How to stay sane, by Dr Raj Persaud
"In the western world, 48 per cent of adults suffer from a psychiatric disorder in their lives. Stay sane by dealing with problems: people become insane because they can't distract themselves from an unsolvable problem, or they don't try to solve a solvable problem. Change the external environment which is causing you the problem - that could be your work situation or your spouse, or your internal environment: your feelings about the stressful event you are in. Or do a bit of both. People say, `The boss is driving me mad.' But, in psychiatry, we believe that you drive yourself mad because of your reaction to the boss. Life-partner selection is crucial in terms of staying sane. When you are dating, you present yourself in your best light because you are trying to be attractive. The trouble is you don't bother the person with personal crises, so you don't share the negative side of yourself. In fact, you need to see how they respond when you are not at your best because if they turn out not to be supportive, you are going to need a therapist. When asked to nominate the thing that makes them most happy, the most common response from the British population is taking a video out and having a pizza. That will make you happy but only for a short while. The more cognitive intellectual side of happiness is the life satisfaction approach - when you examine your life, you feel content with where you've come from and where you're heading. That approach to happiness is much more permanent"

Dr Raj Persaud is a consultant psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital. His book, `Staying Sane', is published by Metro, pounds 17.99