Mental Health Issues

Here is some information about the most common mental health issues.

Mental Health Issues

Addictions / substance dependency

Addiction is a strong and uncontrollable need to take drugs, drink alcohol or carry on a particular activity such as gambling. It becomes the most important thing in your life and leads to problems in many areas of your life (home, work, school).

Many people regularly use addictive substances without having major problems. However for some it might cause damaging physical and psychological effect and turns into addiction.

Substance dependence can cause powerful cravings and you might want to give up but find it extremely difficult to stop without help.

Signs and symptoms vary according to individual, the substance, family history and personal circumstances.

Most common are:

  • The person takes the substance and cannot stop.
  • Withdrawal symptoms (cravings, moodiness, bad temper, poor focus, depression, anger, frustration, bitterness and resentment).
  • Addiction continues despite health problems.
  • Social and/ or recreational scarifies.
  • Maintaining a good supply
  • Taking risks
  • Dealing with problems
  • Obsession
  • Secrecy and solitude.
  • Denial
  • Dropping hobbies and activities.
  • Excess consumption.
  • Financial difficulties.
  • Relationship problems.
  • Having problems with the law.
  • Taking the initial large dose.

At-risk groups

  • Children who grow up n a home where a relative is misusing alcohol or drugs
  • Experiencing stress and abuse as a child
  • Having mental health problems
  • Unemployment and financial worries
  • Relationship problems

It is often a way of dealing with or trying to escape from other problems you are experiencing.
Therapy can help you address the causes of addiction and help you stop your addictive behaviour.

NHS info

More on symptoms link

FRANK – Friendly, confidential drugs advice


It is a feeling of unease, worry or fear usually accompanied by physical symptoms.

Everyone has feelings of anxiety and in some situations they are perfectly normal e.g. taking an exam, having a medical test or job interview.

However, some people find it difficult to control their worries, feelings of anxiety are more constant and affect their daily life.

Anxiety is the main component of several conditions, including panic disorders, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder and social phobias.

Therapy can help you with the general anxiousness by providing you with ways of dealing with certain situations as you encounter them and exploring their underlying causes.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

You feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather then one specific event.

Psychological symptoms:

  • restlessness
  • a sense of dread
  • feeling constantly “on edge”
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability

Physical symptoms :

  • tiredness
  • dizziness
  • a noticeably strong, fast or irregular heartbeat (palpitations)
  • muscle aches and tension
  • an inability to be still and calm
  • cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
  • trembling or shaking
  • dry mouth
  • excessive sweating
  • shortness of breath
  • stomach ache
  • feeling sick
  • headache
  • pins and needles
  • difficulties with sleeping

Therapy can help you with the general anxiousness by providing you with ways of dealing with certain situations as you encounter them and exploring their underlying causes.

NHS info

Anger Management

Anger is a normal and healthy emotion but when it gets out of control it could be destructive.

Anger can show itself as aggression if you become violent and threatening to others. It can lead to problems at work, your relationships, and in the overall quality of life. You might feel at mercy of an unpredictable powerful emotion.

When suppressed or turned inwards, it can lead to other problems such as eating disorders, self-harm or substance dependence.

Therapy can often help with finding the root of your anger and help you to express anger in more healthy and constructive ways.

Controlling anger before it controls you. Booklet on anger from American Psychological Association.

NHS info


The death of a loved one can be devastating. Even the loss of a pet can have a major psychological effect. Bereavement affects people in different ways.

You might feel:

  • shock and numbness (usually the fist reaction)
  • overwhelming sadness, with lots of crying
  • tiredness or exhaustion
  • anger
  • guilt

Working through these feelings with a therapist can help you come to terms with your loss.

Experts generally accept that there are four stages of bereavement:

  • accepting that your loss is real
  • experiencing the pain of grief
  • adjusting to life without the person who has died
  • putting less emotional energy into grieving and putting it into something new (in other words, moving on)

Grief, Loss and Bereavement article form

NHS info


Most people experience sadness, stress or anxiety during difficult times. Depression is more than feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days. This is not something that can be changed overnight. It affects people in different ways and can cause a wide variety of symptoms. It often prevents a person from functioning to their full ability.

Many people with depression have symptoms of anxiety.

The symptoms of depression can be complex and vary between people. In general if you are depressed, you feel:

  • sad
  • hopeless
  • lose interest in things that you used to enjoy.

The symptoms persist for weeks or moths and interfere with your work, social and family life.

Psychological symptoms:

  • low mood or sadness
  • hopelessness
  • low self-esteem
  • feeling tearful
  • feeling guilt-ridden
  • irritability and intolerance of others
  • no motivation or interest in things
  • finding it difficult to make decisions
  • not getting any enjoyment out of life
  • anxiety and worry
  • suicidal thoughts or thoughts of harming yourself

Physical symptoms:

  • moving or speaking more slowly than usual
  • change in appetite or weight
  • unexplained aches and pains
  • lack of energy or lack of interest in sex
  • changes to your menstrual cycle
  • disturbed sleep

Social symptoms:

  • not doing well at work
  • taking part in fewer social activities and avoiding contact with friends
  • neglecting your hobbies and interests
  • having difficulties in your home and family life

NHS info

Eating disorders

Eating disorders are very common and if not treated appropriately, could lead to illness and even death. A person with an eating disorders worry a lot and focus on their weight and shape the food they are eating or trying not to eat. This often leads to making unhealthy choices about food with damaging results on health.

The most common eating disorders are:

  • anorexia nervosa – trying to keep weight as low as possible by starving or exercising excessively
  • bulimia – trying to control weight by binge eating and then deliberately being sick or using laxatives
  • binge eating – feeling compelled to overeat

Symptoms of eating disorders

People might be affected by eating disorder in different ways.

You probably have an eating disorder if there are following happening:

  • You are excessively concern about calories or fear of weight gain
  • Thinking about food dominates your life
  • Unhealthy eating habits
  • You strictly avoid certain foods to control your weight, and feel terrible if you eat any of those.
  • Exercise extensively to control your weight and feel fat if you missed your routine.
  • You feel a lot of shame and guild around eating
  • You vomit or using laxatives to avoid weight gain
  • You don’t think that you are too thin but other people are concern
  • You weight is fluctuating a lot
  • You pretend that you have eaten
  • You feel depressed and irritable

Eating disorders are often blamed on the social pressure to be thin. However, the causes are more complex and arise from a combination of personal, family, physical or genetic factors as well as life experiences that might cause to be vulnerable and sensitive about weight and shape.

Eating disorders in general are coping behaviours and a way of regulating emotions and coping with life.

Therapy can be helpful in changing thoughts and expectations and be a source of support and encouragement.

NHS Link

beat – Beating Eating Disorders charity supporting anyone affected by eating disorders or difficulties with food, weight and shape.

NICE National Institute for Health and Care Excellence

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is a mental health condition where a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive activity.

An obsession is an unwanted thought, image or urge that is constantly present causing anxiety or unease.

A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that someone feels that need to carry our to alleviate the unpleasant feelings cause by the obsessive thought.

OCD affects people differently but there are usually four main steps present:

  • Obsession – unwanted, intrusive and distressing thought enters you mind.
  • Anxiety – the obsession provokes anxiety and distress
  • Compulsion– you feel the need to carry our repetitive behaviours or mental act to alleviate the unpleasant feelings
  • Temporary relief– the compulsive behaviour brings temporary relief, but hen the anxiety returns and the cycle begins again.

Therapy can help by looking at patterns of behaviour with a therapist.

NHS Link

OCD UK Information and support

OCD Action Find a support group

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is a psychological and physical condition that is caused by a very frightening or distressing event.

The type of events that can cause PTSD:

  • serious road accidents
  • violent personal assaults (sexual assault, mugging or robbery)
  • prolonged sexual abuse, violence or severe neglect
  • witnessing violent deaths
  • military combat
  • being held hostage
  • terrorist attacks
  • natural disasters (floods, earthquakes or tsunamis)
  • any event experienced as traumatic (bereavement)


Symptoms can develop immediately after someone experienced a disturbing event or it can occur weeks, months or even years after.
They have a significant impact on the daily life but vary widely between individuals.

  • Re-experiencing (flashbacks, nightmares, distressing images
  • Avoidance
  • Emotional numbing
  • Feeling ‘on the edge’
  • Depression, anxiety and phobias
  • Substance misuse
  • Physical problems – headache, chest and stomach pains, dizziness.

Therapy can provide the space to process the traumatic event and your individual reaction.

NHS Link

Help guide

Moodjuice Self-help Guide

Postnatal depression

It is a type of depression some women experience after having a baby. Around one in ten women is affected by it. I can develop within few first weeks after giving birth, but it often not evident until around six months.

Main symptoms:

  • a persistent feeling of sadness and low mood
  • loss of interest in the world
  • feeling tearful for no apparent reason
  • lack of energy and feeling tired all the time
  • disturbed sleep
  • difficulties with concentration and making decisions
  • low self-confidence
  • poor appetite or an increase in appetite
  • feeling very agitated or very apathetic
  • increased anxiety
  • feelings of guilt and self-blame
  • difficulty looking after the baby
  • thinking about suicide and self harming

NHS Link


Postpartum psychosis

It is more rare and more serious condition that can develop after giving birth.

Regarded as a medical emergency as it could be life threatening for the mother or the baby.

Symptoms are more serious then in postnatal depression.

Most women with postpartum psychosis will experience:

  • hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that aren’t there)
  • and delusions (thoughts or beliefs that are unlikely to be true)

NHS Link

The Guardian An article written by a mother who shares her experience. Link