Psychological health involves your mental well-being. It encompasses emotional, psychological and social well-being, influencing cognition, perception and behavior. It is determined by the interplay of individual, environmental and structural factors. Mental health is about how well you are able to cope with life’s complexities, challenges, setbacks and hardships; whether you feel positive emotions, enjoy a number of “positive emotional ties,” and can make a contribution to your community.
A person with poor psychological health may experience a lack of interest in activities, a change in sleeping patterns or eating habits, negative self-talk and isolation. The underlying cause of many mental health problems is abnormal functioning of circuits or pathways that connect particular brain regions. These circuits communicate with each other through chemicals called neurotransmitters. “Tweaking” these chemicals – through medication, psychotherapy or other medical treatments – has been shown to improve some mental health conditions. Defects or injuries to specific brain areas are also linked to some mental disorders.
Research suggests that, if left untreated, mental disorder leads to increased risk of other health problems, such as heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and substance abuse. In addition, it is more likely to increase the risk of suicide and violence. However, current practice tends to focus largely on intervening in people with mental disorders rather than preventing their onset and spread. A growing body of evidence shows that if we work to reduce the overall prevalence of mental disorder, we can substantially reduce morbidity and mortality.
Mood and Disruptive Disorders
While some mental health concerns may be treated with counseling alone, most are treated with both counseling and medications. A psychotherapist and psychiatrist are both trained in counseling techniques, but they each specialize in treating certain mental health issues with medicine as well. Psychotherapy is often used to treat depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disorder, PTSD and other issues. Psychiatric medicines include antidepressants, anti-anxiety and antipsychotics.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful for people and may have led to elevated mood or disruptive disorder symptoms. Several studies found that women and individuals with low household income, insurance coverage or a history of a mood or disruptive disorder were more likely to report symptoms.
Developing and maintaining good mental health requires a balance of physical, social and emotional activities. A key component is support from family and friends, work colleagues and community members. Research suggests that this support is particularly important for individuals with a history of mental illness. A strong support system can help you maintain healthy behaviors and cope with challenging situations. It can also prevent a mental health condition from worsening and lead to a breakdown of your relationships. In fact, it’s a major factor in predicting whether you will recover from a mental health concern. A therapist can provide you with strategies to improve your support network and teach you skills for managing difficult situations.