Anxiety is a normal reaction to something stressful or scary; it’s the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ reaction that helps us notice quickly when something happens, and makes sure we react quickly to keep safe.
Symptoms when anxiety has got a bit out of hand include feeling really panicky, sweating, racing heart, prickly or hot skin and needing the toilet!
Anxiety symptoms only becomes a problem when they last longer than average, start happening when nothing has occurred to start the reaction, or stop someone doing the stuff they usually do like going to school, or having a social life.
There are lots of different sorts of anxiety problem that you might have heard of like agoraphobia, or post-traumatic stress disorder – the label or name don’t really matter; what is important is what’s difficult and how can it get better.
The best help for anxiety is talking to someone – ask about cCBT and other ways to reduce anxiety. Look at the self-help pages and try some of the suggested ways to reduce your anxiety symptoms.
Depression is more than just having a bad day, or feeling low sometimes; feeling hopeless, lack of motivation, sadness, poor sleep, change in appetite, not wanting to go out and similar feelings lasting more than two weeks could be depression.
Depression is not a weakness; it is a reaction to difficulties and challenges in your life and can happen to anyone. The first good thing to do is see a GP so they can check out if any physical problems are making the depression worse, e.g. anaemia. Then the best way for a young person to tackle depression is with Talking Therapies and self-help.
Lots of people have heard of bi-polar disorder or have heard things in the media about it; people experiencing bi-polar disorder have really extreme mood swings – from feeling on top of the world, to really depressed. These mood differences happen over days or weeks rather than in one day. When feeling really high and good, people sometimes do really risky things, or have unbelievable ideas and thoughts (delusions). On the other side, when feeling really low people may have suicidal thoughts.
Sometimes it’s a friend or family member who spots the signs first rather than the person suffering, whether it’s you or someone you know experiencing this illness it’s important to get some good professional help; your GP may refer to the Mental Health Team for Young People. Treatment is not scary and people improve or recover and learn how to manage their symptoms.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Lots of people think OCD is about being really fussy and tidy, or needing to do things in a certain order. While these can be a part of what’s going on, with OCD the obsessive thoughts that something awful will happen trigger the need to carry out the compulsive behaviours (e.g. repetitive counting, repeating phrases, washing, cleaning etc.)
OCD commonly begins in adolescence – it’s a good idea to get help sooner rather than later as this can last a long time and cause problems with everyday living.
Schizophrenia is not a split personality, the term means split mind and is when thoughts and perceptions change and become disordered. Almost three quarters of people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia have their first experience of psychosis between the ages of 16 and 25. A psychotic episode may include hallucinations (seeing, hearing, tasting or feeling things which are not real), delusions (unusual or unbelievable thoughts and beliefs), difficulty thinking and feeling withdrawn and restless. You might notice these things in yourself, but it is also likely that a friend or family member will notice and support the person to get help.
It’s really important to know that illegal drug use can cause psychosis, and make it worse – but also stopping using drugs usually means the person recovers fully.
If you have any concerns about someone, then contact the Early Intervention in Psychosis team on 01279 698813, they will be really helpful and listen to you.
Patricia Deegan PhD is a psychologist and researcher and this video is her experience of a Schizophrenia disgnosis and the route to recovery.
Eating disorders are common in young people, and involve a disturbance of eating habits or weight control behaviour. Eating disorders can cause serious physical health problems in young people and stop normal growth and development. You might notice an unusual fixation about food and weight, someone getting really thin, exercising too much or hiding food and drinks. Young people who get help when an eating disorder has only just begun are likely to get well and stay well. A GP is the best person to see first and they make sure the whole family are involved in the person’s recovery.