All Posts in Category: Mental Health

Common Mental Health Conditions

Common Mental Health Conditions

In a previous blog we discussed depression, anxiety and stress, which are the most commonly recognised mental health conditions. However, there are other mental health conditions that we treat regularly at Dementech Neurosciences.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder causes extreme mood swings ranging from highs (mania or hypomania) to lows (depression).

Find out more about bipolar disorder in this short video.

 

Symptoms of bipolar include:

  • Depression – feeling hopeless or sad, losing interest in most activities.
  • Mania/Hypomania (a less extreme type of mania) – irritability, euphoria, feeling energised.

The condition can affect the ability to think clearly as well as affect judgement, behaviour, energy levels, activity and sleep. It cannot be cured however treatments are available that can help you to manage the symptoms.

Treatment options for bipolar disorder:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy focuses on identifying unhelpful or negative behaviours and beliefs and replacing them with positive and healthy ones. It may be helpful in identifying triggers for episodes of bipolar and developing strategies to help you cope with your condition.
  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy aims to stabilise daily routines and create a more consistent pattern of sleep, exercise and diet.
  • Family therapy can help family members to understand more about the condition and how to recognise and manage the early signs.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

This is a complex disorder that cannot be explained by an underlying medical condition. The symptoms include extreme fatigue which does not improve with rest. Scientists are unclear what causes chronic fatigue syndrome although it is believed to be triggered by a combination of factors which may include psychological stress and viral infections.

Symptoms include:

  • Extreme exhaustion which does not improve with rest or sleep
  • Loss of memory or concentration
  • Headaches and/or muscular or joint pain

Treatment options:

Cognitive training involves talking to a counsellor to help you feel more in control of your life. This can help as chronic fatigue brings with it many restrictions and uncertainties. You may also benefit from gentle exercises which you can build up gradually.

Phobias

A phobia is a fear of a specific thing, situation or animal. People can have phobias about a whole range of things, from heights to needles and the symptoms of a phobia can occur suddenly and without warning.

Symptoms can include:

  • Breathing difficulties or shortness of breath
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Pain or tightness in the chest
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Headaches, nausea or dizziness
  • Panic attack

Some of the most common phobias include:

  • Arachnophobia (fear of spiders)
  • Ophidiophobia (fear of snakes)
  • Acrophobia (fear of heights)
  • Aerophobia (fear of flying)
  • Cynophobia (fear of dogs)
  • Social Phobia (fear of being in a social situation)
  • Agoraphobia (fear of public places)
  • Mysophobia (fear of dirt or germs)

Treatment options for phobias:

Phobias produce a fear response which can be extreme and may interfere with daily living, resulting in anxiety and, in some cases, depression. Psychotherapy has been shown to be effective for phobias and panic disorders and may be used alongside prescribed medication and self-help techniques like meditation and mindfulness.

Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia is a condition that is characterised by pain throughout the body, accompanied by fatigue, sleep and memory problems and mood swings. It is believed to be caused by a change in the way the brain processes pain signals, leading to pain sensations becoming amplified.

The condition may begin after some kind of physical trauma, psychological stress, infection or surgery. In some people symptoms develop gradually over time.

Symptoms include:

  • Pain throughout the body that is experienced as a dull ache
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disorders including sleep apnoea and restless legs syndrome
  • Difficulty concentrating

The condition may be accompanied by other disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, migraine and cystitis.

Treatment

Fibromyalgia is a painful and distressing condition. There is no single effective treatment. However, doctors may prescribe medication to relieve pain and to help promote sleep. CBT, mindfulness and counselling may also help people to deal more effectively with the stress of the condition.

To find out what the best treatment is for fibromyalgia for you, it is best to speak to a specialist who can assess your symptoms and offer advice on how to manage the condition.

Dementech specialises in diagnosing and treating neurological disorders including all types of mental health conditions. For more information contact our experienced and friendly team.

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patient with mental health problem

Common Mental Health conditions and how to treat them

Mental health problems are becoming increasingly common, but why is this and what can be done about it?

Causes of mental health problems

There is no single cause for the growth in mental health disorders over the last 10 years. We believe there may be many different contributory factors. There are more demands on people now compared to previous generations, fuelled by the pressures of social media and instant news. The pace of life has accelerated to such an extent that people are at greater risk of burnout than ever before. Our cognitive and emotional workload is increasing, and many people are finding it harder and harder to find any downtime or to relax in the short amount of leisure time they may have. The result is rising levels of anxiety, depression and stress.

Why is mental illness on the rise? Mr Stelios Kiosses explains in this video.

 

Depression

Depression is very different to feeling low or unhappy. When someone is depressed it can impact every aspect of their lives and they may feel unable to cope with everyday activities. It may affect their physical and mental health, resulting in a loss of interest in things that previously they enjoyed. They may lose their appetite or find themselves unable to sleep.

Anxiety

Anxiety is a natural human response to a perceived threat. It is what we feel when we are worried or tense about things that might happen, particularly if we are facing stressful events or major life changes.

Anxiety becomes a problem if it starts to have a significant detrimental impact on your life. You may be diagnosed as having anxiety if you have felt anxious for a long time or your fears are disproportionate to the situation. You may be experiencing distressing symptoms such as panic attacks, or you may find it hard to go about your normal life.

Stress

Stress is normally related to our reaction to feeling under pressure. This is very individual and what one person finds stressful, another may take in their stride. Stress can become particularly acute when we feel we don’t have control over what is happening to us or we become overwhelmed. Stress isn’t a psychiatric diagnosis however it can trigger mental health problems like anxiety or depression. Conversely, mental health problems can lead to stress.

Stress can also cause physical symptoms including tiredness, headaches and gastrointestinal problems. When we are stressed our bodies produce high levels of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline which are responsible for the body’s fight, flight or freeze response. When we are unable to release these hormones as our ancestors would have done (by running away or fighting, for example) they remain in our bodies and can cause unpleasant physical symptoms.

Treatment for anxiety and depression

The right treatment for mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, varies from one person to the next, depending on the type and extent of the problem and the person’s individual thoughts, beliefs and preferences.

Medication may be prescribed to deal with certain problems, such as anxiety or problems sleeping, but this will not get to the root of the problem. A therapeutic approach such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can be effective in tackling some of the psychological issues that lie at the heart of a person’s depression.

CBT for mental health

CBT works on a person’s behaviour first. This is because when someone becomes depressed, they may stop doing things that they used to enjoy. They may lose motivation and become tired and listless. The focus of CBT is to try and increase the person’s activity levels first, so they begin to experience some of the things they used to enjoy and start to feel better. Once this is in place, the therapist may help the person to work on any negative thoughts or rumination.

How does mindfulness reduce depression?

Mindfulness-based CBT brings together mindfulness techniques such as meditation, stretching and breathing exercises and combines this with elements of CBT. It can be effective in helping to break the negative thought patterns that are a symptom of recurrent depression.

Evidence suggests that mindfulness-based CBT can reduce the risk of relapse of people who experience recurrent depression by as much as 43%. It is recommended by NICE for the prevention of relapse in such people.

Dementech specialise in diagnosing and treating neurological disorders including mental health conditions and can suggest the best treatment plan for you. For more information contact our experienced and friendly team.

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