy thinking. If not, a visit to a neuropsychologist may be necessary. Other ways to improve clarity include eating a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet; exercising; and getting more sleep. (Locked) More »

What a therapist can do for you

Mental health is just as important as physical health and proper nutrition, and ignoring negative feelings can have a profound impact on all aspects of a person’s life. During these difficult times, men can benefit from seeing a therapist, who can help identify the source of their problems and then help resolve them.  (Locked) More »

Lend a hand, help your heart?

Doing volunteer work has been linked to better physical and mental health outcomes. People who volunteer may be more active, less depressed, and more likely to get preventive health care services. Volunteers tend to be more socially connected to their communities, which could give them better access to health-promoting information such as where to find fresh vegetables or where to get a free flu shot. Volunteerism is also linked to having a greater sense of purpose in life, which appears to lower the risk of having a heart attack or other cardiovascular event.  (Locked) More »

How to stay motivated

Want to make a change but wondering how to stay motivated? Dr. Srini Pillay talks about the things that can impact personal motivation and the power of a sense of meaning to help you stick with your goals. More »

The lowdown on low-grade depression

Dysthymia, or low-grade depression, is the most common type of depression, yet it often goes undiagnosed and thus untreated. Knowing the warning signs and how the condition affects life and health can motivate people to seek appropriate treatment.  (Locked) More »