In the United States, one in five adults experience a mental illness at some point in their lives. It is a condition more serious than heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and it affects people of all ages and walks of life.
There is no single cause of mental health disorders, but a variety of factors can contribute to their development. They include inherited traits, environmental exposures, the brain’s chemistry and other biological factors. They may also be triggered by life events, such as birth trauma, loss of a job or family breakup.
Symptoms of a mental illness can be debilitating and lead to distress and poor health. They can affect your appetite, sleeping patterns, mood and relationships. They can also make it difficult to work or study. They may cause you to rely on drugs or alcohol to get through your day and even to think about suicide.
Mental health is a critical issue for all societies. It impacts society in a number of ways, such as through the loss of jobs and incomes, strained social connections, the stress of dealing with comorbid physical health problems and the costs of treatment.
Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses. Symptoms include feeling sad, hopeless and empty, having changes in appetite or sleep habits, or experiencing uncharacteristic mood swings. Other symptoms are losing interest in certain activities, withdrawn from friends or family, or having thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
These signs can be debilitating, but they are usually treatable. Medications and psychotherapy can help improve your mental health and reduce your symptoms. Your doctor can give you advice on how to cope with these symptoms and support you through your recovery.
There are many types of mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression. Some can be treated with medication, while others require therapy or other interventions. Some are treatable by modifying lifestyle and addressing factors such as your environment, education, employment, social life, diet and sleep.
In addition to medications, treatment plans often include supportive services such as peer support groups and counseling. These are important because they help you build a strong network of people who understand what it is like to have a mental illness. They can also improve your mood, and help you feel better.
Some of these services are free and available to all. You can find them in your area at community health centers or online.
While mental health is often treated as a separate field from other medical conditions, it is an essential part of primary care. It must be recognized as such, and it should be incorporated in calls for comprehensive primary health care and in the allocation of healthcare resources.
Integrated care for mental health can make the most of existing resources and minimize the cost of treating a person with a mental illness. This will benefit both the patient and society as a whole, and it can help to increase the effectiveness of health care overall.