Staying healthy (23)
- Cosmetic surgery: What to know beforehand
- Vaccines for adults: Which do you need?
- Cancer prevention: 7 tips to reduce your risk
- see all in Staying healthy
Dental care (7)
- Oral health: Brush up on dental care basics
- Oral health: A window to your overall health
- Calcium and calcium supplements: Achieving the right balance
- see all in Dental care
Skin care (17)
- Sunless tanning: A safe alternative to sunbathing
- Best sunscreen: Understand sunscreen options
- Skin care: 5 tips for healthy skin
- see all in Skin care
Nail care (1)
- Fingernails: Do's and don'ts for healthy nails
Eye care (9)
- Eye injury: Tips to protect vision
- Contact lenses: What to know before you buy
- LASIK eye surgery
- see all in Eye care
- Sleep aids: Understand over-the-counter options
- Napping: Do's and don'ts for healthy adults
- Sleep tips: 7 steps to better sleep
- see all in Sleep
Mental health (11)
- Empty nest syndrome: Tips for coping
- Self-esteem: 4 steps to feel better about yourself
- Self-esteem check: Too low, too high or just right?
- see all in Mental health
Healthy relationships (9)
- Domestic violence against men: Know the signs
- Domestic violence against women: Recognize patterns, seek help
- Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness
- see all in Healthy relationships
Healthy at work (12)
- Travel workout: Fitness tips for business travelers
- Workplace exercises: How to burn calories at work
- Desk stretches: How-to video collection
- see all in Healthy at work
Mental health: What's normal, what's not
How do mental health providers diagnose mental health conditions?
To determine if you have a mental health condition, a mental health provider will work with you and your loved ones to assess:
- Your signs and symptoms. Your mental health provider will ask about your signs and symptoms, when they began and how they've affected your life. How you perceive your thoughts and behaviors and how much your signs and symptoms affect your daily activities can help determine what's normal for you. For instance, you might realize that you aren't coping well or that you don't want to do the things you used to enjoy. You might feel sad, hopeless or discouraged. If your sadness has a specific cause, such as divorce, your feelings could be a normal, temporary reaction. However, if you have signs and symptoms that are severe or don't go away, you could have depression. You might also need to have a physical exam to rule out any underlying health conditions.
- Others' perceptions. Your perceptions alone might not give you an accurate picture of your behavior, thoughts or ability to function. Other people in your life can help you understand whether your behavior is normal or healthy. For example, if you have bipolar disorder, you might think your mood swings are just part of the normal ups and downs of life. Your thoughts and actions, however, might appear abnormal to others or cause problems at work, in relationships or in other areas of your life.
Do the definitions of mental health conditions change?
New research can lead to changes in the classification of mental health conditions. New conditions can be added, existing conditions can be removed, and signs and symptoms can be modified as new opinions develop. For example, researchers are considering whether premenstrual signs and symptoms may be added to the DSM as a diagnosable condition called premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Revisions may also reflect evolving social and cultural attitudes.
When is an evaluation or treatment needed?
Each mental health condition has its own set of signs and symptoms. In general, however, professional help may be warranted if you or a loved one experiences:
- Marked change in personality, eating or sleeping patterns
- Inability to cope with problems or daily activities
- Strange or grandiose ideas
- Excessive anxiety
- Prolonged depression or apathy
- Thinking or talking about suicide
- Substance abuse
- Extreme mood swings or excessive anger, hostility or violent behavior
Many people who have mental health conditions consider their signs and symptoms a normal part of life or avoid treatment out of shame or fear. If you're concerned about your mental health or a loved one's mental health, don't hesitate to seek advice. Consult your family doctor, make an appointment with a counselor or psychologist, or encourage your loved one to seek help. With appropriate support, you can identify mental health conditions and explore treatment options, such as medications or counseling.Previous page
(2 of 2)
- Nurcombe B. Clinical decision making in psychiatry. In: Ebert MH, et al. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Psychiatry. 2nd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2008:1.
- Introduction. In: PDM Task Force. Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual (PDM). Silver Spring, Md.: Alliance of Psychoanalytic Organizations; 2006:1.
- Introduction. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed Dec. 8, 2010.
- Appendix B: Criteria sets and axes provided for further study. Proposed disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2000. http://www.psychiatryonline.com. Accessed Dec. 8, 2010.
- What is mental illness? American Psychiatric Association. http://www.healthyminds.org/Document-Library/Brochure-Library/What-is-Mental-Illness.aspx. Accessed Dec. 8, 2010.
- Warning signs of major mental illnesses. American Psychiatric Association. http://www.healthyminds.org/Document-Library/Brochure-Library/Warning-Signs-of-Major-Mental-Illnesses.aspx. Accessed Dec. 8, 2010.
- Information about mental illness and the brain. National Institute of Mental Health. http://science.education.nih.gov/supplements/nih5/mental/guide/info-mental-a.htm. Accessed Dec. 8, 2010.