A-Z of mental health
No-one likes to be labelled, but sometimes we have to use names of conditions to describe different behaviour. It also helps us to help you and find the best solutions for you.
Anorexia Nervosa is a type of eating disorder. People with Anorexia Nervosa don’t eat enough, because they feel that their problems are associated with what they look like and by controlling their weight, they can control other aspects of their lives.
If you have Anorexia or know someone who might have, it is important to try and remember that losing weight is not the answer. Beat is the leading charity for eating disorders and their website can give you more information.
Anxiety can also be classed as worries, fears and phobias. Everyone gets worried and frightened by things from time to time, but sometimes these concerns start to take over everyday life.
Anxiety is the feeling of fear we all experience when faced with threatening or difficult situations. It helps us to avoid dangerous situations, makes us alert and motivates us to deal with problems. Panic is defined as a sudden unexpected surge of anxiety which makes you want to leave the worrying situation. Phobias are fears of a situation or thing that isn’t dangerous and which most people don’t find troublesome.
Anxiety UK has lots of useful information on its website about Agoraphobia and other anxiety disorders.
ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
ADHD is a condition that affects how well someone can sit still, focus, and pay attention. People with ADHD have differences in the parts of their brains that control attention and activity. This means that they may have trouble focusing on certain tasks and subjects, or they may act impulsively, and get into trouble.
There is lots of useful information available on the Mind website
See also ADDmire, a resource centre for professionals working in the West Surrey area who are involved in the care of children with Attention-deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (also known as ’ADD’ or ’ADHD’).
Asperger’s syndrome is a form of autism, which is a lifelong disability that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people. Autism is often described as a 'spectrum disorder' because the condition affects people in many different ways and to varying degrees.
The National Autistic Society website has lots of useful information on Asperger’s Syndrome and what it’s like to have it.
People with autism have said that the world, to them, is a mass of people, places and events which they struggle to make sense of, and which can cause them considerable anxiety. In particular, understanding and relating to other people, and taking part in everyday family and social life may be harder for them. Other people appear to know, intuitively, how to communicate and interact with each other, and some people with autism may wonder why they are 'different'.
The National Autistic Society website has lots of useful information.
Alcoholism describes the condition where people get addicted to alcohol, and use it to escape other problems in their lives. Alcoholism is when social drinking changes into more regular, addictive patterns.
Drink Aware has loads of information on alcohol and how to help someone who you think may be drinking too much.
Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depression. People with the disorder can fluctuate between feeling very depressed, to being very happy and excited, which is also known as mania. In between this they can seem relatively calm.
Mind has an entire section of its website dedicated to Bipolar disorder.
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)
Body dysmorphic disorder affects people and the way they view themselves. It can lead people to become obsessed and preoccupied with their appearance, focusing on minor imperfections they may feel they have.
Bulimia Nervosa is a type of eating disorder. People with Bulimia Nervosa find it really hard to stick to a healthy, balanced eating pattern. They may constantly think of calories, dieting and ways of getting rid of excess food. Many people will binge (over eat) and then feel guilty so will make themselves sick, starve themselves, take laxatives or over-exercise.
Most people feel sad or unhappy from time to time, however people suffering from depression feel very down. Everything is too much effort and they cannot shake off the constant feeling of unhappiness. They may start to think that they are useless and no good. Things that they may once have found fun, no longer make them happy and they can’t seem to laugh anymore. People with depression may spend long periods of time sleeping, or may not be able to sleep at all. They may also completely lose their appetite, or eat much more than they normally would.
There are lots of ways to help people with depression:
research has shown that exercise can help depression by releasing powerful chemicals into the brain. talking to someone they trust can help prescribed medication such as anti-depressants taking herbal remedies like st john’s wort (be aware that this can cause complications if taken with other medicines such as the pill).
Mind has lots of good information about depression on its website.
If you would like to talk to someone, the Samaritans provides support 24 hours a day on 08457 90 90 90.
An eating disorder is something which can take over someone’s eating habits, making them starve, over-eat, or sick. Eating disorders are very dangerous and can affect anyone.
Eating disorders are a way of coping with feelings that make people feel unhappy or depressed. Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and compulsive over eating are all types of eating disorder.
Beat is a national charity which helps young people with eating disorders. Its website has lots of useful information and advice on how to deal with eating disorders.
Insomnia is a common condition where you either can’t sleep, or have trouble staying asleep for long enough. This can lead to you missing out on sleep and feeling tired during the day. Lifestyle changes such as relaxing before bedtime, eating your evening meal earlier and limiting your caffeine intake can help.
Sometimes things go wrong with people’s physical health. They may catch a bug or become ill or they might get hurt in an accident. In the same way, people have problems with their mental health. There are different types of mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety and eating-disorders.
People who have problems with their mental health may feel: sad, worried, confused, angry, in despair, hopeless, tearful, scared, irritable, panicky, numb or guilty.
There are some things you may notice about someone who has a mental health problem:
some people do or say strange things they may hear or see things that nobody else can they may seem sad or cross all the time they may seem tired of have amazing amounts of energy they may hold strange beliefs they may believe someone or something is trying to harm them, so will seem scared all the time.
There is lots of useful information and factsheets on the Mind website which can help you understand mental illness and what can cause it.
OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a serious anxiety-related condition. OCD can take many forms, but, in general, sufferers experience repetitive, intrusive and unwelcome thoughts, images, impulses and doubts which they find hard to ignore. These thoughts form the obsessional part of ‘Obsessive-Compulsive’ and they usually (but not always) cause the person to perform repetitive compulsions to try to relieve themselves of the obsessions and neutralise the fear.
OCD-UK is a national charity which helps people suffering with the condition.
A phobia is described as an irrational or excessive fear of an object or a situation. Some common phobias are: dentophobia (fear of dentists), claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces) and arachnophobia (fear of spiders).
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder describes symptoms people may experience after a traumatic event takes place. It can also be described as a delayed reaction to the trauma of going through a bad experience. Symptoms can include:
vivid flashbacks (feeling as if the trauma is happening all over again) intrusive thoughts and images nightmares intense distress at real or symbolic reminders of the trauma repressing memories (being unable to remember aspects of the event) feeling detached, cut off and emotionally numb being unable to express affection feeling there’s no point in planning for the future.
Mind has lots of information and advice on its website.
Psychosis symptoms can vary greatly from person to person and a number of symptoms can be experienced, such as: hallucinations, confused thoughts and trouble knowing what is real and what is not.
Surrey has a specific team who can help if you think you or someone you know is suffering from psychosis, called EIIP (Early Intervention in Psychosis). Visit their website.
Schizophrenia is a disorder which affects thinking, feeling and behaviour. It usually starts between the ages of 15 to 35 and affects about one in every 100 people during their lifetime. Symptoms are divided into ‘positive’ and ‘negative’:
Positive symptoms, these describe a change in behaviour:
difficulty thinking feeling controlled hallucinations delusions
Negative symptoms, these describe the loss of thoughts, actions and feelings:
loss of interest, energy and emotions some people hear voices without negative symptoms.
Self-harm is a way of expressing very deep distress. Often, people don't know why they self-harm. It's a means of communicating what can't be put into words or even into thoughts and has been described as an inner scream. Afterwards, people feel better able to cope with life again, for a while.
Self-harm is a broad term. People may injure or poison themselves by scratching, cutting or burning their skin, by hitting themselves against objects, taking a drug overdose, or swallowing or putting other things inside themselves. It may also take less obvious forms, including unnecessary risks, staying in an abusive relationship, developing an eating problem (such as anorexia or bulimia), being addicted to alcohol or drugs, or someone simply not looking after their own emotional or physical needs.
There is lots of information and help available for people who are self-harming. Young Minds has a good booklet about self-harm on their website.
Drug addiction can relate to the excessive use of illegal drugs such as Cannabis, Cocaine and Heroin, or legal drugs that you would find on prescription.
Talk to Frank is a national service for young people who are worried about drug addiction, it has an A – Z of drugs and a confidential helpline.