Common mental health conditions...
Common mental health conditions...
Mental health conditions impact millions of people worldwide, and it’s essential to recognize the signs and symptoms to seek proper treatment. Some common mental health conditions include anxiety disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, and substance use disorders. These conditions often present similar symptoms, making diagnosis complex. Once diagnosed, a person-centred treatment plan should be put in place by the diagnosing medical professionals.
It’s crucial to seek help if you or someone you know is experiencing any of these conditions. With proper treatment and support, individuals can effectively manage these conditions and improve their quality of life.
Below is a brief overview of some common conditions.
A phobia represents an overwhelming and paralysing fear of an object, place, situation, emotion, or creature.
Phobias stand out as more intense than regular fears. They arise when an individual possesses an exaggerated or irrational perception of danger related to a particular situation or object.
In cases where a phobia becomes extremely severe, an individual might rearrange their life to evade the source of their anxiety. This not only limits their daily activities but also brings about considerable distress.
Signs of a Phobia:
A phobia is categorised as a form of anxiety disorder. Symptoms may not manifest until the individual encounters the source of their phobia.
Generalised Anxiety and Depression (GAD)
Anxiety encompasses feelings of unease, ranging from mild worry to intense fear. It’s a common experience that everyone encounters at various points in their lives. For instance, facing an exam, undergoing a medical test, or attending a job interview can trigger worrisome and apprehensive emotions.
In such circumstances, experiencing anxiety is a normal human reaction. However, certain individuals grapple with challenges in managing their concerns. Their anxiety remains persistent, significantly impacting their day-to-day activities.
Anxiety serves as a key symptom for multiple conditions, including:
- Panic disorder
- Phobias like agoraphobia or claustrophobia
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)
This section specifically focuses on a particular condition known as generalised anxiety disorder (GAD).
GAD is a chronic condition characterised by pervasive anxiety concerning a wide array of situations and matters, rather than being tied to a single event. Individuals with GAD find themselves grappling with anxiety on most days, often struggling to recall the last time they experienced a sense of relaxation.
Once one anxious thought is resolved, another might swiftly emerge regarding a different concern.
Anxiety disorders form a cluster of psychological ailments marked by an overwhelming sense of fear, unease, or apprehension. The impact of anxiety can vary from mild to severe, disrupting a person’s capacity to carry out their everyday activities. Among the recognized types of anxiety disorders are generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and specific phobias.
The symptoms of anxiety disorders vary depending on the person and their specific type of anxiety disorder, but common symptoms include:
- Constant and overwhelming apprehension or dread concerning routine situations or occurrences.
- Avoidance of specific situations, circumstances or locations
- Struggles with managing worry or fear
- Physical symptoms including an accelerated heartbeat, perspiration, tremors, and respiratory distress
- Experiencing unease, restlessness, or irritability
- Fatigue or difficulty sleeping
- Difficulty maintaining focus or concentration on tasks.
Bipolar disorder stands as a distinctive mental health condition that significantly impacts one’s emotional states, ranging from one extreme to its opposing counterpart. In the past, it was recognized by the name “manic depression.”
Individuals grappling with bipolar disorder often experience fluctuations in their moods, with episodes of depression being more frequent in some cases, while in others, episodes of mania might take precedence. Moreover, intermittent periods of relatively stable and “normal” moods can manifest between these contrasting phases of emotional intensity.
The patterns are not always the same and some people may experience:
- rapid cycling – wherein a person with bipolar disorder swiftly shifts between high and low phases.
- mixed state – where someone with bipolar disorder endures a combination of depressive and manic symptoms, such as heightened activity coupled with a melancholic mood.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, manifests as a form of depression that ebbs and flows with the changing seasons.
Termed the “winter depression,” this condition tends to present more prominently and intensely during the colder months. Interestingly, a subset of individuals with SAD may experience symptoms during the summertime but find relief and improvement as winter arrives.
Symptoms of SAD can include:
- A persistent low mood
- Diminished enjoyment or engagement in routine activities
- Increased irritability
- Overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, self-blame, and insignificance
- Persistent lethargy and daytime drowsiness
- Prolonged sleep duration and difficulty waking up early
- Heightened desire for carbohydrates leading to weight gain
- Trouble focusing
- Reduced libido
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) emerges as an anxiety condition stemming from intensely distressing and alarming incidents.
The harrowing experiences that individuals find profoundly traumatic possess the potential to trigger PTSD. It may manifest soon after a disturbing event or remain dormant, surfacing weeks, months, or even years after the occurrence.
Approximately one in three individuals encountering trauma are believed to be impacted by PTSD, though the precise reasons why some individuals develop this condition while others do not still elude full comprehension.
- Reliving the past through vivid flashbacks, haunting nightmares, and repetitive distressing images or sensations.
- Engaging in avoidance and emotional numbness as a coping mechanism. This might involve staying away from specific people or places that trigger memories of the trauma and refraining from discussing the experience with others.
- Hyperarousal, a state of being constantly on edge, often resulting in irritability, angry outbursts, difficulty sleeping (insomnia), and challenges with concentration.
- Potential co-occurring mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or phobias may arise in response to the traumatic event.
- Individuals may resort to self-harming or destructive behaviors, including drug misuse or alcohol abuse, as a way to cope with overwhelming emotions.
- Other physical symptoms may manifest, such as headaches, dizziness, chest pains, or stomach aches, reflecting the impact of the trauma on both the mind and body.
Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions. It is characterised by persistent sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest that interfere with daily life. Symptoms range from mild to severe and can last for weeks to years without treatment. Recognising symptoms early and seeking help is critical for recovery.
While many people occasionally feel down, depression is enduring sadness lasting weeks or months, not just brief periods.
Common physical symptoms include: fatigue and low energy; appetite and weight changes; sleep disturbances; digestive issues; headaches; and unexplained pains. While these physical symptoms may have other causes, their co-occurrence with emotional symptoms can indicate depression.
The key is tuning into body cues. An ongoing symptom checklist helps identify patterns signalling it’s time to get help from a mental health professional or speak to us where our dedicated team of volunteers can advise you on the best way to deal with depression. Openly discussing concerns with trusted friends can bring clarity. Addressing challenges before they escalate promotes wellness.
Symptoms of depression:
- Fatigue and low energy
- Appetite and weight changes
- Sleep disturbances
- Digestive issues
- Headaches and unexplained pains
Stress is the natural response of our body when it senses a potential threat or pressure.
During these moments, our body triggers the release of adrenaline, often known as the “fight or flight” hormone. This hormone is meant to provide us with an extra push or a quick response to the situation.
Nevertheless, an excessive amount of stress can take a toll on our emotional state, physical well-being, and relationships, particularly when we perceive it as beyond our control. Feelings of anxiety and irritability may arise, affecting our self-esteem.
Prolonged exposure to stress or severe stress can result in a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion commonly referred to as “burnout.”
- Irritability, anger, or a tendency to weep
- Feelings of concern, unease, despair, or apprehension
- Challenges in decision-making, experience rapid thought patterns, or feel inundated
- Bodily discomfort, such as gastrointestinal issues, tension headaches, and peculiar muscular sensations
- Skin-related responses, such as stress-induced rashes or hives
- Sensations of dizziness, queasiness, or a propensity to faint.
An eating disorder represents a psychological condition wherein an individual resorts to manipulating their food intake as a means of dealing with emotions and various circumstances.
Unfavourable eating habits may encompass consuming excessive or inadequate amounts of food, as well as becoming excessively preoccupied with body weight and shape.
The most common eating disorders are:
- Anorexia nervosa – attempting to regulate one’s weight by restricting food intake or engaging in excessive exercise, or sometimes both.
- Bulimia – a loss of control over eating habits, followed by extreme measures to prevent weight gain.
- Binge eating disorder (BED) – consuming large quantities of food until feeling uncomfortably full.
A person with a personality disorder thinks, feels, behaves or relates to others very differently from the average person.
For example, a person with borderline personality disorder (one of the most common types) tends to have disturbed ways of thinking, impulsive behaviour and problems controlling their emotions.
They may have intense but unstable relationships and worry about people abandoning them.
A person with antisocial personality disorder will typically get easily frustrated and have difficulty controlling their anger.
They may blame other people for problems in their life, and be aggressive and violent, upsetting others with their behaviour.