How about you? Try to answer these questions:
Do you have feelings of sadness or irritability? Has there been a loss of interest in pleasurable activities that you once enjoyed? Have you noticed any weight loss or change in your appetite? Have you noticed changes in your sleeping pattern? Are you feeling guilty? Are you experiencing difficulty in concentrating, remembering things or making decisions? Have you had thoughts of suicide or death? If you answered “yes” to most of these questions, consider consulting your family physician as your mental health maybe at risk.
Mental health, as defined by the Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health, “refers to the successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and the ability to adapt to change and cope with adversity.” On the other end of the flow is mental illness, a term that refers to all “mental disorders.”
Mental disorders are health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior associated with distress or impaired functioning. This notion of a continuum sees mental health on one end as “successful mental functioning” compared to mental illness on the other end as “impaired functioning.”
Mental health is how we think, feel, and act as we cope with life. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Like physical health, mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.
Everyone feels worried, anxious, sad or stressed sometimes. But with a mental illness, these feelings do not go away and are severe enough to interfere with daily life. It can make it hard to meet and keep friends, hold a job, or enjoy life.
Mental illnesses are quite common and affect about one in five families in the U.S. These disorders such as depression, phobias, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and many others are real diseases that one cannot get away from. Fortunately, they are often treatable. Medicines and therapy can improve the life of most people with mental illnesses. But, it is more cost-effective to have a physician prescribe mood stabilizers instead of seeing a psychiatrist. However, follow doctor’s instructions on counseling and referrals to mental health professionals.
People who are emotionally and mentally healthy are in control of their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. They feel good about themselves and have good relationships. They can keep problems in perspective. It’s important to remember that people who have good emotional health sometimes have emotional problems or mental illness. Mental illness often has a physical cause, such as a chemical imbalance in the brain. Stress and problems with family, work, or school can sometimes trigger mental illness or make it worse. If you feel that you or someone you care about is at risk, ask for help, it may not be easy at first, but there are ways and steps that may save your own or someone else’s life.
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