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Health Tip: Mental Disorders Are Common

(HealthDay News) -- More than 43 million American adults, 18 percent of the U.S. population, had a mental disorder in the past year, the most recent surveys cited by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) show.

These disorders -- characterized by significant changes in mood, thoughts or behavior -- often make carrying out daily activities more difficult and impair relationships with family and friends.

If you or a loved one has a mental disorder, the agency suggests:

  • Don't blame yourself or the person with the disorder. It's not an "attitude problem," but a medical condition.

  • Listen to the person carefully, but don't judge him or her.

  • Ask gently if you can make an appointment to see a health professional. The affected person may not be able to do this.

  • As worried as you may be about the affected person, avoid the temptation to argue or convince the person of a problem.

  • Take the person to the emergency room if he or she voices a desire to commit suicide.