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Money problems, health problems, and the loss of loved ones are all sources of stress, worry, and sadness. During stressful times, feeling sad, worried, or anxious for a little while is normal. But it's not normal to feel this way a lot of the time. Ongoing feelings of sadness and numbness can be signs of depression. Constant worrying that won't go away can be a sign of an anxiety disorder. These feelings are not just "in your head" or a sign of weakness. Mental health problems, such as anxiety and mood disorders, are real illnesses, just like diabetes or heart disease. They can cause changes in your brain and body chemistry.
Treatment can help people with mental health problems to feel better. But many American Indians and Alaska Natives do not get treatment or drop out of treatment. Keep in mind that getting help is important. Unlike most disabling physical illnesses, mental illness often begins early in life. The sooner a mental health problem is discovered, the better the chance for a full recovery.
Remember: Mental illnesses are real, and treatment can help. If emotional problems are interfering with work, school, relationships, or home life, see a doctor.
Content last updated: May 18, 2010.