Looking after our mental health is important because good mental health helps us to enjoy life to the full.

 

In 2011, 1 in 4 people sought help for a mental health problem; 39 million prescriptions for anti-depressants were administered and over 107,000 people spent time in hospital because of their mental health problem. That means 16 million of us had a mental health problem last year and so it’s not something to feel ashamed of.

 

Mental health doesn’t always stay the same and can change as circumstances change and as you move through different stages of your life. There are times when we all feel down,stressed or anxious. Most of the time those feelings pass but sometimes they don’t and  they can develop into a more serious problem. It’s something that could happen to any of us.  We are all different – some people seem able to bounce back from a setback while others may feel taken over by it.

 

Mental health problems cover a wide range of issues from everyday worries we all experience  to serious long-term conditions. Sometimes life experiences can lead to mental health problems.

 

 

 

Some common mental health problems are:

 

Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Anxiety is a feeling of unease. People who experience anxiety may feel tense, uncertain and sometimes fearful in a range of everyday situations. Severe anxiety can make it harder for a person to deal with everyday life, for example they may feel unable to leave the house. Those with high levels of anxiety can also experience panic attacks which could cause physical symptoms such as:

    • sweating
    • nausea
    • chest pains

These symptoms can often be confused with those of a heart attack.

 

If you feel that anxiety is impacting on your everyday life, your GP can advise on a range of interventions including medication and counselling. More information on anxiety and panic attacks

 

Bi-Polar Disorder

Bi-Polar or Manic Depression is a mood disorder with extreme mood swings – depression, low mood and mania which is an extreme high mood. Due to the fluctuation in mood Bi-polar Disorder has historically been hard to diagnose.

There is no definitive reason why Bi-Polar Disorder occurs but the following are thought to be contributing factors;

  • genetics
  • extreme stress
  • chemical imbalance in the brain

Bi-polar Disorder can be effectively managed for the majority of people. Bi-Polar Disorder may affect your ability to drive safely, so if you have Bi-Polar, you need to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) about your condition. More about Bipolar Disorder.

 

Depression

In a mild form, depression can make a person feel low in mood, with everyday tasks feeling harder to do and seeming to be less worthwhile. Severe depression, often called clinical depression, can be life threatening as individuals may become suicidal and give up the will to live. There is no one cause of depression and it can be caused by a range of life events, including bereavement, losing a job or experiencing a physical illness. A GP can advise on interventions to treat depression. This may include anti-depressant medication and other psychological therapies such as counselling or cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT).  More information on Depression

 

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD is an anxiety disorder and as the name suggests has two parts –  obsession and compulsion. The obsession is a repeated unwanted thought or urge and the compulsion is the need to repeat an activity over and over again. The majority of sufferers will have both but it is not un-common to have one without the other. Having a diagnosis of OCD will mean the problems are so severe that they are affecting your day to day living. Treatments consist of medications and talking therapies. More information on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

 

Postnatal Depression

This is a specific type of depression, experienced by mothers, which is linked to the birth of a baby. It can happen any time in the year after the birth. Symptoms may include feeling very low and despondent,  being unusually irritable or feeling indifferent or hostile to the baby. Postnatal Depression can be successfully treated using a range of interventions including counselling and medication. In the first instance, consult your GP or Health Visitor if you are concerned. Further information is available here.

 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder. It can develop immediately after a person experiences a disturbing event or it can occur weeks, months or even years later. PTSD can be successfully treated with medication and other interventions. PTSD may affect your ability to drive safely, so you need to inform the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) about your condition. See your G.P for more information or get more information  on Post Traumatic Stress.

 

Schizophrenia

A peron with schizophrenia may be unable to distinguish their own thoughts, ideas and perceptions from reality. They may experience positive symptoms such as:

  • hallucinations  – seeing, hearing or smelling things that others don’t
  • delusions – having strongly held beliefs that are not in line with what is generally accepted as reality.

Negative symptoms can present as lack of interest in everyday life, emotional flatness and an inability to concentrate.

 

Schizophrenia can be managed well with medication and the input of medical professionals such as a GP and Community Mental Health Team. Find out more about Schizophrenia.

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can take time to diagnose as it will take 2-3 winters before a person is said to have SAD. There is no confirmed reason why SAD occurs in some but not others. A person who is suffering with SAD may have some of the following symptoms;

  • Lack of energy
  • Depression
  • Prone to physical illnesses
  • Anxiety

SAD can be effectively managed with light boxes, which are available to hire from Andover Mind. Other interventions can also be helpful such as dietary changes, counselling and medication. Consult your GP for further advice or for more information clink on the following link Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

 

Self-harm

Self harm is a way of expressing deep distress. People may harm themselves in a variety of ways, including obvious ways such as  cutting themselves or  less obvious ways such as taking unnecessary risks or staying in an abusive relationship. A GP may offer a of range interventions, to someone who wishes to stop self-harming. This could include counselling or other forms of therapy such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT). If a person’s self-harming is severe, they may be referred to specialist psychiatric services for further treatment and support. Further information on self-harm.

 

The majority of people who experience mental health problems can get over them or learn to live with them, especially if they get help early on,  so don’t be afraid to talk about your mental health problem.

 

For further information, call our advice and information line 0300 5000 907.

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