Mental Health Conditions

Untreated mental health conditions affect every part of our well-being. While the stigma surrounding mental health is lessening, there’s still a lot to learn about the conditions people suffer from on a daily basis. 

You may identify with one or more of the following conditions, and whether you have been medically diagnosed or not, the validity and complexity of each one remains. Effective treatment helps you develop healthy coping strategies and provides a vital support network. 


Anxiety is an extremely common mental health condition, affecting more than eight million people in the UK today. Everyone experiences anxiety to some degree – it is in our nature as human beings to recognise threats in any given situation. If, for example, you found yourself face to face with a lion, your body would recognise the life or death danger. The level of threat would cause your body to go into fight or flight mode, and you would experience the physical symptoms that go alongside anxiety, including racing thoughts, heart palpitations, sweating and an overriding sense of fear.

These are all very normal and rational reactions for someone facing a real threat to life; however, when an individual develops an anxiety disorder, they struggle to separate real threats from situations that pose no danger at all. Someone suffering from anxiety might experience all the same symptoms; racing thoughts, heart palpitations, sweating and panic attacks in what might seem like very ordinary situations.

There are several types of anxiety disorders, including:

  • Social anxiety – when an individual finds socialising and social environments particularly difficult.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – when a particularly distressing event causes an individual to remain ‘stuck’ in a moment of time, unable to process the event and move forward.
  • Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) – the most common type of anxiety disorder that causes excessive worry about everyday events for no apparent reason.

As well as being a mental disorder, anxiety is recognised as having very physical side effects, including sleep issues, weight loss or gain, sweating, trembling and headaches.


Depression is the most predominant mental health issue in the world and like anxiety, has both physical and psychological symptoms. People suffering with depression may have feelings of hopelessness, despair, guilt and worthlessness, and it can commonly coincide with anxiety. Along with the emotional aspects of depression, there are many physical aspects, including exhaustion, sleep problems, loss of appetite, weight loss and loss of libido.

As with any mental health condition, there are varying degrees of depression ranging from mild to severe. Many people are able to manage their symptoms, and it does not stop them from leading a normal life. However, for some, completing regular tasks can be extremely difficult, and they may be unable to find the motivation to function normally on a day-to-day basis. In the most extreme cases, depression can cause suicidal thoughts and, in very tragic cases, can be fatal.

As with anxiety, there are different types of depression, such as antenatal and postnatal depression (which occurs during or after pregnancy) and seasonal affective disorder, which tends to be present during the winter months.

In some cases, there may be no immediate or recognisable cause for depression, and extra support may be required to help the person concerned find positive ways to cope.


Although stress is not a psychiatric diagnosis, we recognise it plays a huge part in our mental well-being and in extreme cases, can contribute to the development of other mental health conditions.

Everyone experiences stress, and as humans, we are designed to adapt and respond to it as we navigate our way through life.

Stress can give us the motivation to find solutions to problems, complete a project or task at work, resolve tension in a relationship and help us to learn new ways of coping in future situations.

However, stress can become a problem for some people as severe and prolonged episodes can lead to mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and burnout. 

Many people who suffer from existing mental health problems find the day-to-day management of their condition leads them to experience stress as well. This vicious cycle can make stress difficult to manage.

Physically, stress can cause headaches, tiredness, weight loss or gain and stomach problems, and can pose long-term health issues if left untreated.

Bipolar Disorder

Previously known as manic depression, bipolar disorder largely affects an individual’s mood. This mental health condition is identifiable by episodes of extreme highs and lows that can swing erratically from one extreme to the other.

Someone suffering from bipolar disorder may feel very low and lethargic one moment and then switch to feeling very high, happy and overactive. Episodes of extreme highs and lows can last for many weeks, which is why it is important to note the difference between having mood swings – which we all do – and having bipolar disorder.

As with all mental health conditions, the effects and severity of bipolar disorder differ from person to person. Many people are stable for most of their lives and have just one or two episodes, but for some, it can be a more frequent pattern that is a hindrance to their day-to-day lives.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders may seem on the surface to be a physical illness, but the root cause of the problem goes much deeper. For many sufferers, mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, stress and bipolar disorder can co-occur, making life even more difficult to navigate.

From a mental health perspective, these disorders are characterised by distorted body image, an intense fear of gaining weight, and a preoccupation with food, weight, and body shape. People with anorexia nervosa often restrict their food intake, leading to severe weight loss, while individuals with bulimia nervosa engage in cycles of binge eating followed by compensatory behaviours like purging or excessive exercise.

These disorders carry deep-seated emotional and psychological factors, including low self-esteem, perfectionism, and a need for control, and can lead to significant physical health complications, including malnutrition, electrolyte imbalances, and damage to organs.

Treatment for eating disorders requires a multidisciplinary approach involving therapy, nutritional counselling, and sometimes medication. Therapists play a critical role in addressing underlying emotional issues and helping individuals develop healthier relationships with food and their bodies, and treatment focuses on building self-esteem, challenging distorted thought patterns, and developing coping strategies.

By recognising the complex interplay between mental and physical well-being, effective interventions can be implemented to help individuals overcome these disorders and improve their overall mental health and quality of life.

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