Mental health is also known as emotional health or well-being. Use the tag for stress, depression, anxiety, autism, ADHD and puzzling symptoms. Everyone experiences changes in mental health but not everyone has a diagnosable mental illness or disorder.

About 25% of people have mental health difficulties each year. Good mental health is about being able to cope and make the most of life.

Symptoms can affect the whole body

Symptoms are not only emotional or behavioral, they can also be physical or cognitive including disturbed sleep, racing heart, concentration problems, digestive problems as well as more obvious problems like hallucinations.

Autism, including Asperger's, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and neurological/cognitive impairments or diseases like Dementia are also mental disorders.

Physical symptoms which are very significant and linked to mental health can result in many medical tests without any physical causes being found. These are called Somatic or Conversion Disorders.

Mental health difficulties are much more common in people with poor physical health or with a history of difficulty past experiences.

Treatment and coping

Mental health problems are not a choice. Will-power alone is not normally likely to improve the situation. Treatment choices depend on which condition(s) are present, what suits a person most and how severe the symptoms are.

Options include: - learning coping techniques - relaxation strategies - improved diet and sleep - regular exercise - discussing and dealing with problems rather than avoiding them - medication - talking therapy (counselling or psychotherapy) - group therapy or support groups

Medication

The stigma associated with mental health can affect whether people are willing to take medication, or may result in people being pressured to stop medication which helps them. Needing to take medication in order to make symptoms managable should not be seen as a 'personal failing'.

Many older psychiatric drugs did have serious side effects and people can have serious adverse reactions to certain drugs or classes of drugs (which can also happen with drugs for physical disorders). Overmedication is also something to be cautious of.

The media frequently present very negative views of the dangers of psychiatric medication, especially anti-depressants, but many of these stories are heavily biased and they rarely involve interviews or input from people taking the medications, or discuss the high suicide and hospitalization rates for people with mental illness who refuse medication.

Some psychiatric drugs are also licensed for physical health conditions, especially those for peripheral neuropathic pain (nerve pain), and many people living active lives today would not be able to do so without either current or past medication.

References

Mental Health Conditions, National Association of Mental Health Learn more about different types of mental disorders

What is mental health, mentalhealth.org.uk

crazymeds.us Neurological and psychiatric medications - the good, the bad, the wierd and funny, patient information leaflets and views from people actually taking the medication, for FDA-approved meds only

24 Spot-on Illustrations that combat Mental Health stigma, Huffington Post

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