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Mental Health Conditions

Mental Health Conditions

Mental health is now taken very seriously thanks to growing public awareness. Most mental health conditions can be treated through medication or cognitive behavioural therapy and there are plenty of support groups and charities there to help.

Some are mental health conditions are hereditary and some are triggered by stressful events. It is estimated that around a quarter of people in the UK experience some form of mental health problem each year, with 70-75% of those never receiving treatment. Below are just some of the mental health conditions that are recognised today.

Anxiety Disorder

People with anxiety disorder feel extreme fear or stress about everyday events. They often worry excessively, thinking obsessively about everything that could go wrong in a situation. This can stop them from doing things they enjoyed before they developed anxiety, such as refusing to ride a rollercoaster just in case it breaks down or giving up swimming because they strongly fear drowning.

While these bad events are possible, someone with anxiety can worry to the extent where they feel that the worst-case scenario is the most likely one.

Social Anxiety

People suffering with social anxiety can feel extreme fear and worry about social situations. They struggle with thoughts that they will do or say the wrong thing, that everybody is judging them negatively and that they will embarrass themselves.

This can lead to extremely low self-esteem.

Panic Attacks

Back when humans were hunter-gatherers, their bodies used ‘fight or flight’ response to help them when they were in danger. We still have this physical response when presented with extreme fear, which is why people with anxiety can suffer regularly from what we now call panic attacks.

When someone is having a panic attack, their heart can thump rapidly, they may start shaking and sweating, and they often cannot think straight. Panic attacks don’t usually last long but it can take a while to calm down.

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a form of anxiety disorder. It’s when somebody has compulsions to undertake certain actions and rituals to alleviate their worries. A common fear in people with OCD is germs, which leads to obsessive cleaning or hand washing. People with OCD very often have to conduct certain rituals before they can relax.

They might check switches and locks a certain amount of times before they go to bed, or have a fixation on numbers being lucky or unlucky. These rituals can be very time consuming, but the person cannot ignore their compulsive thoughts that something bad will happen if they don’t complete the routine, even if they don’t really believe it.


Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder developed after a traumatic event. Symptoms could start immediately or even years later, and include panicking, self-destructive behaviour, avoidance, physical or emotional numbness, flashbacks and nightmares, to name a few. It’s thought that up to a fifth of soldiers develop PTSD.


A phobia is an extreme and overwhelming fear, and a type of anxiety disorder. Instead of being anxious in general, a person with phobias will be terrified of something very specific and often experience panic attacks or even be physically sick when faced with it. They cannot control this fear without treatment, and may feel it’s irrational in their mind but cannot stop their body’s response. Phobias can range from common types, such as arachnophobia (fear of spiders) and claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces) to rare ones like pogonophobia (fear of beards).

Common types of mental health conditions

  • Anxiety disorder, including social anxiety, panic attacks, OCD, PTSD and phobias

  • Depression, including bipolar disorder, SAD and postnatal depression

  • Eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia, compulsive and binge eating disorder and orthorexia

  • Personality disorders including narcissistic personality disorder and dependent personality disorder

  • Schizophrenia, including paranoid schizophrenia


Depression is prolonged and extreme sadness that sufferers cannot control. It is a crippling mental illness that can affect people’s ability to eat, sleep, work and interact with others. They often feel like they will never be happy again or that their life is not worth living.

Bipolar Disorder

People with bipolar disorder have extreme moods that last for weeks, months or even years. These moods tend to swing between depression and mania, when they are euphoric and full of energy.

When these moods are extreme they can also cause hallucinations or delusions, as well as erratic behaviour. People with bipolar disorder do not necessarily always have extreme feelings, they can spend long periods of time with milder or neutral moods.


Seasonal Affective Disorder is when people suffer depression at a certain time of year. The most common form is depression in the winter and is thought to be from a lack of sunlight. A rarer form is Reverse SAD, when people become depressed in the summer, possibly due to overexposure to sunlight.

Reverse SAD can be more difficult to manage because everybody is expected to be happy when the sun comes out, so other people’s joy at the very thing that is making the person with Reverse SAD miserable, and their inability to understand that the sufferer is not choosing to feel down, can be extremely isolating.

People with Reverse SAD can feel exhilarated in autumn and winter but have to deal with people moaning about the weather and not wanting to go outside with them.

Postnatal Depression

Postnatal depression can happen to both women and men after the arrival of a new baby. Around 10 per cent of women experience it, and may struggle to bond with their baby or even feel that they are not a good mother for feeling this way.

Having postnatal depression does not mean that somebody doesn’t love their baby or that they are incapable of caring for them.

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Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are characterised by irregular, obsessive or uncontrollable thoughts or behaviours around food. These can be centred around body image but sometimes they are emotional or habitual. People with eating disorders find it difficult to eat normally without experiencing stress, panic or compulsive thoughts. This can result in people isolating themselves, such as finding it easier not to attend social events than be obliged to eat foods or quantities that they are not comfortable with.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

People with narcissistic personality disorder have an exaggerated sense of self-importance and self-worth. They may believe they are more intelligent, beautiful or important than most people and be convinced that others are jealous of them.

They usually lack empathy and constantly bully or belittle others, but will be unable to comprehend that they are wrong or anything but the victim in a dispute. They do not deal well with failure and look for somebody else to blame if something goes wrong for them.

Dependent personality disorder

Those with dependent personality disorder are emotionally dependent on other people and dislike being alone. They sometimes cling to one person at a time throughout their lives, such as a best friend at school who they then abandon when they get a romantic partner and cling to them instead.

They often look to that person to form their opinions and beliefs and make decisions for them while having few ideas of their own. They want to spend all their time with that person and get jealous of the person seeing anybody else.

People with this disorder are often oversensitive to criticism from others but will accept abuse from the person they are dependent on.


Paranoid Schizophrenia

This is the most common type of schizophrenia. As well as experiencing hallucinations and delusions, someone with paranoid schizophrenia will form strong beliefs that may or may not be caused by the hallucinations.

For example, they may be absolutely convinced that a family member has a vendetta against them because they have hallucinated overhearing conversations to suggest as such.