1 in 4 people sought help for a mental health problem last year; 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 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 such as these can lead to mental health problems:

  • bereavement
  • divorce and relationship issues
  • Pregnancy
  • abuse
  • debt and money worries
  • work issues and redundancy

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.

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.

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).

Obsessive compulsive disorder

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 uncommon 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.

Post-natal depression

This is a specific type of depression, experienced by mothers and 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.

Post-natal 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.

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.

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