Just as a person's physical health can change, so too can their mental health. Everyone has different levels of mental health and its important to be aware of your own level, as well as illnesses that may affect you or those around you.
Anxiety and Stress
Bullying, bereavement, abuse, neglect, family problems, exams and relationship difficulties can all leave a young person feeling anxious and stressed, but 5%-10% of young people will experience anxiety problems that stop them being able to live a normal life. There are many different signs of extreme stress such as feeling low, trouble sleeping, losing your appetite and panic attacks. Panic attacks happen when feelings of fear, tension or panic are so overwhelming they have physical symptoms such as shaking, sweating and feeling breathless.
Anxiety and stress can leave a sufferer with thoughts that life is not worth living. They may think about running away, feel unable to go out or go to school, may consider taking an overdose or harming themselves in some other way.
If you think that you or someone that you know are suffering due to anxiety or stress is is important that you talk to someone who will listen to and support you. If you do not feel you can talk to your family or friends use the list of help lines at the bottom of this page or contact your GP.
Depression is the most commonly diagnosed mental health problem in the UK with 1 in 4 people experiencing it at some point in their life. It can often be triggered by a stressful experience such as loss, and may leave the sufferer struggling to keep hold of positive thoughts, instead seeing only the negative aspects of the world and themselves.
To be clinically diagnosed with depression a person must display five or more of the following symptoms for at least a two-week period:
- low mood
- loss of interest or pleasure
- feeling sad or empty
- experiencing a marked decrease or increase in appetite
- difficulty in sleeping or oversleeping
- loss of energy or tiredness
- feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- difficulties in concentrating or thinking
- recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
Depression can leave a young person lacking in confidence, struggling to get up in the morning or dreading the day ahead. These feelings may leave them turning to food for comfort or going off their food, they may lose friends or have difficulties getting on with friends and family members. When depression is acute, sufferers may start to have thoughts of killing themselves or deliberately self-harming. When these thoughts are put into action, it can often lead to suicide.
Unfortunately sufferers may also feel as though no one will understand them if they were to talk about their feelings, and so keep them bottled up worsening the problem. It is important to remember depression is not a feeling that can be shaken off but an illness, a chemical reaction in the brain. It is not the sufferers fault and will be extremely difficult for them to cope with alone.
If you think you or someone you know may be depressed please talk to someone you think will listen to and support you. If you do not feel comfortable talking to your family or friends please use the help lines listed below or contact your doctor.
Self-harm can take many different forms and be carried out with different degrees of injury caused to the harmer.
Self-harmers, or those who consider self-harm often have feelings that they are struggling to manage, perhaps from an experience that has made them feel ashamed, guilty or bad. They may believe that no one likes them or would care if they were dead. They may feel sad and alone and think there is no one they can turn to. Not knowing how to resolve the tension these feelings cause can result in deliberate self-harm. Self-harm can often be a symptom of depression (see above.)
If you or someone you know self-harms or is considering self-harming it is important to get support. Talk to a friend or family member who will listen to and support you, or if you would feel more comfortable talk to your doctor or use one of the help lines listed below.