5 Common Mental Health Conditions #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

5 Common Mental Health Conditions #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

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By Dr John Baker

In support of Mental Health Awareness Week we highlight five common mental health conditions. The theme of this year’s week is Body Image #bebodypositive so we’re starting with Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Many of us can find our mood affected by changes in our weight and appearance and most people would readily identify physical aspects of ourselves we’d gladly change. But for some people their dissatisfaction with their appearance and specific perceived flaws can become more obsessive and distressing. People with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) can experience obsessive anxiety and demonstrate obsessive behaviours related to aspects of their physical appearance.

Physical characteristics that might be unnoticeable or appear very minor to other people can be fixated upon and amplified by someone with BDD. Symptoms can vary in severity but at the extreme people may feel unable to carry on day to day activities and interactions, or may feel compelled to engage in obsessive controlling behaviours to soothe their body-related anxieties or improve the perceived flaw.

If you recognise the symptoms of BDD in yourself or someone else more information is available on the Mind website here.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive Compulsive disorder (OCD) is a serious anxiety related condition affecting approximately 1.2% of the population.  OCD-UK describes it as involving ‘frequent intrusive and unwelcome obsessional thoughts, often followed by repetitive compulsions, impulses or urges.’ It can be experienced by children, young people and adults and often involves checking, contamination, hoarding or ruminations.

OCD is very treatable with psychological interventions using techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and mindfulness, all of which I can provide.

There is an extract from OCD-uk website highlighting the usefulness of ‘externalising’ as a technique to ‘fight back’ against OCD.


Anxiety affects everyone at some point; for example exams and job interviews, but sometimes this feeling can become out of control and start affecting everyday life.

Anxiety is the main symptom in a lot of conditions such as panic disorder, phobias, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  One common condition is Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).  GAD is estimated to affect up to 5% of the UK population and is a long term condition that makes people feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific thing.  This can cause both physical and psychological symptoms such as feeling restless or worried, having trouble concentrating or sleeping, and heart palpitations.

For more information look at the Mind website here.


Depression is a common mental health difficulty affecting young people and adults, men and women.  The severity of symptoms can change over time and may range from low mood to feelings of self harm and suicidal thoughts.  It is always best to see your GP when you first start to notice these feelings.

There is often a trigger for depression but it can also appear to come out of the blue.  There are many things that can help and qualified healthcare professionals are the best people to advise on what treatment is most suitable for each individual.

This recent article from The Independent offers some insight into a psychological treatment that has been found as useful as anti-depressant medication.


During a psychotic episode the way in which people perceive or interpret things are affected, commonly experiencing hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t real) or delusions (thinking things that aren’t real).  Often the cause of psychosis is a specific mental health condition such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or even severe depression.

If you’d like more information the following leaflet may be useful.

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