Mental health problems can take many forms and have a big impact on your quality of life, this can include depression and anxiety, obsession, compulsion and eating disorders.
Depression is not always easy to spot; it occurs when difficult emotions become overwhelming and can be triggered by a number of things such as conflict at home, stress or not being listened to. Depression commonly appears for the first time in people aged 15-19. The good news is that whilst depression is a serious illness, it can be treated and many people overcome mental illness.
Anxiety is excessive fear and worry. Teenagers may demonstrate this by having panic attacks or being frightened of leaving the home. Obsessions are intrusive thoughts or ideas that often feel silly or unpleasant. Obsessive compulsive disorder occurs as a result of deep anxiety, when young people feel compelled to do something even when they don't want to do it such as repeatedly checking that a door is locked. Often people try to stop themselves from doing these things, but feel frustrated or worried unless they can carry them out.
Eating disorders such as binge eating, anorexia and bulimia are becoming more common, and they affect young people of both sexes, and of every age and background. In anorexia the sufferers have a distorted image of their own bodies and constantly attempt to get thinner, sometimes to the point of starvation. Symptoms include cessation of menstrual periods, lethargy, depression, mood swings and intense fear of becoming fat. Between 4 and 10 per cent of women suffer from bulimia. Bulimics may be about average in weight and in public appear to eat normally, so the disorder can be difficult to spot. The fear of gaining weight leads to a cycle of binge eating followed by vomiting and/or the use of laxatives.
Self harm can be very hard to understand, but it is much more common than we think. One in ten children undertake some form of self-harm. Often the behaviour will be hidden and secretive. Self-harm can take many forms including cutting arms or legs with a knife or razor, burning, biting, hitting themselves or taking overdoses. Luckily most people who self-harm do not want to kill themselves, or even do lasting damage to their bodies. Teenagers may hurt themselves to help with negative feelings, to punish themselves or to feel more in charge. Self-harm can be a way of relieving overwhelming feelings when they feel alone, angry, guilty or desperate. Some teenagers self-harm over a period of years, while others do it just once or a few times.
How to get help
If you are experiencing mental health problems, please get the support that you need as soon as possible, there are lots of organisations that can help:
- The Mix for essential support for under 25's. Call 0808 808 4994
- National Self Harm Network forum
- Time to change
Or contact the South Norfolk Help Hub:
Call 01508 533933
Text ADVICE followed by your message to 87007