If you feel worried about your mental health or are considering taking your own life, you can call your GP surgery and arrange to speak to someone immediately.

Or the Samaritans offer completely confidential emotional support 24 hours a day.

Phone 116 123 for free or email

Depression and anxiety

The main symptoms are feeling ‘low’ and losing pleasure in things that were once enjoyable. These symptoms may be combined with others, such as feeling tearful, irritable or tired most of the time, changes in appetite, and problems with sleep, concentration and memory.

People with depression typically have lots of negative thoughts and feelings of guilt and worthlessness – they often criticise themselves and their own lack confidence.

Generalised anxiety disorder

The main symptoms are having a number of different worries that are excessive and out of proportion to a particular situation, and having difficulty in controlling one’s worries.

A person with generalised anxiety disorder may also feel irritable and have physical symptoms such as restlessness, feeling easily tired, and having tense muscles. They may also have trouble concentrating or sleeping.

Panic disorder

Panic disorder is where you are having unexpected and recurring panic attacks, and also worrying about having another panic attack.

One of the symptoms of a panic attack is an increased heart rate. A panic attack may happen because of a particular situation – something that the person fears or wants to avoid. Or it may have no obvious cause.

People who have panic attacks often change their behaviour as a consequence of the attack, which may develop into phobias such as agoraphobia – a fear of being in places or situations that are difficult to escape from.

Obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD)

The main symptoms of Obsessive-compulsive Disorder are having thoughts, images or impulses that keep coming into the mind and are difficult to get rid of – called obsessions – and a strong feeling that the person must carry out or repeat certain physical acts or mental processes – called compulsions.

Common obsessions include being afraid of dirt and germs, worrying that something is not safe – such as an electrical appliance – wanting to have things in a particular order, and thoughts and fears of harming someone else.

Common compulsions include excessive washing and cleaning, checking things repeatedly, keeping objects that other people might throw away, and repeating acts, words or numbers in a pattern.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Psychological and physical symptoms that can sometimes follow particular threatening or distressing events.

One of the most common symptoms of Post-traumatic stress disorder is having repeated and intrusive distressing memories of the event.

There may also be a feeling of reliving the event through flashbacks or nightmares. There can also be physical reactions, such as shaking and sweating, depression and anxiety.

Bipolar Disorder

Symptoms greatly affect people’s moods, which can swing from one extreme to another.

People with bipolar disorder have periods or episodes of depression – feeling very low and lethargic, and mania – feeling very high and overactive – less severe mania is known as hypomania.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder depend on which mood you’re experiencing. Unlike simple mood swings, each extreme episode of bipolar disorder can last for several weeks, or even longer. And some people may not experience a ‘normal’ mood very often.


Schizophrenia is a long-term mental health condition that causes a range of different psychological symptoms, including

  • hallucinations – hearing or seeing things that do not exist
  • delusions – unusual beliefs not based on reality that often contradict the evidence
  • muddled thoughts based on hallucinations or delusions
  • changes in behaviour


Self-harm is when somebody intentionally damages or injures their body.

It is a way of expressing deep emotional feelings such as low self-esteem, or a way of coping with traumatic events, such as the death of a loved one.

Eating disorders

Anorexia Nervosa
When you try to keep your weight as low as possible by not eating enough food, exercising too much, or both.

When you sometimes lose control and eat a lot of food in a very short amount of time – binging – and are then deliberately sick, use laxatives – medicine to help you poo – restrict what you eat, or do too much exercise to try to stop yourself gaining weight.

Binge eating disorder (BED)
when you regularly lose control of your eating, eat large portions of food all at once until you feel uncomfortably full, and are then often upset or guilty.

Other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED)
When your symptoms do not exactly match those of anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder, but it does not mean it’s a less serious illness.

Last reviewed: October 31, 2023 by Paul

Next review due: May 1, 2024

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