Mental health problems cause people to think and feel differently from how they usually do.
There are many different types of mental health conditions and disorders, and a wide range of symptoms within each of them. They can be experienced on a sliding scale from mild to severe, and short-term to longer-term; with some being quite serious.
It’s important for everybody to look after their wellbeing. Mental ill-health can happen to anyone, and it can strongly affect a person’s behaviour, physical health, relationships, ability to do work, and even their feelings and perceptions of the world. With the right support, things can improve.
Digital mental health resources can often be just as effective as talking to someone face-to-face. If you’re not comfortable talking to someone in person, that may be the way to go. Whatever you choose, trust is a very important factor.
What are the different types of Mental Health issues?
Depression is a feeling of low mood that lasts for a long time and affects your everyday life. It can make you feel hopeless, despairing, guilty, worthless, unmotivated and exhausted. It can affect your self-esteem, sleep, appetite, sex drive and, sometimes, your physical health. In its mildest form, depression doesn’t stop you leading a normal life, but it makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. At its most severe, depression can make you feel suicidal, and be life-threatening.
“Depression feels like I am locked in a black room inside myself”
Anxiety refers to strong feelings of unease, worry and fear. Because occasional anxiety is a normal human experience, it’s sometimes hard to know when it’s becoming a mental health problem – but if your feelings of anxiety are very strong, or last for a long time, they can be overwhelming.
You might experience:
• constant worrying about things that are a regular part of everyday life, or about things that aren’t likely to happen.
• unpleasant physical symptoms such as sleep problems, panic attacks, an increased heartbeat, an upset stomach, muscle tension or feeling shaky.
• a specific anxiety disorder, such as generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, a phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Bipolar disorder mainly affects your mood. With this diagnosis you are likely to have times when you experience:
• manic or hypomanic episodes (feeling high)
• depressive episodes (feeling low)
• potentially some psychotic symptoms during manic or depressed episodes.
Panic attacks are an exaggeration of your body’s normal response to fear, stress or excitement. These are bouts of intense, often very frightening symptoms, usually lasting between 5 and 20 minutes. You may experience overwhelming physical sensations, such as:
• a pounding heartbeat or chest pains • sweating and nausea (feeling sick)
• feeling faint and unable to breathe
• shaky limbs, or feeling like your legs are turning to jelly. It’s easy to mistake these for the signs of a heart attack or another serious medical problem.
“I’d hyperventilate and cry with panic as the feeling that I was going to fall unconscious was so convincing.”
So how should I ask for help?
It’s common to feel unsure about seeking support for your mental health, and to feel like you ought to wait until you can’t handle things on your own. But it’s always ok for you to seek help – even if you’re not sure you are experiencing a specific mental health problem. The best way to start is normally by making an appointment to talk to a health care professional, such as your doctor. Your friends and family may be able to offer you support day-to-day, but only your doctor can make a diagnosis, prescribe you medication or refer you to other NHS treatments and services. If you feel like you are or a loved one are experiencing any kind of mental health problem, you are not alone. Reach out to a friend or family member. If you aren’t comfortable with that, try one of the links below.
Telephone: 116 123 (24 hours a day, free to call)
Telephone: 0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm Monday to Friday)
Web site: www.mind.org.uk/help/advice_lines
Telephone: 0300 304 7000 (4:30pm-10:30pm)
Telephone: 0300 5000 927 (9.30am – 4pm Monday to Friday)