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Types Of Mental Health Problems

Unlike a cold, broken limb or cut, mental health affects us internally. It isn't visually obvious. That is why it is sometimes hard to diagnose, or for others to recognise and help. If you are worried about your own mental health, or someone you know, you can find out a little more about the wide range of conditions here.


Feeling worried or uneasy and fearing something to come. It is common to feel tense or stressed in nerve-wracking situations but suffering from anxiety can see us fearing things that may not even happen or exist. It is a little like thinking the worst all the time. Anxiety is often linked to panic attacks (see below).

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental health problem that mainly affects your mood. It causes you to regularly feel manic or have hypomanic episodes (feeling high) then dramatically change to a depressive episodes (feeling low). Potentially you may experience some psychotic symptoms during manic or depressed episodes. Everyone has variations in their mood, but in bipolar disorder these changes can be very distressing and have a big impact on your life. You may feel that your high and low moods are extreme, and that swings in your mood are overwhelming.

BDD - Body dysmorphic disorder

This is an anxiety disorder related to body image. It is having concerns about your appearance that cause you significant anxiety and have a disruptive effect on your life. Some people may develop routines and habits, such as excessively using mirrors or picking the skin, to deal with the worries you have about the way you look. BDD may cause additional problems such as feelings of shame, guilt and loneliness, isolating yourself because you are so self-conscious, experiencing depression or anxiety, and self-harming.


It comes in a variety of forms and has been widely recognised as the most common mental health condition. Feeling sad or miserable aboout life hits all of us from time to time - and passes as quickly as it came on. For some thought these feelings are regular, and affect your ability to complete day to day tasks. Depression is considered to affect everyone differently but common experiences include feeling helpless, lacking any energy and wanting to sleep, not being able to see reason in completing day to day tasks like the shopping, eating or working.

Dissociative disorder

A sense of feeling disconnected. It happens to us all - when we don't register in our conscious mind. For example completing a familiar task such as driving a well-known route without thinking about it, and arriving without memory of the journey. Some people even train themselves to use dissociation - such as meditating. Dissociation can also be a side effect of some drugs, medication and alcohol. Many mental health problems, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, have dissociative features.

Eating problems

We all try to follow a diet from time to time - maybe to get healthier or lose weight. It is about having a balanced diet and eating the right things. But sometimes people dramatically change what they are eating, or cut out food altogether. Often this is connected to other mental health conditions, such as depression, stress or anxiety. It could also be bought on by worry, for example about their body image - and may be bought on by upsetting or difficult life experiences such as bullying.

 OCD - obsessive compulsive disorder

OCD is described as an anxiety disorder. It is made up of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are continuous unwanted thoughts, images, urges or doubts which make you feel anxious. Those thoughts often lead to a compulsion - the repeated need to do something, like checking a lock or moving an object, to settle the obsessive thought.

Panic attacks

Most commonly linked to anxiety a panic attack occurs when the individual feels under immense stress, fear or worry. They can also happen in a state of excitement. They can last between 5 and twenty minutes and generally include a pounding heartbeat, feeling sick, sweating or shaking, feeling faint and experiencing pains in the chest or struggling to breathe. But, panic attacks do feel different for everyone.

Personality disorders

A personality disorder manipulates the way a person feels or relates to others. We all adapt the way we think, speak, and behave to suit the people around us. For example you will act differently in front of your manager compared to in front of your parents and friends. If you have a personality disorder you will find it difficult to do this - you may find you have a limited range of emotions, attitudes and behaviours to deal with everyday situations. The condition typically emerges in adolescence and continues into adulthood.


A phobia is an extreme form of a fear or anxiety. It is triggered by a certain situation. For example some people are scared of heights. Most people know it is still safe to go out on a balcony, but a phobia is so extreme it physically stops you being able to do something. A phobia lasts a long time, even a lifetime, and can impact the way you live day to day.

PTSD - post-traumatic stress disorder

If you witness, or are involved in, a traumatic event it is normal to feel upset, distressed or re-life the moment for a short time afterwards. If those feelings last for more than a month or so it is often diagnosed as PTS. Some people do not develop the trauma until a long time after the event - sometimes even years later. A common example of someone who may experience PTS is someone returning from war, who may have lost comrades or experienced gruesome scenes. Symptoms include nightmares, physical sensations of pain, sweating, nausea or tembling, and vivid flashbacks.


It affects the way a person thinks - often meaning they are unable to think clearly. There are several types of schizophrenia, the most common form is 'paranoid schizophrenia' where you experience prominent hallucinations and/or delusions. It affects the speech and emotions. Other forms include 'hebephrenic schizophrena' when the individual's behaviour is disorganised. Others may find it hard to understand them and their mannerisms may be out of place.