HUB: Mental Health Conditions

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We all have feelings of anxiety, worry and fear sometimes. These can be normal responses to certain situations. For example, you might worry about a job interview, or about paying a bill on time. These feelings can give you an awareness of risks and what you need to do in a difficult or dangerous situation. This reaction is known as ‘fight or flight’.

Your brain responds to a threat or danger by releasing stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol. Even if the danger is not real, these hormones cause the physical symptoms of anxiety. Once the threatening situation has stopped, your body will usually return to normal. But if you have an anxiety disorder these feelings of fear and danger can be ongoing and interrupt your daily routine long after the threat has gone. They can make you feel as though things are worse than they actually are.

Everyone’s experience of anxiety disorders is different. Not everyone who has an anxiety disorder will experience the same symptoms. Anxiety can lead to depression if left untreated.
Visit the NHS website for information on Anxiety symptoms, treatment and more.


You may develop post-traumatic stress disorder after experiencing, or seeing, something that you find traumatic.

The symptoms of PTSD can start immediately or after a delay of weeks or months. It will usually start within 6 months of the traumatic event.

You are likely to recover from PTSD. It is possible to be successfully treated from PTSD years after the trauma, so it’s never too late to seek help. But a few people may deal with symptoms for many years. This can develop into a personality change.
Visit the NHS website for information on PTSD symptoms, treatment and more.



Panic disorder is an anxiety disorder where you regularly have sudden attacks of panic or fear.

Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety and panic at certain times. It’s a natural response to stressful or dangerous situations.

But someone with panic disorder has feelings of anxiety, stress and panic regularly and at any time, often for no apparent reason.


Symptoms of panic disorder

  • Anxiety is a feeling of unease. It can range from mild to severe, and can include feelings of worry and fear. Panic is the most severe form of anxiety.
  • You may start to avoid certain situations because you fear they’ll trigger another attack.
  • This can create a cycle of living “in fear of fear”. It can add to your sense of panic and may cause you to have more attacks.
Panic attacks
  • During a panic attack you get a rush of intense mental and physical symptoms. It can come on very quickly and for no apparent reason.
  • A panic attack can be very frightening and distressing.
  • Most panic attacks last between 5 and 20 minutes. Some have been reported to last up to an hour.
  • The number of attacks you have will depend on how severe your condition is. Some people have attacks once or twice a month, while others have them several times a week.
  • Although panic attacks are frightening, they’re not dangerous. An attack will not cause you any physical harm, and it’s unlikely you’ll be admitted to hospital if you have one.
Visit the NHS website for information on Panic Disorder symptoms, treatment and more.



Everyone has ups and downs. Sometimes you might feel a bit low, for lots of different reasons. People may say that they are feeling depressed when they are feeling down, but this does not always mean that they have depression.

Depression is a long lasting low mood disorder. It affects your ability to do everyday things, feel pleasure or take interest in activities.

Depression is: 
  • a mental illness that is recognised around the world,
  • common – it affects about one in ten of us,
  • something that anyone can get, and
  • treatable.

Depression is not:

  • something you can ‘snap out of’,
  • a sign of weakness,
  • something that everyone experiences, or
  • something that lasts forever as one episode.

Doctors might describe depression as ‘mild’, ‘moderate’ or ‘severe’. Your doctor may offer you different treatments depending on how they describe it.

How common is depression?

Depression can affect people of any age, including children. It is one of the most common mental illnesses. The number of people who have depression may be higher than this because not everyone with depression goes to their GP.
Visit the NHS website for information on Depression symptoms, treatment and more.


Bipolar disorder can be a life-long mental health problem that mainly affects your mood. It affects how you feel and your mood can change massively. You can experience episodes of mania and depression.

You may feel well between these times. When your mood changes, you might see changes in your energy levels or how you act. Bipolar disorder used to be called manic depression.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder can be severe. They can affect areas of your life, such as work, school and relationships.

You usually develop bipolar disorder before you are 20. It can develop in later life but it rarely develops after the age of 40.

You can have symptoms of bipolar disorder for some time before a doctor diagnoses you. A doctor might say you have something else such as depression before you get a bipolar disorder diagnosis.

Bipolar symptoms can make it difficult to deal with day-to-day life. It can have a bad effect on your relationships and work.

Further information about depression can be found above.

Visit the NHS website for information on Bipolar Disorder symptoms, treatment and more.



Psychosis is a medical term. If you have psychosis you will process the world around you differently to other people. This can include how you experience, believe or view things.

You might see or hear things that others do not. Or believe things other people do not. Some people describe it as a “break from reality”. There are different terms use to describe psychosis. Such as “psychotic symptoms”, “psychotic episode” or “psychotic experience.”

Traditionally psychosis has been seen as a symptom of mental illness. But this isn’t necessarily the case. Psychosis is not always because of a mental illness. There are many theories about what causes people to experience psychosis.

You may not find it helpful to think of your experiences as symptoms of a mental illness. You may have a different belief.

This page will use the word ‘experiences’ to describe what you may go through if you have psychosis. In mental healthcare, your experiences may be referred to as ‘symptoms’ of psychosis.

Common examples of psychosis include Hallucinations – when you see, hear or feel things that other people don’tDelusions – these are beliefs that are not based on reality and Cognitive Experiencesexperiences that relate to mental action, eg: concentration and/or memory problems. 

Visit the NHS website for  information on Psychotic Disorder symptoms, treatment and more.



Schizophrenia is a mental illness which affects the way you think. The symptoms may affect how you cope with day to day life, though everyone is different and not everyone with schizophrenia will get all of the symptoms.

Schizophrenia is a common illness. About one in a hundred people will develop schizophrenia. It can develop during young adulthood. The early stage of the illness is called ‘the prodromal phase’. During this phase your sleep, emotions, motivation, communication and ability to think clearly may change.

If you become unwell this is called an ‘acute episode’. You may feel panic, anger or depression during an acute episode. Your first acute episode can be a shocking experience because you are not expecting it or prepared for it.


Positive symptoms: 

The terms ‘positive symptoms’ and ‘psychosis’ are generally used to describe the same symptoms. The following are positive symptoms.

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Disorganised thinking


Negative symptoms: 

These are symptoms that involve loss of ability and enjoyment in life. They can include lack of motivation, slow movement, change in sleep patterns and poor grooming or hygiene.


Cognitive Experiences: 

Another negative symptom is cognitive impairment. This means that your mind is affected in a negative way. Cognitive experiences are ones that relate to mental action; such as learning, remembering and functioning.

Negative symptoms are much less dramatic than positive symptoms. They may last longer, and stay after positive symptoms fade away. Many people with schizophrenia feel that the negative symptoms of their illness are more serious than the positive symptoms. Negative symptoms can vary in severity.

Visit the NHS website for further information on Schizophrenia symptoms, treatment and more.



An eating disorder is a mental illness. You will use food to try to manage your feelings. If you have an eating disorder you will have an unhealthy relationship with food. This may be eating too much or too little food. Or eating a lot of food in one sitting. You may become obsessed with food and your eating patterns if you have an eating disorder.

Anyone can develop an eating disorder. It doesn’t matter what your age, gender, cultural or racial background is.

ReThink provides advice and information about different eating disorder diagnoses, signs and symptoms:

NHS Fact Sheets for specific eating disorders are as follows: