Common Behavioral Health Conditions
Mental health conditions are more common than most people realize. In fact, 1 in 5 adults experiences a mental health condition every year. The good news is that most mental health conditions are treatable. Here you can find information about some of the common behavioral health conditions. Please visit our resources page for more information on each one of the following conditions.
Feeling worried or nervous is a normal part of everyday life. Everyone frets or feels anxious from time to time. Mild to moderate anxiety can help you focus your attention, energy, and motivation. If anxiety is severe, you may have feelings of helplessness, confusion, and extreme worry that are out of proportion with the actual seriousness or likelihood of the feared event. Overwhelming anxiety that interferes with daily life is not normal. This type of anxiety may be a symptom of an anxiety disorder, or it may be a symptom of another problem, such as depression. Anxiety can cause physical and emotional symptoms. A specific situation or fear can cause some or all these symptoms for a short time. When the situation passes, the symptoms usually go away. Physical symptoms of anxiety include:
- Trembling, twitching, or shaking
- Feeling of fullness in the throat or chest
- Breathlessness or rapid heartbeat
- Lightheadedness or dizziness
- Sweating or cold, clammy hands
- Feeling jumpy
- Muscle tension, aches, or soreness (myalgias)
- Extreme tiredness
- Sleep problems, such as the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, early waking, or restlessness (not feeling rested when you wake up)
Anxiety affects the part of the brain that helps control how you communicate. This makes it harder to express yourself creatively or function effectively in relationships. Emotional symptoms of anxiety include:
- Restlessness, irritability, or feeling on edge or keyed up.
- Worrying too much.
- Fearing that something bad is going to happen, feeling doomed.
- Inability to concentrate; feeling like your mind goes blank.
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It’s normal to feel sad sometimes. Life events like break-ups, job changes, or losing a loved one can trigger intense feelings that usually fade over time. But if you have ongoing, overwhelming feelings of sadness or grief, you could be depressed. Depression is an illness that causes you to feel sad, lose interest in activities that you’ve always enjoyed, withdraw from others, and have little energy. It’s different from normal feelings of sadness, grief, or low energy. Depression can also cause people to feel hopeless about the future and even think about suicide. Many people, and sometimes their families, feel embarrassed or ashamed about having depression. Don’t let these feelings stand in the way of getting treatment. Remember that depression is a common illness. It affects the young and old, men and women, all ethnic groups, and all professions. If you think you may be depressed, tell your doctor. Treatment can help you enjoy life again. The sooner you get treatment, the sooner you will feel better.
Postpartum depression: Postpartum depression is a serious illness that can occur in the first few months after childbirth. It also can happen after miscarriage and stillbirth. Postpartum depression can make you feel very sad, hopeless, and worthless. You may have trouble caring for and bonding with your baby. Postpartum depression is not the “baby blues,” which usually go away within a couple of weeks. The symptoms of postpartum depression can last for months. In rare cases, a woman may have a severe form of depression called postpartum psychosis. This is an emergency, because it can quickly get worse and put her or others in danger. It’s very important to get treatment for depression. The sooner you get treated, the sooner you’ll feel better and enjoy your baby.
Bipolar disorder: Bipolar disorder is an illness that causes extreme mood changes from manic episodes of very high energy to the extreme lows of depression. It is also called manic-depressive disorder. This illness can cause behavior so extreme that you cannot function at work, in family or social situations, or in relationships with others. Some people with bipolar disorder become suicidal. Over 3 million Americans have bipolar disorder, and rates are similar in other countries (source). It’s important to know that you’re not alone. Talking with others who suffer from bipolar disorder may help you learn that there is hope for a better life. And treatment can help you get back in control.
OCD is a type of mental illness that causes repeated unwanted thoughts. To get rid of the thoughts, a person with OCD may also do the same tasks over and over. For example, you may fear that everything you touch has germs on it. So, to ease that fear, you wash your hands repeatedly. The obsessions or compulsions usually take up a lot of time—more than 1 hour a day. They greatly interfere with your normal routine at work or school, and they affect social activities and relationships. Sometimes people may understand that their obsessions and compulsions aren’t real. But at other times they may not be sure, or they may believe strongly in their fears. Treatment includes medicines and counseling. Using both tends to work best.