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Types of Mental Health conditions

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Here you can find out more about Anxiety, Depression and Self harm and Suicidal thoughts. For an A-Z of mental health problems see the Mind website

Anxiety is what we feel when we are worried, tense or afraid – particularly about things that are about to happen, or which we think could happen in the future. Anxiety is a natural human response when we perceive that we are under threat. It can be experienced through our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations. Most people feel anxious at times. It's particularly common to experience some anxiety while coping with stressful events or changes, especially if they could have a big impact on your life.

How can you tell when it is time to get help for your child’s anxiety?

Things to consider: 

  • When did the difficulties start?  Has your child been anxious for more than a few months?
  • Are the difficulties a “normal” response to something that’s happening in their lives, e.g. starting school, a big change in the family, or is your child much more anxious than you would expect? 
  • How strong is their worry? Is it becoming hard for them/you to manage?
  • Is the anxiety stopping them from doing what they want to/should be doing?

For example is the anxiety causing difficulties in lots of areas, such as:

  • their social life (causing problems with friendships) 
  • their performance at school (stopping them from doing as well as they could be) 
  • their mood (are they miserable/low as a result?) 
  • is the anxiety affecting you from doing what you want to/should be doing? e.g. going out/to work.

If you are answering yes to many of these questions, and you have tried self-help advice (e.g. websites, books) then the next step is to speak to school or GP who will be able to advice you on how to access further help.

Depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up for a few days.  Most people go through periods of feeling down, but when you're depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days. Some people think depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition. They're wrong – it is a real illness with real symptoms. Depression is not a sign of weakness or something you can "snap out of" by "pulling yourself together".  The good news is that with the right treatment and support, most people with depression can make a full recovery.

How to tell if you have depression

Depression affects people in different ways and can cause a wide variety of symptoms.  They range from lasting feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness, to losing interest in the things you used to enjoy and feeling very tearful.  Many people with depression also have symptoms of anxiety.  There can be physical symptoms too, such as feeling constantly tired, sleeping badly, having no appetite, and various aches and pains.  The symptoms of depression range from mild to severe. At its mildest, you may simply feel persistently low in spirit, while severe depression can make you feel suicidal, that life is no longer worth living.  Most people experience feelings of stress, anxiety or low mood during difficult times. A low mood may improve after a short period of time, rather than being a sign of depression.

How might you know if you need to seek help for your child’s low mood or depression?

How is your child’s:

  • Sleep
  • Appetite
  • Self-care e.g. showering, washing
  • General levels of motivation?  For example are they still doing things that they enjoy such as seeing friends, doing hobbies, exercise/sport, or has this started to reduce?
  • Do they appear very sad or tearful?
  • Has their school attendance reduced?  
  • Are they particularly irritable?
  • Are any of the above having an impact on their, and your, everyday life?  

If you are answering yes to many of these questions, it may be time to seek help by speaking to your child’s teacher or GP.
There are also many helpful website with information about how depression and low mood can affect young people.  Please see our useful information section.

Self-harm is when somebody intentionally damages or injures their body. It's usually a way of coping with or expressing overwhelming emotional distress. Sometimes when people self-harm, they feel on some level that they intend to die. More than half of people who die by suicide have a history of self-harm. But the intention is more often to punish them self, express their distress, or relieve unbearable tension. Sometimes it's a mixture of all three. Self-harm can also be a cry for help.

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