Oct 15, 2006 Table of Contents

Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education Web site.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Emotional Health: What You Should Know

Am Fam Physician. 2006 Oct 15;74(8):1388.

What is emotional health?

People with good emotional health are in control of their thoughts, feelings, and the way they act. They feel good about themselves and have good relationships. They can keep problems under control.

It’s important to remember that even people with good emotional health can sometimes have emotional problems or mental illness. But people with good emotional health have learned how to cope with stress and problems.

What about anger?

People do not always know what causes their anger or how to express it. Certain events or actions by other people can make you angry. Also, many little things can build up to make you feel that life is unfair.

If you find yourself becoming more upset or taking unhealthy risks, you may have a problem dealing with anger.

What can I do to avoid problems?

Try to understand why you feel the way you do. Learning how to sort out the causes of sadness, frustration, and anger in your life can help you better manage your emotional health.

Tips on Dealing with Your Emotions

  • Learn to express your feelings in appropriate ways. Let people know when something is bothering you. Keeping feelings of sadness or anger inside takes extra energy and can cause problems in your relationships and at work or school.

  • Think before you act. Emotions can be powerful. Before you get carried away by your emotions and say or do something you might regret, consider the consequences.

  • Try to have balance in your life. Don’t worry too much about problems at work, school, or home. Focus on positive things in your life. Make time for things you enjoy.

  • Take care of yourself. Your physical health can affect your emotional health. Take care of your body by exercising regularly, eating healthy meals, and getting enough sleep. Don’t abuse drugs or alcohol.

Can emotional problems be treated?

Yes. Counseling, support groups, and medicines can help people who have emotional problems or mental illness. If you have an ongoing emotional problem, talk to your doctor. He or she can help you find the right type of treatment.


This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at http://familydoctor.org.

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.

Copyright © 2006 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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