A traumatic or abusive event can be an extremely difficult and painful experience. Examples of traumatic events include physical or sexual abuse, a violent attack or witnessing a catastrophic event such as war or natural disasters. These events can make you feel helpless and unsafe and can lead to anxiety, depression, panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorder. You may also find your appetite and sleep patterns change dramatically. It is important to bear in mind that what one person finds traumatic another person may not, and so it is perfectly natural for you to feel emotions that another person may not.
When a substance or activity makes you feel happy your brain releases feel-good chemicals that make you want to do it again. But if seeking out the ‘high’ has developed into a compulsive and uncontrollable desire in spite of the increasing negative and harmful consequences it is having on your life, then you are dealing with an addiction.
No matter what kind of addiction you have, all can take a serious toll on your physical and psychological health. Symptoms can include depression, panic attacks, sleep disturbance, obsessive-compulsive traits, deteriorating relationships, poor work performance and escalating financial problems caused by your increasing preoccupation with the activity.
Anxiety and Stress are normal responses to threatening situations. But anxious feelings can also produce unpleasant side-effects of sweating, tension, panic and avoidant behaviour. If left untreated, anxiety can cause wider difficulties in relationships, at work, and in general mood levels.
Bereavement is the feeling of grief when we lose someone, or something, close to us. Death and loss are an inevitable part of life. Shock, numbness, anger and sadness form part of the natural grieving process. However, if left unprocessed, such losses can leave us with emotional scars and long-term difficulties including mental health issues.
Bipolar, previously referred to as Manic Depression, is a mood disorder. The individual's mood swings between episodes of extreme depression and extreme mania, with each episode lasting for several weeks.
The depressive phase includes feelings of sadness, poor concentration, a lack of energy and feelings of hopelessness. The mania phase includes feelings of euphoria, boundless energy and irritability. There may also be symptoms of psychosis - hallucinations and delusions.
Most people will have experienced stress from time to time. This may be due to redundancy, marital problems or even something positive such as going on holiday. Yet, Co-dependency
Co-dependency describes when an individual has a strong desire to control the people around them and believes that without them individuals such as their spouse, children or colleagues are incapable of undertaking the tasks they are responsible for. They have good intentions and desperately try to take care of people who are experiencing difficulty; however, these good intentions can quickly become compulsive and defeating. Due to an inability to say ‘no’ to requests made of them, they may find themselves the victims in abusive relationships and believe that if they are loving enough they can change the other person’s behaviour.
From time to time we can all feel sad, miserable and fed up, but if these feelings persist, they may be signs of depression. Depression affects one in six of us, with common symptoms including lack of motivation, difficulties in concentration, pessimism, sleep disturbances, irritability, crying, suicidal thoughts, social withdrawal, changes in appetite, loss of sex drive and lack of enthusiasm and pleasure. Feelings of sadness can continue for weeks and months, and interfere significantly in relationships, employment and health.
Drugs, whether legal or illegal, are chemical substances that act on the brain and nervous system resulting in changes to a person’s mood, emotion or state of consciousness. However, some of these substances carry the potential to induce addiction with damaging psychological and physical effects. Like with alcoholism, indications of drug dependency can be seen in symptoms such as feeling like you are not able to function without it, preoccupation with getting hold of it and requiring more of the substance to feel an effect. Likewise, withdrawal symptoms are a common feature of drug addiction, with symptoms such as fever, sweating, nausea, chills and body aches all common place. It is important to be aware that legal drugs such as benzodiazepines (tranquillisers) carry the potential to be equally as addictive as illegal drugs such as heroin.
Persistent negative thinking can create a vicious cycle and can lead you to avoid taking on all kinds of activities and tasks because you fear failure. This can sometimes lead to a catch 22 situation as cutting yourself off from life’s challenges can leave you feeling even more hopeless and unhappy.
If you are experiencing exhaustion, lack of motivation, feelings of failure, or thinking negatively about your abilities and opportunities, and wishing life was better then you are probably suffering from low self-esteem and a lack of confidence.
A panic attack is an unexpected episode of intense fear and associated physical symptoms. It is natural to experience feelings of unease, anxiety and even panic. However for someone with panic disorder these feelings are incredibly intense, occur on a regular basis and can arise at any given time, usually for no obvious reason. In the UK it is estimated that one out of every hundred people suffers from panic disorder, which frequently develops in the 20s age group and is twice more common in women than men.
Other conditions may cause severe anxiety, and may be related to panic disorder. The most common of these are: phobias, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and general anxiety disorder (GAD).
Like generalised anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and panic attacks, a phobia is an anxiety disorder. It is characterised by an extreme or irrational fear of an animal, object, place or situation. Phobias are more than simple fears; however, they can completely dominate the life of an individual who reorganises their whole life around avoiding the particular thing they fear and the very thought of coming into contact with it, will lead to intense feelings of anxiety and panic. In more complex phobias such as agoraphobia (fear of open spaces and public places) and social phobias the individual may find it very difficult to lead a normal life, as these situations are not easily avoided. Individuals suffering from a phobia are similarly likely to suffer with depression and panic attacks are common.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological and physical condition that is caused by very frightening or distressing events such as wars, natural disasters and violent personal assaults such as rape or being mugged. It is characterised by the individual reliving the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks causing disabling anxiety. The individual may also find sleeping difficult and may be withdrawn, hypervigilant and prone to emotional outbursts. Alcohol and drug use are also prevalent, as the individual tries to block out the memory. This condition can have substantial implications on the life of the individual with relationship breakdown and problems at work being common place.
Relationships are complex and there are many situations and problems that can affect them. They can be triggered by unexpected events such as redundancy, illness or death and even expected changes such as moving house, a new baby or having parents move into the same home. Additionally, some relationships are highly stressful, for example, when a partner is abusive or an alcoholic, has affairs or may be suffering from a long-term illness. All of these issues can put substantial pressure on the relationship and can lead to each partner feeling stressed, anxious and depressed.
Most of us will have experienced the strains and difficulties of stress. Stress is the feeling of being under pressure and in some cases it can actually be quite beneficial leading to increased motivation and performance. However, too much stress or stress over a prolonged period of time can cause substantial psychological and physical problems. Symptoms may include a lack of appetite, difficulty sleeping, anger, depression and exhaustion. Suffering from stress for a long time can lead to more severe consequences such as high blood pressure (hypertension) which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.