Mental Health

Mental Health

What is "Mental Health"?

Mental health can be defined in a variety of ways depending on which organisation you follow.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Mental health is not just the absence of mental disorder. Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. Multiple social, psychological, and biological factors determine the level of mental health of a person at any point of time. For example, violence and persistent socio-economic pressures are recognised risks to mental health.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, if you’re in good mental health you can: make the most of your potential, cope with life, and play a full part in your family, workplace, community and among friends. Your mental health doesn’t always stay the same; it can change as circumstances change and as you move through different stages of your life.

According to Mind UK, good mental health means being generally able to think, feel and react in the ways that you need and want to live your life. But if you go through a period of poor mental health you might find the ways you're frequently thinking, feeling or reacting become difficult, or even impossible, to cope with. This can feel just as bad as a physical illness, or even worse.

The important points we want to highlight from the above definitions are:

  • mental health changes/fluctuates throughout life

  • there are numerous socio-economic, environmental and biological factors which can affect mental health

  • everyone experiences mental health differently

  • mental health is an integral part of overall health and is just as important as physical health

  • mental health problems are nothing to be ashamed of

 

 

Mental Health and HoW College

Here at HoW College we understand that not all health issues are visible, and we strive to take mental health just as seriously as physical health conditions. According to Mind UK, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England. Even though mental health problems have been on the rise in recent years, only 1 in 8 adults are currently getting treatment for their mental health problems; that’s why we want to help break any stigmas surrounding seeking help.

Mental health is something we take very seriously and want those within our community to take seriously too. Feeling as though you may need help and support is nothing to be ashamed of, and we encourage everyone to take their mental wellbeing just as seriously as their physical wellbeing.

We have numerous systems of support in place which can be accessed via our campus welfare teams (Worcester and Malvern, welfarew&m@howcollege.ac.uk, and Redditch and Bromsgrove welfarer&b@howcollege.ac.uk). Mental health support is available for both diagnosed and non-diagnosed mental health difficulties and learning disabilities. Individualised interventions and support packages will ensure that students gain a better understanding of their changed mental health needs over time. Priorities include ensuring students receive optimal help to promote positive psychological wellbeing through the delivery of one-to-one therapeutic intervention; this is achieved by aiding the development of self-awareness, practical coping strategies, and providing a safe space to explore feelings or emotions with a view to further develop student’s resilience. We have a duty of care to safeguard all our learners and our aim is to empower and equip all students with the skills needed to keep themselves safe and to achieve and reach their full potential. 

To help raise awareness for various mental health conditions and their symptoms, we’ve created this page to share definitions, terminology, and support resources. Below, you can find more information on mental health from leading bodies (such as the NHS, WHO and Mind UK), as well as a wide variety of support and further learning resources. What is included on this page may not be considered extensive; however, we hope it will provide a good foundation for understanding mental health conditions, will encourage those within our college community to learn more, and will help start important conversations which will help in breaking the stigmas around mental health.

 

 

Types of Mental Health Conditions and Mental Health Related Problems

Mental health problems affect around 1 in 4 people in any given year, and they range from common problems, such as depression and anxiety, to rarer problems such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Below, you will find a list of different mental health related problems and how they will affect someone’s life.

Important Reminder:

It can be upsetting and potentially triggering to read information about sensitive mental health topics. If you are feeling vulnerable at the moment, you may not want to read the following section of this webpage or you may want to read it with a trusted friend or family member for support. Each drop down-box contains links to information and support resources relevant for the given condition, and you can find further contact information for support charities/organisations at the bottom of this webpage too.

Anger

(according to Mind UK) - Anger is a normal, healthy emotion. Feelings of anger arise due to how we interpret and react to certain situations. Everyone has their own triggers for what makes them angry, such as if we feel attacked, deceived, frustrated, invalidated or unfairly treated. It isn't necessarily a 'bad' emotion; in fact, it can sometimes be useful. For example, feeling angry about something can:

  • help us identify problems or things that are hurting us
  • motivate us to create change, achieve our goals, and move on
  • help us stay safe and defend ourselves in dangerous situations by giving us a burst of energy as part of our fight or flight system

Most people will experience episodes of anger which feel manageable and don't have a big impact on their lives. Anger only becomes a problem when it gets out of control and harms you or people around you. This can happen when:

  • you regularly express your anger through unhelpful or destructive behaviour
  • your anger is having a negative impact on your overall mental and physical health
  • anger becomes your go-to emotion, blocking out your ability to feel other emotions
  • you haven't developed healthy ways to express your anger

However, not everyone expresses anger in the same way. For example, some unhelpful ways you may have learned to express anger include:

Outward aggression and violence - such as shouting, swearing, slamming doors, hitting or throwing things and being physically violent or verbally abusive and threatening towards others.

Inward aggression - such as telling yourself that you hate yourself, denying yourself your basic needs (like food, or things that might make you happy), cutting yourself off from the world and self-harming.

Non-violent or passive aggression - such as ignoring people or refusing to speak to them, and being sarcastic or sulky while not saying anything explicitly aggressive or angry. It can also include refusing to do tasks, or deliberately doing them poorly and leaving them to the last possible minute.

If you feel you do not handle anger in a healthy manner and that it is beginning to affect your own mental health (and the health of those around you), you may wish to seek help. Mind UK have created a support page to help identify various methods you can try to implement to cope with your anger; click here to learn more.

Anxiety Disorders

(according to the NHS) - Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life, but some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives. Anxiety tends to be the main symptom of disorders such as panic disorders, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social anxiety disorder and general anxiety disorder (GAD).

GAD is a long-term condition that causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event. People with GAD feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed. GAD can cause both psychological (mental) and physical symptoms which can vary from person to person, but can include:

  • feeling restless or worried
  • having trouble concentrating or sleeping
  • dizziness or heart palpitations

According to Mind UK, anxiety can become a mental health problem if it impacts your ability to live your life as fully as you want to. For example, it may be a problem if:

  • your feelings of anxiety are very strong or last for a long time
  • your fears or worries are out of proportion to the situation
  • you avoid situations that might cause you to feel anxious
  • your worries feel very distressing or are hard to control
  • you regularly experience symptoms of anxiety, which could include panic attacks
  • you find it hard to go about your everyday life or do things you enjoy

If you feel you may be suffering from a form of anxiety, speak to your GP about potential treatment options. Likewise, you can also visit the Mind UK website where you can find pages on self-care and information on treatment for anxiety.

Bipolar Disorder

(according to the NHS) – a mental health condition that affects your moods, which can swing from one extreme to another. It used to be known as manic depression. People with bipolar disorder have episodes of depression (feeling very low and lethargic) and mania (feeling very high and overactive), and symptoms of the disorder depend on which mood you're experiencing. Unlike simple mood swings, each extreme episode of bipolar disorder can last for several weeks (or even longer).

If you feel you may have a type of bipolar disorder, speak to your GP for more information on diagnosis and treatment. Alternatively, visit the Mind UK website to learn more about the various forms of treatments by clicking here.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

(according to Mind UK) - Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is an anxiety disorder related to body image. You might be given a diagnosis of BDD if you:

Experience obsessive worries about one or more perceived flaws in your physical appearance, and the flaw cannot be seen by others or appears very slight.

Develop compulsive behaviours and routines, such as excessive use of mirrors or picking your skin, to deal with the worries you have about the way you look.

If you have BDD, these obsessions and behaviours cause emotional distress and have a significant impact on your ability to carry on with your day-to-day life. In this way, BDD is closely related to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). BDD can vary in severity from person to person and from day-to-day. For some of us, concerns around appearance may make it difficult to go out in public or see other people; this can have an impact on our work life and relationships with other people. BDD can also lead to other mental health related issues such as anxiety, depression, feelings of shame, guilt or loneliness, misuse of alcohol and other drugs, eating disorders, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts.

Many people with BDD do not seek help because they are worried that people will judge them or think they are vain. This means that many people with BDD are likely to experience it for a long time before seeking support. If you feel you may be suffering from BDD, speak with your GP about potential treatments. Alternatively, visit the Mind UK page to learn more about symptoms, possible treatments, and self-care tips by clicking here.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

(according to Mind UK) - Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a type of personality disorder. You might be diagnosed with a personality disorder if you have difficulties with how you think and feel about yourself and other people and are having problems in your life as a result. You might be given a diagnosis of BPD if you experience at least five of the following things, and they've lasted for a long time or have a big impact on your daily life:

  • you feel very worried about people abandoning you and would do anything to stop that happening
  • you have very intense emotions that last from a few hours to a few days and can change quickly (for example, from feeling very happy and confident to suddenly feeling low and sad)
  • you don't have a strong sense of who you are, and it can change significantly depending on who you're with
  • you find it very hard to make and keep stable relationships
  • you feel empty a lot of the time
  • you act impulsively and do things that could harm you (such as binge eating, using drugs or driving dangerously)
  • you often self-harm or have suicidal feelings
  • you have very intense feelings of anger, which are really difficult to control
  • when very stressed, you may also experience paranoia or dissociation

Because you only need to experience five of these difficulties to be given a diagnosis of BPD or EUPD (emotionally unstable personality disorder), it can be a very broad diagnosis which includes lots of different people with very different experiences. Some people find it helpful to have a diagnosis because they feel it explains and helps people to understand their difficulties or gives them a sense of relief and validation. Others feel their diagnosis isn't helpful, disagreeing entirely with the current system of diagnosing personality disorders and finding it stigmatising and unhelpful. For example, some people prefer not to describe their experiences as medical problems or would rather see them as a response to difficult life events. The Mind UK page on why personality disorder is a controversial diagnosis has more information.

If you feel you may have BPD or EUPD, speak with your GP about potential treatment options. Alternatively, you can visit the Mind UK page which contains information on treatment and self-care by clicking here.

Depression/Clinical Depression

(according to the NHS) – Most people go through periods of feeling down, but when you're depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days. Depression affects people in different ways and can cause a wide variety of symptoms which range from lasting feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness, to losing interest in the things you used to enjoy and feeling very tearful. Many people with depression also have symptoms of anxiety and there can be physical symptoms too, such as feeling constantly tired, sleeping badly, having no appetite or sex drive, and various aches and pains.

The symptoms of depression range from mild to severe; at its mildest, you may simply feel persistently low in spirit, while severe depression can make you feel suicidal, that life is no longer worth living. Sometimes there's a trigger for depression like life-changing events, such as bereavement, losing your job or giving birth. People with a family history of depression are more likely to experience it themselves, but you can also become depressed for no obvious reason.

It's important to seek help from a GP if you think you may be depressed. You can find out more information on depression, the treatment options, and self-care tips, by visiting the Mind UK website; just click here.

Dissociation/Dissociative Disorders

(according to Mind UK) – Many people may experience dissociation (dissociate) during their life. If you dissociate, you may feel disconnected from yourself and the world around you. For example, you may feel detached from your body or feel as though the world around you is unreal; everyone’s experience of dissociation is different.

Dissociation is one way the mind copes with too much stress, such as during a traumatic event. Experiences of dissociation can last for a relatively short time (hours or days) or for much longer (weeks or months). If you dissociate for a long time, especially when you are young, you may develop a dissociative disorder. Instead of dissociation being something you experience for a short time it becomes a far more common experience and is often the main way you deal with stressful experiences. Some individuals cannot control their dissociation and it is a natural response to trauma; others consciously decide to dissociate as a way to calm down and focus on a task. Dissociation can also occur as a symptom of other mental health issues such as depression, PTSD, bipolar etc., or even as a side effect of alcohol or coming off of drugs.

Those who experience dissociation regularly may be diagnosed with a dissociative disorder. Click the following links to learn more about each type:

If you feel you may be suffering from dissociation or a dissociative disorder, speak with your GP about treatment options. Alternatively, visit the Mind UK website to learn more about symptoms, treatments, and self-care tips; just click here.

Eating Problems and Eating Disorders

(according to Mind UK) – An eating problem is any relationship with food that you find difficult. Many people think that someone with an eating problem will be over or underweight, and people might also think that certain weights are linked to certain eating problems. Neither of these points are true. Anyone can experience eating problems regardless of age, gender, weight or background.

An eating disorder is a medical diagnosis. This diagnosis is based on your eating patterns and includes medical tests on your weight, blood and body mass index (BMI). Such disorders can include bulimia, anorexia, binge eating disorder, other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED), and other feeding and eating problems. More information can be found from Mind UK by clicking here.

An eating problem is any relationship with food that you find difficult. This can be just as hard to live with as a diagnosed eating disorder.

If you have an eating problem you might feel depressed, anxious, tired a lot of the time, ashamed, guilty, or scared of other people finding out. You might find that:

  • it's hard to concentrate on your work, studies or hobbies
  • controlling food or eating has become the most important thing in your life
  • it's hard to be spontaneous, to travel or to go anywhere new
  • your appearance is changing or has changed
  • you are bullied or teased about food and eating
  • you develop short or long-term physical health problems
  • you want to avoid socialising, dates and restaurants or eating in public
  • you have to drop out of school or college, leave work or stop doing things you enjoy.

If you feel you may have an eating problem, always seek help. Many avoid seeking help through fear their problem is not serious enough or because they feel they’re not “ill” enough. If your relationship with food and eating is affecting your life, you can and should seek help from your GP; it doesn't matter how much you weigh or what your body looks like. Likewise, you can find more information on symptoms, treatment and self-care via the Mind UK website by clicking here.

Hearing Voices

(according to Mind UK) - We might say someone is ‘hearing voices’ if you hear a voice when no-one is present with you, or which other people with you cannot hear. People have many different experiences of hearing voices. Some people don't mind their voices or simply find them irritating or distracting, while others find them frightening or intrusive. It's common to think that if you hear voices you must have a mental health problem; however, research shows that lots of people hear voices and many of them are not mentally unwell. It’s a relatively common human experience.

There are lots of different ways we all hear voices. For example, you might:

  • hear your name called when there is no one with you
  • hear or see things as you are falling asleep
  • experience the voices as being in your head
  • feel voices are coming from outside and heard through your ears like other sounds
  • feel as if you are hearing other people’s thoughts or as if other people can hear your thoughts
  • experience nasty or threatening voices that tell you to do dangerous and unacceptable things or try to control you
  • hear a voice that feels friendly but encourages you to do things that might not be good for you
  • hear a kind supportive voice or a voice that helps you
  • hear more than one voice and they may talk or argue with each other

You may hear voices during the following times:

As you fall asleep or wake up – these are to do with your brain being partly in a dreaming state. The voice might call your name or say something brief. You might also see strange things or misinterpret things you can see. These experiences usually stop as soon as you are fully awake.

Lack of sleep – sleep problems cause you to hear voices or have other sensory experiences that you can't explain in everyday ways.

Hunger – you may hear voices if you are very hungry or if you haven't eaten much recently.

Physical illness – if you have a high temperature and are delirious you may hear voices or see and say strange things.

Drugs – you may hear or see things after taking recreational drugs or as a side effect of some prescribed drugs. You might also have these experiences when you are coming off drugs.

Stress or worry – you may hear voices while feeling very stressed, anxious or worried.

Bereavement – if you have recently lost someone very close, you may hear them talking to you or feel that they are with you. This experience is very common, and some people find it comforting.

Abuse or bullying – you may start hearing voices after being abused or bullied. This can include hearing the voice of someone who abused you being unkind or threatening or ordering you to harm yourself or do things that you know are wrong.

Other traumatic experiences – you may hear voices as a result of other traumas, which can be associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and with dissociative disorders.

Spiritual experiences – some people hear a voice as part of a spiritual experience. This may be a very special experience and one that you feel helps you make sense of your life. Or you may feel as though you are hearing the voice of an evil spirit.

Mental health problems – you may hear voices as a symptom of some mental health problems, including psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder or severe depression.

If you feel you may be hearing voices, Mind UK have help pages where you can learn more on how to live with voices, how to manage hearing voices, and also treatments available. Click here to learn more. Alternatively, you can speak with your GP about potential treatments if hearing voices is causing you distress.

Hoarding

(according to Mind UK) - Hoarding is acquiring or saving lots of things regardless of their value. If you hoard, you might:

  • have very strong positive feelings whenever you get more items
  • feel very upset or anxious at the thought of throwing or giving things away
  • find it very hard to decide what to keep or get rid of

Hoarding is when your need to keep things causes you distress or interferes with your day-to-day life, and it is increasingly being recognised that hoarding can be a condition by itself, as well as sometimes being a symptom of other mental health problems.

If you think you might be hoarding, visit the Mind UK website for tips and information on self-care strategies and treatment; just click here. Alternatively, you can visit your GP for more information on treatments.

Hypomania and Mania

(according to Mind UK) - Hypomania and mania are periods of over-active and excited behaviour that can have a significant impact on your day-to-day life.

Hypomania is a milder version of mania that lasts for a short period; it usually lasts for a few days and can feel more manageable than mania. It can still have a disruptive effect on your life and people may notice a change in your mood and behaviour. However, you will usually be able to continue with your daily activities without these being too badly affected. Symptoms of hypomania can include (but are not limited to):

  • feeling happy, euphoric or a sense of wellbeing
  • feeling very excited, like you can't get your words out fast enough
  • being irritable and agitated
  • easily distracted
  • being more active than usual
  • talking a lot or speaking very quickly
  • sleeping less
  • spending money excessively
  • loss of social inhibitions

Mania is a more severe form that lasts for a longer period (usually a week or more) and has a severe negative impact on your ability to do your usual day-to-day activities. This can include disrupting or stopping these activities completely. Severe mania is very serious, and often needs to be treated in hospital. Symptoms of mania include (but are not limited to):

  • feeling happy, euphoric or a sense of wellbeing
  • feeling very excited, like you can't get your words out fast enough
  • being irritable and agitated
  • easily distracted
  • very confident and adventurous
  • like your untouchable and can’t be harmed
  • feeling you understand, see or hear things others can’t
  • like you can perform mental and physical tasks better than normal
  • being more active than usual
  • talking a lot or speaking very quickly
  • being very friendly
  • being very rude or aggressive
  • sleeping less or not at all
  • misuse of drugs and alcohol
  • spending money excessively
  • loss of social inhibitions
  • taking serious risks with your safety

You might have hypomania and/or mania on their own or as part of some mental health problems – including bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder, postpartum psychosis or schizoaffective disorder. Some people find hypomania and mania enjoyable; others find them very uncomfortable, distressing or unpleasant.

After a hypomanic or manic episode, you might:

  • feel very unhappy or ashamed about how you behaved
  • have made commitments or taken on responsibilities that now feel unmanageable
  • have only a few clear memories of what happened while you were hypomanic or manic, or none at all
  • feel very tired and need a lot of sleep and rest
  • if you experience hypomania or mania as part of another mental health problem, such as bipolar disorder or schizoaffective disorder, you may find that the episode is followed by a period of depression

If you feel you may be experiencing or have experienced mania/hypomania, you should speak with your GP about potential treatment options. Mind UK also have self-care, treatment, and friends and family support pages on their website, which can be found by clicking here.

Loneliness

(according to Mind UK) - One common description of loneliness is the feeling we get when our need for rewarding social contact and relationships is not met. However, loneliness is not always the same as being alone. You may choose to be alone and live happily without much contact with other people, while others may find this a lonely experience. You may have lots of social contact or be in a relationship or part of a family, and still feel lonely, especially if you don't feel understood or cared for by the people around you. Feeling lonely isn't in itself a mental health problem, but the two are strongly linked.

Reasons you may feel lonely include (but are not limited to):

  • experiencing a bereavement
  • going through a relationship break-up
  • retiring and losing the social contact you had at work
  • changing jobs and feeling isolated from your co-workers
  • starting at university
  • moving to a new area or country without family, friends or community networks
  • certain times of year can elicit feelings of lonely, such as at Christmas

If you feel you may be experiencing loneliness, visit the Mind UK page where you will find tips on managing loneliness. Click here to learn more.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

(according to the NHS) – OCD is a common mental health condition where a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. OCD can be distressing and significantly interfere with your life, but treatment can help you keep it under control. If you have OCD, you'll usually experience frequent obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.

An obsession is an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters your mind, causing feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease.

A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that you feel you need to do to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought.

For example, someone with an obsessive fear of being burgled may feel they need to check all the windows and doors are locked several times before they can leave their house.

Causes for OCD can include:

  • personal experiences such as childhood trauma, abuse and bullying
  • if your parents or relatives have similar anxieties (learned behaviour)
  • a reaction to ongoing stress and anxieties, or being part of a stressful event such as a car accident
  • pregnancy or giving birth
  • personality traits and biological factors (suggested by some researchers)

Symptoms of OCD can include:

  • fear of causing or failing to prevent harm
  • intrusive thoughts, images and impulses
  • fear of contamination
  • fears related to order or symmetry

If you feel you may be suffering from OCD, speak with your GP to learn more about treatment options. Alternatively, visit the Mind UK website to access their help pages on self-care and treatment for OCD; just click here.

Panic Attacks

(according to Mind UK) - Panic attacks are a type of fear response. They're an exaggeration of your body's normal response to danger, stress or excitement. During a panic attack, physical symptoms can build up very quickly. These can include:

  • a pounding or racing heartbeat
  • feeling faint, dizzy or light-headed
  • feeling very hot or very cold
  • sweating, trembling or shaking
  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • pain in your chest or abdomen
  • struggling to breathe or feeling like you're choking
  • feeling like your legs are shaky or are turning to jelly
  • feeling disconnected from your mind, body or surroundings (types of dissociation)

During a panic attack you might feel very afraid that you're losing control, going to faint, having a heart attack or going to die. You might find that you become scared of going out alone or to public places because you're worried about having another panic attack. If this fear becomes very intense, it may be called agoraphobia.

If you feel you may be suffering from panic attacks, speak with your GP about potential treatment options. Alternatively, visit the Mind UK website where you can find help pages on treatments, self-care, and support; just click here.

Paranoia

(according to Mind UK) - Paranoia is thinking and feeling like you are being threatened in some way, even if there is no evidence, or very little evidence, that you are. Paranoid thoughts can also be described as delusions and can come in the form of exaggerated suspicions. Everyone has a different experience of paranoia, which may include the following reasons. You might think that:

  • you are being talked about behind your back or watched by people or organisations (either on or offline)
  • other people are trying to make you look bad or exclude you
  • you are at risk of being physically harmed or killed
  • people are using hints and double meanings to secretly threaten you or make you feel bad
  • other people are deliberately trying to upset or irritate you
  • people are trying to take your money or possessions
  • your actions or thoughts are being interfered with by others
  • you are being controlled or that the government is targeting you

Paranoia is a symptom of some mental health problems but not a diagnosis itself. Paranoid thoughts can be anything from very mild to very severe, and these experiences can be quite different for everybody.

If you feel you may be suffering from paranoid thoughts, speak to your GP. Alternatively, you can visit the Mind UK website and visit their self-help and treatment pages for more information; just click here.

 

 

Perinatal Mental Health

(according to Mind UK) – A 'perinatal' mental health problem is one that you experience any time from becoming pregnant up to a year after you give birth. Having a baby is a big life event and it's natural to experience a range of emotions during pregnancy and after giving birth. But if any difficult feelings start to have a big effect on your day-to-day life, you might be experiencing a perinatal mental health problem. The most common perinatal mental health problems include perinatal anxiety, perinatal depression, perinatal OCD, postpartum psychosis, and postpartum PTSD. For more information on each individual perinatal condition, click here to visit the Mind UK website.

If you experience depression during/after pregnancy, you may be diagnosed with one of the following terms:

Antenatal depression – while you are pregnant.

Postnatal depression (PND) – during roughly the first year after giving birth.

Perinatal depression – any time from becoming pregnant to around one year after giving birth.

Some of the common signs and symptoms of perinatal depression include feeling:

  • down, upset or tearful
  • restless, agitated or irritable
  • guilty, worthless and down on yourself
  • empty and numb
  • isolated and unable to relate to other people
  • finding no pleasure in life or things you usually enjoy
  • a sense of unreality
  • no self-confidence or self-esteem
  • hopeless and despairing
  • hostile or indifferent to your partner
  • hostile or indifferent to your baby
  • suicidal feelings

If you may be worried for your perinatal mental health, speak with your GP for information on treatment options. Mind UK also have several help and information pages surrounding perinatal mental health; click here to learn more.

Personality Disorders

(according to Mind UK) - Our personality is the collection of thoughts, feelings and behaviours that makes each of us the individuals we are. However, if you experience significant difficulties in how you relate to yourself and others and have problems coping day-to-day, you may receive a diagnosis of personality disorder.

You might be given a diagnosis of personality disorder if all of these apply:

  • The way you think, feel and behave causes you significant problems in daily life. For example, you may feel unable to trust others or you may often feel abandoned, causing you or others distress in day-to-day relationships.
  • You experience these problems across different aspects of your life. For example, you may struggle to start or keep friendships, to control your feelings and behaviour, or get on with people. There may be an intensity to your emotions that makes them feel frightening and overwhelming sometimes.
  • These problems continue for a long time. These difficult patterns may have started when you were a child or teenager and can carry on into your life as an adult.
  • These problems are not solely caused by a substance or a medical condition. For example, using drugs or medication can cause changes in people, as can the physical effects of experiences like head trauma.

You can only be diagnosed with a personality disorder by a mental health professional experienced in diagnosing and treating mental health problems, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist – not by your GP. If you speak to your GP about your mental health and they think you might have a personality disorder, they can refer you to your local community mental health team (CMHT) who will be able to assess you. For further information on self-care and treatment, visit the Mind UK website by clicking here.

Phobias

(according to Mind UK) - A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder; it is an extreme form of fear or anxiety, triggered by a particular situation or object. You may even feel this extreme anxiety when you think or talk about the situation or object.

A situation that triggers a phobia. You may know it's safe to be out on a balcony in a high-rise block but feel terrified to go out on it. You might not even be able to enjoy the view from behind the windows inside the building.

An object that triggers a phobia. You may know that a spider isn’t poisonous or that it won’t bite you, but this still doesn’t reduce your anxiety.

A fear becomes a phobia if:

  • the fear is out of proportion to the danger
  • it lasts for more than six months
  • it has a significant impact on how you live your day-to-day life

If you feel you might be suffering from a phobia and want to learn more about symptoms, self-care and treatment options, visit the Mind UK website by clicking here. Alternatively, speak with your GP about your options.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

(according to Mind UK) – Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental health problem you may develop after experiencing traumatic events. When you go through something you find traumatic it's understandable to experience some symptoms of PTSD afterwards, such as feeling numb or having trouble sleeping. This is sometimes described as an 'acute stress reaction'. Many people find that these symptoms disappear within a few weeks, but if your symptoms last for longer than a month, you might be given a diagnosis of PTSD. Your GP might refer you to a specialist before this if your symptoms are particularly severe.

PTSD may be described differently in some situations:

Delayed-onset PTSD – if your symptoms emerge more than six months after experiencing trauma, this might be described as 'delayed PTSD' or 'delayed-onset PTSD'.

Complex PTSD – if you experienced trauma at an early age or it lasted for a long time, you might be given a diagnosis of 'complex PTSD'. Click here for more information.

Birth trauma – PTSD that develops after a traumatic experience of childbirth is also known as 'birth trauma'.

Secondary trauma - If you experience some PTSD symptoms while supporting someone close to you who's experienced trauma.

If you feel you may be suffering from a form of PTSD, speak with your GP about your treatment options. If you’d like more information on self-care and treatment options, visit the Mind UK website by clicking here.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)

(according to Mind UK) – Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a very severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which can cause many emotional and physical symptoms every month during the week or two before you start your period. It is sometimes referred to as 'severe PMS'. While many people who are able to have periods may experience some mild symptoms of PMS, if you have PMDD these symptoms are much worse and can have a serious impact on your life. Experiencing PMDD can make it difficult to work, socialise and have healthy relationships. In some cases, it can also lead to suicidal thoughts.

Some symptoms of PMDD include (but are not limited to):

  • mood swings
  • feeling upset or tearful
  • feeling angry or irritable
  • feelings of anxiety
  • feeling hopeless
  • feelings of tension or being on edge
  • difficulty concentrating
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • lack of energy
  • less interest in activities you normally enjoy
  • suicidal feelings
  • breast tenderness or swelling
  • pain in your muscles and joints
  • headaches
  • feeling bloated
  • changes in your appetite such as overeating or having specific food cravings
  • sleep problems
  • finding it hard to avoid or resolve conflicts with people around you
  • becoming very upset if you feel that others are rejecting you

You will typically only experience these symptoms for a week or two before your period starts. The symptoms follow your menstrual cycle, so you might find they start to get better when you get your period and will usually have disappeared by the time your period is finished.

The exact causes are still not fully understood but some possible factors are:

Being very sensitive to changes in hormone levels. Recent research suggests that PMDD is associated with increased sensitivity to the normal hormonal changes that occur during your monthly menstrual cycle.

Genetics. Some research suggests that this increased sensitivity to changes in hormone levels may be caused by genetic variations.

If you feel you may suffer from PMDD, see your GP to discuss possible treatment options. Alternatively, visit the Mind UK website to learn more about the condition and the possible self-help and treatment options; just click here.

Psychosis

(according to Mind UK) - Psychosis (also called a 'psychotic experience' or 'psychotic episode') is when you perceive or interpret reality in a very different way from people around you. The word psychosis is usually used to refer to an experience. It is a symptom of certain mental health problems rather than a diagnosis itself.

The most common types of psychotic experiences are hallucinations, delusions and disorganised thinking and speech. Psychosis affects people in different ways; you might experience it once, have short episodes throughout your life, or live with it most of the time.

When experiencing psychosis, you may find that it:

  • affects your behaviour or disrupts your life
  • makes you feel very tired or overwhelmed
  • makes you feel anxious, scared, threatened or confused
  • leaves you finding it very difficult to trust some organisations or people

If you feel you need help and support with psychosis, speak with your GP about your options. Alternatively, you can visit the Mind UK website to learn more about psychosis and the possible self-care and treatment options. Just click here.

Schizoaffective Disorder

(according to Mind UK) – Schizoaffective disorder is a condition where symptoms of both psychotic and mood disorders are present together during one episode (or within a two-week period of each other). The word schizoaffective has two parts:

‘schizo–’ refers to psychotic symptoms

‘–affective’ refers to mood symptoms

You might have times when you struggle to look after yourself, or when your doctors consider that you lack insight into your behaviour and how you are feeling; however, you may also have times between episodes where you feel well too. Episodes can vary in length and some people have repeated episodes (but this does not necessarily happen for everybody). Some people have suggested that schizoaffective disorder sits in the middle of a continuum, with schizophrenia at one end and bipolar disorder at the other. However, schizoaffective disorder is recognised as a separate diagnosis to both schizophrenia and bipolar, despite sharing many similar symptoms.

Symptoms usually start when you are a young adult and the three main types of schizoaffective disorder are:

Manic type: In this type you have both psychotic and manic symptoms occurring within one episode.

Depressive type: In this type you have both psychotic and depressive symptoms occurring at the same time during an episode.

Mixed type: In this type you have psychotic symptoms with both manic and depressive symptoms. However, the psychotic symptoms are independent and not necessarily related to the bipolar disorder symptoms.

If you feel you may be suffering from a schizoaffective disorder, speak with your GP about possible treatment options. You can also visit the Mind UK website for more information on such disorders, as well as self-care tips and treatment information; just click here.

Schizophrenia

(according to the NHS) – Schizophrenia is a severe long-term mental health condition. It causes a range of different psychological symptoms. Doctors often describe schizophrenia as a type of psychosis; this means the person may not always be able to distinguish their own thoughts and ideas from reality. Symptoms of schizophrenia include: 

  • hallucinations – hearing or seeing things that do not exist outside of the mind
  • delusions – unusual beliefs not based on reality
  • muddled thoughts based on hallucinations or delusions
  • losing interest in everyday activities
  • not caring about your personal hygiene
  • wanting to avoid people, including friends

Schizophrenia does not cause someone to be violent and people with schizophrenia do not have a split personality.

Diagnosing schizophrenia is complicated - there's no straightforward test for it. However, if you feel you may be suffering from schizophrenia, the best place to start is by speaking with your GP. You can also find out more by visiting the Mind UK webpage for schizophrenia, where you can find self-care tips and more information on treatment; just click here.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

(according to Mind UK) – Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that you experience during particular seasons or times of year, or due to certain types of weather. It's common to be affected by changing seasons and weather, or to have times of year when you feel more or less comfortable. But if your feelings are interfering with your day-to-day life, it could be a sign that you have depression – and if they keep coming back at the same time of year, doctors might call this seasonal affective disorder or 'seasonal depression'.

If you have SAD, you may experience symptoms of depression (see our depression drop down section). However, SAD varies from person to person and you may experience feelings and symptoms not listed with depression.

If you feel you may be suffering from SAD, visit your local GP for help and support. Likewise, you can visit the Mind UK website to learn more about SAD and the various treatment options; just click here.

Self-esteem

(according to Mind UK) – Self-esteem is how we value and perceive ourselves. It's based on our opinions and beliefs about ourselves, which can sometimes feel really difficult to change. Your self-esteem can affect whether you:

  • like and value yourself as a person
  • are able to make decisions and assert yourself
  • recognise your strengths and positives
  • feel able to try new or difficult things
  • show kindness towards yourself
  • move past mistakes without blaming yourself unfairly
  • take the time you need for yourself
  • believe you matter and are good enough
  • believe you deserve happiness

Having low self-esteem isn't a mental health problem in itself, but they are closely linked. If lots of things affect your self-esteem for a long time, this might lead to mental health problems; for example, depression or anxiety.

Some of the experiences of low self-esteem can be signs of a mental health problem, particularly if they last for a long time or affect your day-to-day life. For example:

  • feeling hopeless or worthless
  • blaming yourself unfairly
  • hating yourself
  • worrying about being unable to do things

Having a mental health problem can also cause you to have low self-esteem, and it might feel harder to cope or take steps to improve your self-esteem. If you think you’re struggling, visit the Mind UK page to learn more about how you can help improve your self-esteem; just click here.

Self-harm

(according to Mind UK) Warning: it can be upsetting and potentially triggering to read information about self-harm. If you are feeling vulnerable at the moment, you may not want to read the information below. – Self-harm is when you hurt yourself as a way of dealing with very difficult feelings, painful memories, or overwhelming situations and experiences. Some people have described self-harm as a way to:

  • express something that is hard to put into words
  • turn invisible thoughts or feelings into something visible
  • change emotional pain into physical pain
  • reduce overwhelming emotional feelings or thoughts
  • have a sense of being in control
  • escape traumatic memories
  • have something in life that they can rely on
  • punish themselves for their feelings and experiences
  • stop feeling numb, disconnected or dissociated
  • create a reason to physically care for themselves
  • express suicidal feelings and thoughts without taking their own life

After self-harming you may feel a short-term sense of release, but the cause of your distress is unlikely to have gone away. Self-harm can also bring up very difficult emotions and could make you feel worse. Even though there are always reasons underneath someone hurting themselves, it is important to know that self-harm does carry risks. Once you have started to depend on self-harm, it can take a long time to stop.

If you need help and support with self-harm, please visit your local GP for further advice. Alternatively, you can visit the Mind UK website to learn more about possible treatment options and support; just click here.

Sleep Problems

(according to Mind UK) – There's a close relationship between sleep and mental health. Living with a mental health problem can affect how well you sleep, and poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health. If you are having sleep issues, you might:

  • find it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep or wake up earlier than you'd like to (also known as insomnia)
  • have problems that disturb your sleep, such as panic attacks, flashbacks, nightmares or psychosis
  • find it hard to wake up or get out of bed
  • often feel tired or sleepy – this could be because you're not sleeping enough, not getting good quality sleep or because of health problems
  • sleep a lot – which could include sleeping at times when you want, or need, to be awake

The things that affect our sleep differ for everyone. They can include:

  • stresses or worries – for example, issues with money, housing or work
  • problems with where you sleep – for example, if you sleep somewhere uncomfortable or you're easily disturbed
  • health conditions relating to sleep, also known as sleep disorders
  • being a parent or carer
  • taking medication, including starting or coming off medication
  • recreational drugs and/or alcohol
  • working at night or being a shift worker
  • current or past trauma
  • mental and physical health problems, many of which can affect your sleep.

For more information on sleep and mental health, visit the Mind UK website, NHS website, or the Mental Health Foundation website. Alternatively, speak with your local GP for further help and support.

Suicidal Feelings

(according to Mind UK) Warning: it can be upsetting and potentially triggering to read information about suicide. If you are feeling vulnerable at the moment, you may not want to read the information below. – Suicide is the act of intentionally taking your own life. Suicidal feelings can mean having abstract thoughts about ending your life or feeling that people would be better off without you; it can also mean thinking about methods of suicide or making clear plans to take your own life.

If you are feeling suicidal, you might be scared or confused by these feelings and you may find the feelings overwhelming; but you are not alone. Many people think about suicide at some point in their lifetime.

How you might think or feel:

  • hopeless, like there is no point in living
  • tearful and overwhelmed by negative thoughts
  • unbearable pain that you can't imagine ending
  • useless, not wanted or not needed by others
  • desperate, as if you have no other choice
  • like everyone would be better off without you
  • cut off from your body or physically numb
  • fascinated by death

What you may experience:

  • poor sleep, including waking up earlier than you want to
  • a change in appetite, weight gain or loss
  • no desire to take care of yourself, for example neglecting your physical appearance
  • wanting to avoid others
  • making a will or giving away possessions
  • struggling to communicate
  • self-loathing and low self-esteem
  • urges to self-harm

If you think you may be feeling suicidal, it’s important to reach out for help and support; the earlier you let someone know how you're feeling, the quicker you'll be able to get support to overcome these feelings. Speaking with your GP is a great place to start; however, if that feels too overwhelming to begin with, try visiting the Mind UK website. They have more information, pages on treatment, support and self-help, and also pages you can share with loved ones to help explain to them the support you need. Click here to learn more.

Tardive Dyskinesia (TD)

(according to Mind UK) – Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is a condition where your face and/or body make sudden, jerky or slow twisting movements which you can't control. It can develop as a side effect of medication, most commonly antipsychotic drugs.

'Tardive' means delayed or appearing late (because it usually only develops after you've been taking medication for at least a few months and sometimes years).

'Dyskinesia' means abnormal or unusual movements.

Awareness of TD has improved over the years, but unfortunately doctors don't always remember to tell people about this risk when they prescribe antipsychotics.

Experiencing signs and symptoms of TD may make it hard to do day-to-day activities. It can also be very stressful or upsetting. For example, you may:

  • feel self-conscious about movements caused by TD
  • feel upset that you can't control what your body is doing
  • find it very hard or impossible to predict when you will experience symptoms

If you feel you may be suffering from TD, get in touch with your local GP for further help and support. Alternatively, you can visit the Mind UK website where they have further guides on possible treatments and self-help. Just click here.

Trauma

(according to Mind UK) – Going through very stressful, frightening or distressing events is sometimes called trauma. When we talk about emotional or psychological trauma, we might mean:

  • situations or events we find traumatic
  • how we're affected by our experiences

What's traumatic is personal. Other people can't know how you feel about your own experiences or if they were traumatic for you. You might have similar experiences to someone else but be affected differently.

Trauma can include events where you feel:

  • frightened
  • under threat
  • humiliated
  • rejected
  • abandoned
  • invalidated
  • unsafe
  • unsupported
  • trapped
  • ashamed
  • powerless

Ways trauma can happen include:

  • one-off or ongoing events
  • being directly harmed
  • witnessing harm to someone else
  • living in a traumatic atmosphere
  • being affected by trauma in a family or community

Trauma can sometimes directly cause mental health problems or make you more vulnerable to developing them. It is among the potential causes of all mental health problems; however, it can be difficult to tell which problems are being caused by trauma.

If you feel you may be suffering from side-effects or mental health problems as a result of trauma, it’s important to reach out. There are lots of different treatment and support options available; it may take time to figure out which one suits you, but you will get there. Speak with your GP to find out more about support or visit the Mind UK website by clicking here.

Further Support and Learning Resources

Below, you will find a series of mental health-related resources in the form of recommended support organisations and charities, podcasts, and self-help apps. There are many other resources available from your local GP/Doctor as well as online; these lists are merely a starting point. We advise everyone to always seek professional help when needed.

Charities and Organisations

  • CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably), a charity who offer help and support via webchat and over the phone. https://www.thecalmzone.net/
  • Better help, affordable, private online counselling service. https://www.betterhelp.com/
  • Mental Health Foundation, an organisation pioneering for change in mental health based on research and practical-based study. Focused on mental health prevention through knowledge, support, and campaigning for national change. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/
  • Mind UK, a charity who provide advice and support for those suffering from a mental health problem, and campaign to raise awareness and promote understanding of mental health. https://www.mind.org.uk/
  • PAPYRUS, young suicide prevention through online webchat and over the phone. https://www.papyrus-uk.org/help-advice/
  • Rethink, a charity who run campaigns and provide 200 services and 140 local support groups nationwide, aimed at supporting those with mental health issues. https://www.rethink.org/
  • Samaritans, confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair. https://www.samaritans.org/
  • Young Minds, the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health. https://youngminds.org.uk/about-us/

Apps

Podcasts