Mental disorders, like many other medical illnesses, are not uncommon. In any given year, one out of five adult Americans experiences a mental illness or emotional problem severe enough to require treatment. These disorders impair how people feel, think, and act, and interfere with their effectiveness at work and school and their relationships with friends and family.
Mental illness does not discriminate. It affects men, women, and children of all ages, races, and economic positions.
An individual with mental illness may feel overwhelmed, numbed, or frightened by unwanted emotions or experiences. Relentless feelings of sadness, overpowering anxiety or loneliness, loss of a job, divorce, death of a loved one, abuse of alcohol or drugs all are reasons to seek help from a psychiatrist.
Psychiatrists treat mental illnesses with psychotherapy and medication. Psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” is an effective and commonly prescribed method of treatment for mild to moderate cases of emotional and mental disorders. In more severe cases, psychotherapy is used in combination with medication. Research shows that most patients who receive psychotherapy experience improvement.
Sadly, too many people with emotional problems do not seek diagnosis and treatment. Their reasons include not recognizing their symptoms as a sign of illness, being embarrassed or fearful that “someone will find out” and that there will be negative consequences at school, work, or home, and having inadequate health insurance coverage. If someone you know has emotional or mental problems, advise him or her to seek help from a psychiatrist or other physician. Once a mental disorder is properly diagnosed, psychotherapy can enable patients to function more effectively and comfortably.