Fit for the Road

Carolyn Magner | March 01, 2010

Many mental health disorders can be successfully controlled with therapy and medication. The first step is to make an appointment with your physician for a complete check-up. Tell him how you’ve been feeling and contact him immediately if you display any of the red flags indicating a serious condition where you could harm yourself or others. “It’s a sign of strength, not weakness, to call for help,” Lombardo says.

Types of Common Mental Health Disorders

Anxiety disorders An abnormal response to stressful situations that interfere with your normal life may indicate an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder and specific phobias.

Mood disorders Depression, mania and bipolar disorders are called affective disorders and involve persistent feelings of sadness or periods of feeling overly happy — or dramatic fluctuations between the two.

Psychotic disorders Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia involve distorted awareness and thinking and include hallucinations and delusions.

Eating disorders Eating disorders involve extreme emotions, attitudes and behaviors involving weight and food. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder are the most common.

Impulse control and addiction disorders Pyromania (starting fires), kleptomania (stealing) and compulsive gambling are examples of impulse control disorders. Objects of addictions include alcohol and drugs.

Personality disorders Some types include antisocial personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder and paranoid personality disorder.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health, Mental Health America

Red flags

If you see any of these warning signs in yourself, make an appointment with your doctor or a mental health professional at once.

• Feeling down, hopeless or helpless most of the time.

• Severe sleep disruption.

• Concentration problems that are interfering with your work or home life.

• Using smoking, overeating, drugs or alcohol to cope with strong emotions.

• You find yourself frequently crying or wanting to cry.

• You relive a traumatic event over and over.

• Negative or self-destructive thoughts or fears that you can’t control.

• Thoughts of death or suicide.

• Prolonged depression (sadness or irritability).

• Feelings of extreme highs and lows.

• Excessive fears, worries and anxieties.

• Social withdrawal.

• Delusions or hallucinations.

• Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities.

• Denial of obvious problems.

• Numerous unexplained physical ailments.

• You hear voices that others do not hear.

Source: Mental Health America, American Psychological Association

Changing moods

Misty Bell is managing editor for Truckers News. You can find her health blog at Contact her at or

There is hope and help for all levels of depression

By Misty Bell

You have been in a dark tunnel for a long, long time. Unsure how you got there, you struggled against the darkness, looking for a light. At first you could see a flickering light in the distance, barely discernible. But the harder you struggle to make it to that light, the heavier your limbs become.

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