A healthy mind in a healthy body

Dealing with mental / emotional problems

Overcoming the challenge from within

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When we have problems with other people, or with our circumstances in life, we can get away from them at times. Even when we have problems with our physical bodies, we can usually compensate so they don’t always interfere with our happiness. But when the problem is inside our heads – whether it’s a mood that won’t lift, an addiction, a pervading sense of insecurity or fear or worthlessness, a serious depression, or some other mental illness – it touches us practically every moment of every day, and colors everything we try to do.

It can be nearly as bad for us if the problem is not ours, but belongs to a spouse, a child, or another person we live with or are close to.

Fortunately, most mental and emotional problems can be treated successfully – sometimes cured, sometimes improved or managed with appropriate drugs or other therapeutic methods.

If you or someone you know has a persistent mental or emotional condition, seek professional help. It can be much more affordable than you may think, and is covered by most health insurance plans. And while some of us are afraid that we will be looked down on for getting help of this kind, the opposite is the case: your family and friends already know you have a problem, and they will be pleased for your sake and for theirs that you are doing something about it.

Mental Health America is a reliable go-to resource for many of the issues discussed below, and others - a good place for general information, and for finding specific sources of help. The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation provides additional information specific to older people, and can help you locate a geriatric psychiatrist in your area (rating = A).

Dealing with mental / emotional problems relates to other areas of Health:

Dealing with mental / emotional problems relates to other areas besides Health:

Dealing with mental / emotional problems Sub-Topics and Resources

Sometimes we are stuck for a while for “normal” reasons. We have a major setback in our lives, someone important to us dies or suffers some other serious misfortune, we undergo stress because life really is difficult at times, or we're stressed even because so many good changes are happening at once (and then we experience a let down when they're over). Sometimes we're simply overtaken by a sad mood or a feeling of anxiety that we have trouble pinning down.

These situations are normal, and do not suggest any kind of serious mental problem. There are ways of coping with them constructively.

However, if bad feelings persist, or if mood swings start occurring for no obvious reason, these can be signs of a more serious problem (including, in the elderly, the onset of dementia), and a professional assessment is called for.

A variety of crisis issues are dealt with elsewhere in these Retirement Readiness pages – refer to the “See also” links, below. A few are not covered elsewhere, and so are included here: midlife crisis, adjustment to retirement, and situational depression (depression caused by external events). This general category is technically known by psychologists as “adjustment disorders” – which may be mild and temporary, or serious and the beginning of something worse.

Personality disorders are conditions that are more persistent than moods or reactions to events in your life, but are generally not as debilitating as the illnesses in the following section. Still, they can make life very hard for people who suffer from them and/or others who have to live with them.