What is Behavioral Health?


You’re not alone if you’re emotionally or psychologically challenged by everyday life. In any given year, one in five American adults experiences a behavioral health illness

Behavioral health refers to your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Behavioral health illnesses include disorders that result in abnormal thoughts, feelings, actions, and interactions with others. Despite their widespread occurrence, behavioral health disorders are often ignored because of the social stigma attached to these types of conditions. 

Unfortunately, behavioral health illnesses, like physical illnesses, don’t always improve on their own. Behavioral health illnesses include both mental and substance abuse conditions. Without appropriate treatment and therapy, these types of illnesses can potentially result in co-existing physical conditions, injuries to others, and self-harm.

You’ll benefit from behavioral health therapy when it’s administered by experienced and compassionate providers. Board-certified internist Chethana Rao, MD, and the clinical staff of Prima Medicine in Fairfax and South Riding, Virginia, guide patients in receiving appropriate treatment for behavioral health issues. 

Dr. Rao, Washingtonian magazine’s top doc in 2018, works to ensure that your behavioral health condition receives appropriate diagnosis and treatment so you can work toward overall well-being.

Find out whether you can benefit from behavioral health treatment by learning more about this important medical specialty.

Behavioral health vs. mental health

While the terms “behavioral health” and “mental health” can be used interchangeably, behavioral health includes disorders that affect both physical and mental wellness. Behavioral health disorders include both mental illnesses and those that incorporate physical conditions like substance abuse and eating disorders. 

The list of behavioral health illnesses is extensive. Some common disorders include:

  • Addictions
  • Anxiety
  • Anorexia
  • Bulimia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Personality disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD)
  • Schizophrenia

Behavioral health includes mental health treatment as well as the following types of services:

  • Psychiatric care
  • Marriage and family counseling
  • Prevention, treatment, and recovery of substance abuse illnesses
  • Chronic disease management

Signs of behavioral health disorders

You may not realize that you’re experiencing symptoms of a behavioral health illness. Or, perhaps you feel that something just isn’t right but you’re embarrassed or scared to ask for help. 

If you’ve had any of the following emotions, you may have a behavioral health disorder and could benefit from professional intervention:

  • Eating or sleeping significantly more or less than normal
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and social activities
  • Feeling that you have low or no energy
  • Feeling more irritable or annoyed all the time
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Feeling restless or difficulty sitting still
  • Thinking about suicide, death, or self-harm
  • Regularly drinking 15 or more alcoholic beverages a week for men or 8 for women

How behavioral health treatment can help

Behavioral health treatment usually begins with a screening. This involves a series of short questions that help identify concerns and help Dr. Rao determine if you require a more comprehensive examination for a behavioral health diagnosis.

If you’re diagnosed with a behavioral health condition, your treatment will depend on the type of condition you possess and other considerations such as your lifestyle, physical condition, and commitment to working toward wellness. 

Therapy, counseling, medication, supportive services, or a combination of these treatments may be appropriate. After treatment, recovery services can provide the support you need to move on and manage your condition effectively within the context of daily tasks and responsibilities. 

Find out how behavioral health treatment can make a difference in your daily life. Schedule an appointment online or call our office for a personal and confidential evaluation. 

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