Patient & Family Resource Center

When bad things happen, you may feel upset. If those feelings interfere with friends, family, home, school or work, help is available.

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Why does it seem that
something isn't right?

How Many People Are Affected?

-- An estimated 26 percent of American adults – about 1 in 4 – suffer from a diagnosable mental health condition in a given year.

-- Nearly half of those (45 percent) have more than one mental health condition, and six percent have conditions that are severe and disabling.

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Becoming aware that something is wrong

It’s normal to feel upset when bad things happen; this is a healthy, human reaction. Perhaps you or someone you care about are experiencing an unusually stressful situation. For example, you may be frustrated with a colleague at work, sad that a beloved friend or relative passed away, or you may be worried because you and your partner are arguing a lot.

But if the feelings persist and interfere with your ability to work, go to school, socialize, or take care of your home and family, this may be a sign of a mental health condition that can be improved with treatment

The realization that you are feeling burdened may come suddenly, or it could be a gradually growing sense that you are unhappy with the way you are feeling or functioning. If you are becoming concerned about what’s wrong, it’s helpful to develop an understanding of what exactly is troubling you or your loved one.

Questions and answers:


What are the signs that something might be wrong?
Write down all the issues you’re noticing – include physical symptoms (for example, aches and pains), emotional difficulties (for example, relationship problems), cognitive symptoms (for example, problems with thinking, organizing, remembering), behavioral problems (for example, excessive drinking or drug use) and self-care issues (for example, sleep, eating, personal hygiene).


Is it becoming harder to keep emotions under control?
Does it seem that your* feelings are more powerful than they should be, or that these feelings remain with you for a significant part of the day? It may be hard to know if this will pass, or if the feelings are driven by a diagnosable mental health condition that can be treated. (Visit the "Diagnosis" section of this website for a description of common mental health conditions.)


Are you or a loved one at risk for self harm or suicide?
Familiarize yourself with the risk factors and warning signs for suicide. (Visit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention web site for a description of suicide warning signs and risk factors.)


Are you or a loved one at risk for violence toward others?
Familiarize yourself with the risk factors and warning signs for violence. (Visit the American Psychological Association’s Help Center for a discussion of anger management in adults and prevention of youth violence.


Would it be helpful to consult a healthcare professional?
Consult a healthcare professional if you or others are at risk of harm, or if:

  • You feel impaired by what bothers you
  • Your work or personal life is suffering
  • You can identify specific symptoms, such as mood changes, behavior changes, sleep disturbances, abnormal appetite, thinking or memory difficulties
  • These symptoms/difficulties have persisted for more than a month or two and they are failing to improve or are getting worse

A healthcare professional will be able to advise you, assess whether your difficulties are due to a treatable mental health condition, and refer you to a mental health specialist if necessary.