50 SIGNS OF MENTAL ILLNESS > Reviews > The Baltimore Sun

The Baltimore Sun

Understanding mental illness

50 Signs of Mental Illness, by Dr. James Whitney Hicks (Yale University Press, $27.50).

Nearly one in three Americans every year suffers from some psychiatric symptom, ranging from alcohol cravings to panic attacks to debilitating psychosis.

In an authoritative, 375-page compendium, Dr. James Whitney Hicks outlines the signs and symptoms of major mental illness. The book, organized alphabetically, gives concise information on coping with issues from anxiety to eating disorders.

Hicks, director of clinical services at the Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center in New York City, has a warm, gentle voice. He reminds us that everyone gets nervous, shy, impulsive or stressed out.

Some behaviors, however, cross the line and need medical attention. One example: Many people consider themselves germ-phobic. But if you develop elaborate rituals for flushing toilets, washing hands or using public bathrooms, you may be suffering from an obsessive-compulsive disorder, one of the most common illnesses behind depression.

Bottom line: This is an excellent starting point for understanding mental health. - Mary Beth Regan


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