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Common mental health concerns

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Society as a whole has come a long way in removing the stigma that had been historically associated with mental illness. But no matter how far we’ve come, we’ve still got a way to go before mental illness is accepted as treating the common cold.

If left untreated, mental illness can have some long term damaging consequences, but these consequences can be easily avoided if you know what you’re looking for.

So, let’s take a look at some of the more common mental health concerns.



No matter who we are or how many friends we have, each and every one of us has felt lonely at some point in our lives. We can be surrounded by friends and family, but still feel lonely. Loneliness is about feeling we don’t belong, that no one understands us or feeling a lack of connectedness.

Loneliness can lead to a number of other physical health problems such as high blood pressure, sleep disorders and depression.

So what are the symptoms of Loneliness? Well, they can be different for everybody. It all depends on who you are and what your situation is.

Here are a couple of the broad symptoms of loneliness:

  • You have friends and family but you don’t feel as if you have a deep relationship with them
  • You don’t have a ‘best’ or ‘close’ friend. All the friends in your life are more like acquaintances
  • You have an overwhelming sense of isolation
  • You have negative feelings around self-doubt and self-worth that linger with you over a long period of time.



No matter who we are or how mentally healthy we may be, there’s going to be times in our lives where we feel as if we’re under pressure and overwhelmed.

That’s stress.

It usually occurs when there’s an imbalance between what’s being asked of us and our ability to cope with those demands.

Stress can even cause some physical symptoms as well.

These could be things such as:  

  • Low energy
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Insomnia.



Being sad every now and then is just a perfectly normal part of life. Feeling sad for weeks, months or years can have dramatic consequences on your personal and professional life, not to mention your physical health.

Sometimes depression has no clear cause. 

Then at other times it may be caused by different factors such as:

  • A family history of depression may mean you’re more likely to develop it
  • A medical condition or a chronic illness can contribute to depression through stress and worry
  • A stressful event can trigger depression. This may be family or relationship breakup, job loss and financial pressure, bullying, trauma, and the death of a friend or loved
  • People who tend to worry a lot, are self-critical and have negative thoughts are also at risk.

Depression affects different people in different ways, therefore the symptoms can vary.

Here are some of the more common ones:


  • feeling sad, moody or irritable
  • feeling hopeless or helpless
  • feeling numb or empty
  • feeling guilty and blaming yourself
  • unable to feel good or enjoy things that you normally do.


  • being overly self-critical
  • believing you can’t cope and that things are out of your control
  • difficulty making decisions and thinking clearly
  • poor concentration and memory
  • thoughts of suicide or self-harm.


  • lack of motivation and energy
  • crying a lot
  • losing interest in activities you usually enjoy
  • withdrawing from your friends and family or being more dependent on them
  • increased use of alcohol or other drugs
  • losing your temper more than usual.


  • loss of appetite or over-eating
  • changes in sleep patterns – difficulty getting to sleep, waking up in the middle of the night or sleeping for longer
  • headaches or stomach aches
  • feeling physically sick
  • lack of interest in sex.

Everyone experiences some of those feelings or behaviours from time to time. However, for people experiencing depression, the feelings are severe, and they do not go away over time.



Anxiety is a completely normal reaction to being under pressure.

Public speaking, job interviews or sitting exams; these are all situations where anxiety can pop up and be present. It usually fades once the speech is given or the interview or the exam is over. But for people who suffer with anxiety, that feeling may be present with them during their everyday lives while doing normal everyday things.

Anxiety usually presents in a number of different ways and how people experience it differs with every case.

Some common symptoms may include:

  • Avoiding social situations because you’re too worried
  • Trembling
  • Sweating
  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Obsessiveness
  • Habits such as nervous chatter, playing with your hair, cracking knuckles or biting your lip or nails.


The good news

There’s no need to live with any of the symptoms that we’ve listed above. Most common mental health issues can be successfully treated. The key is to try and seek help as early as possible. That way you and a health professional can start with a treatment plan and you can get back on your feet as soon as possible.

Here are a few things you can do to manage common mental health concerns:

  • A good starting point is to keep a positive attitude
  • Accept the idea that sometimes there are things out of your control
  • Eat healthy meals
  • Exercise for thirty minutes a day (as many days as you can)
  • Try yoga/meditation/tai-chi
  • Practice time management
  • Minimise caffeine, alcohol and drugs
  • Do fun things
  • Get good rest and sleep.

Any one of these things on their own may not have the biggest effect, but if you try and do as many as possible you will start to notice a big difference.

If you’re concerned that you may be suffering from chronic illness the very first thing you should think about doing is making an appointment to see your local doctor. You never know, the loneliness you’re feeling might be a symptom of depression or anxiety which is something that may need to be treated also.


If you or someone you know needs support, please reach out to one of our counselling services.

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