More than half of adults in the United States will experience mental illness—which refers to a variety of conditions that affect one’s mood, behavior, feelings or thinking—at some point in their life. Mental illnesses can occur occasionally, while others are chronic. Common mental illnesses include anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
Mental Health Awareness Month, observed every May, is a time to raise awareness about mental health, break the stigma and support people with mental illness.
Each condition has its own unique symptoms, but common signs of mental illness include the following:
- Feeling sad, irritable or angry for an extended time
- Feeling excessively paranoid, worried or anxious
- Experiencing extreme mood swings
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Changing eating habits due to increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Having trouble sleeping or making dramatic sleeping pattern changes
One or two of these symptoms alone can’t predict a mental illness, but they may indicate a need for further evaluation.
Taking Care of Yourself
One way to improve your mental health is through self-care. Self-care looks different for every person since it involves doing things that you enjoy or need.
Here are some ideas for how to practice self-care:
- Live healthy by eating well, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly.
- Connect regularly with friends and family who encourage and support you.
- Pamper yourself by watching your favorite TV show, taking a bath, applying a face mask, getting a massage or reading a book.
- Find ways to relax, including meditating, practicing yoga, going on a nature walk or baking.
The goal is to try to do something you enjoy every day. If you have concerns about a loved one’s or your mental health, contact a doctor or mental health professional.