Mental Health

Mental health is essential to health. Five of the ten leading causes of disability and premature death worldwide are psychiatric conditions. Nearly 900,000 people die by suicide each year.

Everyone periodically experiences emotional stress, and most people develop ways to cope successfully with these episodes. Some people, however, cannot control their own thoughts, moods, fears, or emotional reactions to stressful life experiences. These people suffer from a variety of mental health disorders, each of which is distinguished by unique symptoms.

Mental health and illness have multiple social, psychological and biological determinants. As research shows mental health and physical health and illness are closely linked. Mental illness can be caused by, and be an effect of, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

This section discusses causes of, and holistic treatments for, the most common of these disorders, including anxiety, depression, panic disorders and phobias, schizophrenia, compulsive disor­ders, and insomnia.

Early diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders can help many people return to fulfilling and productive lives.



  1. O'Donovan, D. (2008). The state of health atlas : mapping the challenges and causes of disease . Berkeley : University of California Press.
  2. Servan-Schreiber, D. (2006). The Duke encyclopedia of new medicine : conventional and alternative medicine for all ages. London : Rodale

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Mental Health Disorders


While worry and stress are an everyday part of life we all must deal with, when anxiety develops to the point a feeling of apprehension or fear is overwhelming a disabling condition can occur. Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses today, affecting at least 10 percent of the people Western countries.


This disease varies widely in just its intensity but its symptoms. Depression is among the leading causes of disability in the world today and is thought to affect some 121 million people around the globe. While over 850,000 people a year commit suicide (often due to depression), this illness can also impact the health in other ways.

Eating Disorders

In recent years eating disorders seem to be making headlines as more and more celebrities confess to suffering from bulimia, anorexia nervosa, or sometimes both. Both of these conditions are medical conditions that require treatment. When help is not sought, other health problems can occur, some of which may be fatal.


This condition is characterized by overwhelming fears of specific objects or situations. The people who experience phobias have intense discomfort, sometimes to the point of panic, when they are faced with the objects of their fear. The typical way of dealing with this problem is to completely avoid the stimuli, which in turn can create varying degrees of hardship.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Once known as shell-shock or combat fatigue, post-traumatic stress affects more people than simply those who are war-weary veterans. Anyone who survives a traumatic or disturbing event may fall prey to this disorder. PTSD is currently thought to affect about 10 percent of people at some time in their lives.

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