What Is Mental Health?
Mental health refers to your emotional and psychological
well-being. Having good mental health helps you lead a happy and healthy life. Your
mental health can be influenced by a variety of factors, including life events
or even your genetics.
There are many strategies that can help you establish and
keep good mental health. These can include:
- keeping a positive attitude
- staying physically active
- helping other people
- getting enough sleep
- eating a healthy diet
- asking for professional help with your mental
health if you need it
- socializing with people whom you enjoy spending
- forming and using effective coping skills to
deal with your problems
What Is Mental Illness?
A mental illness is a condition that affects the way you
feel and think. It can also affect your capacity to get through day-to-day
life. Mental illnesses can be influenced by several different factors,
- daily habits
Mental illnesses are common in the United States. About one in five
American adults experience at least one mental illness each year, and about one in five
young people ages 13 to 18 experience a mental illness at some point in their
Mental illnesses are common, but they vary in severity. About
25 adults experience a serious mental
illness (SMI) each year. An SMI can significantly reduce your ability to carry
out daily life. Different groups of people experience SMIs at different rates.
According to the National
Institute of Mental Health,
women are more likely to experience SMI than men, people ages 26-49 are most
likely to experience an SMI, and people with a mixed race background are more
likely to experience an SMI than people of other ethnicities.
Each type of mental illness is associated with its own
symptoms, but most share some common characteristics. Some common signs of
mental illness may include:
- not eating enough or overeating
- having insomnia or sleeping too much
- distancing yourself from other people and
- feeling fatigue even with enough sleep
- feeling numbness or lacking empathy
- experiencing unexplainable body pains or
- feeling hopeless, helpless or lost
- smoking, drinking, or using illicit drugs more
than ever before
- feeling confusion, forgetfulness, irritability,
anger, anxiety, sadness, or fright
- constantly fighting or arguing with friends and
- having extreme mood swings that cause
- having constant flashbacks or thoughts that you
can’t get out of your head
- hearing voices in your head that you can’t stop
- having thoughts of hurting yourself or other
- being unable to carry out day-to-day activities
Mental Health Disorders
Mental health professionals use the Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to diagnose mental illnesses.
There are many types of mental health disorders, with almost 300 different
conditions listed in DSM-5. Below are some of the most common mental illnesses
affecting people in the United States:
Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental illness that affects about
percent of Americans each year. It causes extreme mood swings, ranging from
energetic, manic highs to depressive lows. These can affect your energy level
and ability to think reasonably. These mood swings are much more severe than
the small ups and downs most people experience on a daily basis.
Dysthymia, also called persistent depressive disorder, is a
chronic type of depression. While dysthymic depression isn’t intense, it can
interfere with your daily life. People with this condition experience symptoms
for at least two years. It’s estimated that about 1.5
percent of American adults experience dysthymia each year.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a chronic mental
illness that causes you to become extremely worried about many things, even
when there’s little or no reason to worry. Those with GAD feel very nervous
about getting through the day and think things won’t ever work in their favor.
Sometimes worrying can keep people with GAD from accomplishing everyday tasks
and chores. GAD affects 3.1
percent of Americans every year.
Major depression, also called major depressive disorder (MDD), causes you
to experience extreme sadness or hopelessness for at least two weeks. People
with MDD may become so upset about their lives that they think about or try to
commit suicide. About 7 percent of
Americans experience at least one major depressive episode each year.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) causes constant and
repetitive thoughts, or obsessions. This occurs with unnecessary and
unreasonable desires to carry out certain behaviors, or compulsions. Many
people with OCD realize that their thoughts and actions are unreasonable, yet
they cannot stop them. More
than 2 percent of Americans are diagnosed with OCD at some point in their
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness
that causes people who have experienced traumatic events, such as war, natural
disasters, or accidents, to experience ongoing psychological problems. Some of
the symptoms include flashbacks to a traumatizing event or being easily
startled. It’s estimated that 3.5
percent of the population in the United States experiences PTSD.
Schizophrenia is a chronic mental illness that impairs your
ability to make choices and connect with other people. It’s a serious condition
that can cause you to experience hallucinations, have delusions, and hear
voices. It’s estimated that 1
percent of the population experiences schizophrenia.
Social phobia, also called “social anxiety disorder,” is a
type of mental illness that causes you to develop an extreme fear of social
situations. It can cause you to get very nervous about being around other
people and you may have difficulty communicating with people because you think
people will judge you. Approximately 15
million adults in the United States experience social phobia each year.
Coping with Mental Illnesses
The symptoms of many mental illnesses may get worse if they’re
left untreated. Reach out for psychological help if you or someone you know may
have a mental illness. Start by paying a visit to your primary care doctor.
They can check for signs of mental illness and help establish a treatment plan