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All About Mental Health

Mental health is all about how we think and how we feel, which then influences our behaviour, mood, and overall wellbeing.

Mental health   |     Depression    |    Stress    |   Anxiety  |   OCD  |   Getting help 

Everyone’s idea of good mental health is different. Some people feel they have good mental health if they are generally happy most of the time, while others believe simply being able to carry out every day routines indicates they are in a more positive state of mind. Of course, you’ll still experience low moods or have bad days, but you’ll be better positioned to cope with those negative emotions.

On the other hand, if you're struggling with poor mental health, you might find it much more difficult to respond to these stresses. You’ll likely experience overwhelming negative emotions or struggle to carry on with your everyday activities.

We know it can be an uncomfortable topic, but it’s important that everyone better understands their mental health and wellbeing. Read on for more information about mental health, including warning signs of poor mental health.

What are common forms of poor mental health?

Poor mental health impacts your ability to cope with how you think, behave, and react to stresses in everyday life.

From dealing with workplace stresses to processing changes caused by menopause, mental health concerns range in both severity and frequency, affecting your life rarely, occasionally, or regularly. It’s when negative symptoms start to affect a person’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis that mental health can become an urgent matter requiring support.

There are also many mental health myths to be aware of, such as stating that mental health concerns are rare or you can’t recover from them. The truth is that anyone can experience poor mental health, including young people experiencing self-harm, working mums struggling with mental health, and people struggling to adapt to midlife.

Don’t worry though, with the right management and coping mechanisms, you can learn to handle, live with, and recover from any mental health concerns.

What types of mental health concerns are there?

Poor mental health can take many forms, from minor issues to long-term illnesses. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Addictive behaviours
  • Eating disorders

How do I know if I’m experiencing poor mental health?

Symptoms of poor mental health vary from person to person, with some being harder to spot than others. To ensure you’re looking after both yourself or your loved ones, it’s important to be aware of the tell-tale signs.

Common symptoms of poor mental health include:

  • Excessive fatigue: An individual may consistently feel low energy, frequently be tired, or have problems sleeping.

  • Withdrawal: An individual may become more reclusive and less attentive to themselves, friends, or family.

  • Difficulty controlling emotions: An individual may feel or express frequent outbursts of anger, exhibit hostile behaviours, or even be quick to violence.

  • Negative emotions: An individual may often feel or express feeling sad or regularly feeling down.

  • Confusion: An individual may feel or exhibit signs of regular confusion, including a reduced ability to concentrate or properly recall memories or convey thoughts and feelings.

  • Eating habits: An individual may exhibit major changing in their eating habits, including under or overeating.

  • Unable to handle stress: An individual may feel or express an inability to cope with stress, whether it’s daily stress or a larger issue.

  • Inconsistent sex drive: An individual may feel or exhibit either a lack of or increased interest in sexual activities.

It’s worth noting that most of these symptoms can be managed with self help and coping techniques. That said, you can also chat to your local GP, who can offer support on these milder symptoms.

You should also be aware of more severe mental health concerns too, including:

  • Substance reliance: An individual may feel or exhibit a dependency on substances such as alcohol or drugs.

  • Detachment from reality: An individual may suffer from paranoia, delusions, or hallucinations.

  • Suicidal thoughts: In extreme cases, an individual may feel or exhibit self-harming habits. These include, but are not limited to, self-harming with self-inflicted wounds or thoughts of attempting suicide. 

If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of these more extreme signs of poor mental health, you should consult a GP or mental health specialist as soon as possible.

Alternatively, you can find support on mental health crisis helplines available 24/7, such as the Samaritans and the National Suicide Preventions Helpline UK. There are also services that provide help via text, such as Shout, as well as webchats, such as CALM.

If you’re a member of Benenden Health, you can call our own Mental Health Helpline. Day or night, we provide the emotional support you need to cope with any mental health concerns.

Can mental health affect physical health?

There are many symptoms of poor mental health that affect physical health, such as consistently feeling tired or lacking energy throughout the day.

As such, if you work to improve your mental health, you can also help your physical wellbeing, and vice versa. That’s why many mental health specialists advise people to exercise regularly to cope with poor mental health. You don’t even have to be a fitness fanatic to enjoy these improvements, just read our fitness tips for beginners article.

In some severe cases, mental health disorders can increase our risk of chronic health conditions. These include long-term headaches, stomach pains, back pains, and otherwise unexplained aches and pains.

How do I know if my children are experiencing poor mental health?

With the recent COVID 19 pandemic affecting children’s mental health, it’s especially important to look out for signs that children and young adults are experiencing poor mental health.

Signs of poor children’s mental health include persistent sadness, increased irritability, and frequent crying. Regular stomach bugs or physical illnesses can also be signs of mental distress.

Likewise, when young adults are experiencing poor mental health, they may feel like they’d be judged for any mental illnesses and keep quiet or secluded, or they may lash out and act negatively towards you.

What’s important for both children and young adults experiencing poor mental health is to keep calm, listen to their concerns, and reassure them that emotional support is available. This can be from both yourself and mental health professionals from services and organisations such as Mind and the Mental Health Foundation.

For more help, read our guides to spotting both behaviour and physical signs of poor mental health in children and how to provide mental health support for young adults.

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What is Depression?

Depression impacts each one of us differently. For some, the symptoms will be obvious and long lasting, characterised by clear unhappiness and hopelessness. However, other signs are more subtle and fleeting, such as a loss of appetite, making it difficult to come to terms with the full extent of your depression.

Here at Benenden Health, we want to help you better understand these symptoms. Continue reading, below, for more information on ways to help depression, as well as how to identify your or your loved one’s symptoms.

What are the symptoms of depression?

From genetic vulnerability, adverse childhood experiences  and stressful life events this can effect multiple brain structures and functions which helps to regulates mood. In fact, there is typically no individual cause for your depression, with several different triggers leading to the onset of symptoms.

The resulting symptoms of depression can include:

  • Unhappiness
  • Hopelessness
  • Feeling empty
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling consistently tired
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lack of sex drive
  • Suicidal thoughts

It’s also important to understand the difference between experiencing some of these general feelings and actual symptoms of depression.

For example, we’ll all experience unhappiness at some point in our lives, especially during difficult or stressful times. However, this sad or low feeling may just be short term, improving naturally over the subsequent days and weeks.

On the other hand, if someone is consistently experiencing these negative feelings, multiple symptoms at once, or extreme symptoms like suicidal thoughts, they are likely suffering from depression.

What are the signs of depression?

While your symptoms might be difficult to identify, maybe only noticed by you, there are also clear outward signs that your loved ones could pick up on.

The typical warning signs include:

  • Lack of positive feelings: An individual may express or show signs of sadness, including a lack of happiness or satisfaction during everyday life.

  • Lack of ability to function: An individual may express an inability to function and perform day-today activities. This includes a lack of concentration on tasks or conversations, as well as constantly feeling tired.

  • Forced emotions: An individual may show signs of insincerity with their emotions, such as seeming to always appear cheerful.

  • Radical or sudden mood swings: An individual can experience radical emotional mood swings, including quick irritability or sudden bouts of sadness. 

  • Substance abuse: An individual may start drinking more alcohol

It’s important to be vigilant to signs of depression in those who may be most at risk.

For example, you need to be wary of children and young adults experiencing depression, new parents suffering from postnatal depression, and the elderly feeling the effects of extended loneliness.

What are the different types of depression?

The different types of depression vary in severity, which are usually diagnosed either as ‘episodes’ or ‘disorders’.

Episodes refer to depressive episodes, where a medical specialist will diagnose either the first of ongoing episodes or an isolated instance of depression. If you’ve had at least two depressive episodes, the medical specialist could then diagnose the depression as recurrent depressive disorder.

Disorders can be much more varied, with different causes and treatments. Overall, clinical depression is how a medical specialist will diagnose a major depression. There are also specific types of depression, as well as different types of minor depression, which include:

  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD): Most commonly experienced in winter, is a type of depression dependent on either a particular season or type of weather. An individual will be affected at the same time every year, impacting mood and energy levels, sleeping patterns, eating habits, or all the above.

  • Reactive depression (situational depression): An individual will be diagnosed with depression that was triggered by a specific event, such as a death in the family or financial issues.

  • Dysthymia (chronic depression): Also known as persistent depressive disorder or chronic depression, an individual diagnosed with dysthymia has been experiencing mild depression continuously for more than two years.

  • Postnatal depression: Also known as antenatal depression, this can occur both during pregnancy and post-pregnancy. It can also affect both men and women. However, you can get help with depression as a new parent, as well as throughout pregnancy. 

  • Psychotic depression: An individual with psychotic depression will experience symptoms known as psychosis, which can take the form of hallucinations, delusions, or both. Hallucinations include sensory inputs that aren’t real, including sights, sounds, or smells. Delusions include thoughts and beliefs that don’t match with reality, such as extreme paranoia.

  • Bipolar disorder (manic depression): An individual with bipolar disorder will be known to experience periods of depression, which can be mild to severe. These are matched with equally mild or severe periods of elation.

  • Cyclothymia: Not unlike bipolar disorder, an individual may experience periods of depression and elation. However, these will not be considered severe enough or long enough periods for a bipolar disorder diagnosis. 

What is bipolar disorder?

Previously known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that can wildly affect an individual’s mood. This includes experiencing extreme highs and lows, which are known as ‘mania’ and ‘depression’. These range from ecstatic joy or excitement to debilitating sadness and suicidal thoughts.

An individual with bipolar disorder can function perfectly fine on a day-to-day basis yet can abruptly experience these mood swings and be affected by them for weeks. In some cases, they can persist for longer.

While manic phases can provide positives to an individual, such as overwhelming happiness, a copious amount of ambition, and an abundance of inspiration, they can include other negative effects, such as:

  • Excessive energy
  • Faster speech patterns
  • Quick to irritation
  • Lack of appetite
  • Reluctance to sleep

Due to these symptoms, individuals with bipolar disorder are recommended to seek help with mental health, even during manic highs. Like many mental health disorders, bipolar disorder can be treated with talking therapies and medical intervention.

How do I cope with depression?

Depression can affect anybody so it’s important to understand what to be aware of and how to help ourselves or someone suffering from the symptoms. It is important to always address the issue, from employers finding information on how to help their employees with depression to understanding how to spend time with loved ones affected.

Treating and developing coping mechanisms for depression usually falls into one of two methods: self-care and medical treatments.

Self-care treatments for depression involve healthier lifestyle changes, including getting more exercise, adopting a healthier diet, and meeting, working, and speaking with support groups. This also includes removing habits that may develop or exacerbate depression, such as increased alcohol consumption and smoking.

Medical treatments for depression typically involve the same steps, with self-care treatments often being advised for symptoms of mild depression. Medical professionals will recommend implementing these lifestyle changes and conduct “watchful waiting”, which essentially gauges whether any further steps need to be taken to deal with the depression.

If self-care treatments aren’t sufficient, or if mild depression becomes classified as dysthymia, more medical treatments will be engaged. These medical treatments for depression include talking therapies and antidepressant prescriptions. 

If a case is more severe, specialist mental health teams may be able to support in prescribing more effective antidepressants, as well as more intensive talking treatments.

We understand that all that information can seem scary or overwhelming. That’s why we’ve broken down in simple terms the types of treatments for the different levels of depression, below:

  • Self-care with lifestyle changes: Mild depression, such as seasonal affective disorder, depressive episodes, and reactive depression.

  • Self-care with lifestyle changes and medical treatments: Major depression, such as dysthymia (or chronic depression), recurrent depressive disorder, and cyclothymia.

  • Primarily medical treatments: Health conditions, such as postnatal depression, bipolar disorder (or manic depression), and psychotic depression.

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What is stress?

A feeling of emotional or physical tension, stress is how a person reacts to pressure. This type of pressure can be caused by many variants, including feeling threatened, overwhelmed, or challenged.

Stress varies in intensity, ranging from mild and irritating to severe and overpowering. The duration of these feelings also differs from person to person.

It’s natural for most people to feel short bursts of stress from time to time, such as feeling pressure to complete work by a deadline. Notably, short bursts of stress can be positive as provide impetus to complete an issue. Stress is normal and needs to be normalised, however it's when stress affects daily life that we often need to instigate coping mechanisms.

Keep reading, below, for information on how to manage stress, as well as advice on how to identify symptoms and causes of stress.

What causes stress?

There are many common causes of stress that are almost universally understood. However, everyday problems are not the only causes of stress, as larger life events can also contribute to a build-up and persistent feeling of tension. For example, moving house is stressful and can affect individuals not only on the day of the move but in the months leading up to the move as well.

Other underlying causes of stress include:

  • Large life changes or lack of any changes in life
  • Overwhelming amount of work or lack of any fulfilling work
  • Too many responsibilities or a lack of any satisfying responsibilities
  • Inability to control current situations or the results of situations
  • Persistent worries about daily life, as well as past or future events

While there are many common causes, everyone reacts to stress differently. That’s because there are many external factors that can determine how an individual is impacted by stress.

For example, making regular mortgage payments is a universal stressor for homeowners. If a person has considerable financial resources available to make those payments, then they will likely feel little to no stress in this situation. However, a homeowner with more limited financial resources will likely feel much more stressed about fulfilling that monthly debt.

Other examples of factors that can affect stress include:

  • Past experiences: An individual may be more accustomed to and prepared for stressful situations.

  • Levels of support: An individual may have a healthy amount of support from friends and family, as well as external groups like support groups or talking therapy sessions.

  • Resources available: An individual may have more financial, emotional or social resources or more time to handle a stressful situation.

  • Current mindset: An individual may be in a good mental state and more capable of handling a stressful situation. 

What are the symptoms of stress?

Symptoms of stress can include both physical and emotional signs, as well as changes in behaviour. Many of these symptoms may seem apparent to the person suffering from stress, though they can be difficult to identify in someone else.

Physical symptoms of stress

  • Chest pains
  • Elevated heart rate and high blood pressure
  • Stomach problems
  • Headaches, migraines, and dizzy spells
  • Muscle tension
  • General fatigue
  • Sexual problems

Emotional symptoms of stress

  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Constantly worrying
  • Being forgetful
  • Unable to concentrate
  • Difficulty making decision

Behavioural changes indicating stress

  • Avoiding certain people or places
  • Increasingly irritable
  • Sleeping problems
  • Eating problems
  • Substance reliance

What types of stress are there?

There are generally considered to be two types of stress: acute and chronic.

Acute stress is the more common, typically characterised by fleeting, short-term tension caused by everyday factors. For example, the tension felt when injured in an accident. It can also occur during new or exciting experiences.

Chronic stress is the more serious, long-term tension that occurs when consistently encountering stress factors or persists even when stress factors are gone. For example, if the tension from acute stress remains when being injured in an accident, and the individual continues to feel irritable, angry, and tense long after the incident.

In some cases, chronic stress can persist for such a long period that it begins to feel like the norm for the suffering individual. This can occur in cases of extreme stress, such as a difficult work environment, an unhappy marriage, or ongoing financial problems.

What can stress do to your body?

Over time, chronic stress can cause serious and long-term damage to the body. During times of stress, the body responds as if in a life-or-death situation, or for some, it triggers the ‘fight-or-flight’ response. This puts a heavy toll on the nervous system, which fails to distinguish any distinctions between physical and emotional threats.

For example, someone who experiences stress irregularly may experience tension for a few moments but then calm down, allowing their body to resume performing as usual. However, someone experiencing chronic stress will encounter the same trigger and be unable to function calmly or properly for much longer, while finding it difficult to calm down.

Ultimately, this heightened sense of stress and tension wears out the nervous system to the point of basic and important functions slowing down, halting, or deteriorating.

Some of the ways stress can affect your body include:

  • Suppressing the immune system: This makes it much likelier that the body will be unable to fight off illness and infection.

  • Increase blood pressure: This increases the risk of a heart attack or experiencing a stroke. 

  • Upsets digestive systems: This makes diarrhoea and constipation more likely.

  • Disrupts reproductive systems: This makes sexual arousal and sexual activity more difficult to achieve or maintain.

  • Weight problems: This can vary from extreme weight loss to extreme weight gain.

  • Skin conditions: This can include inducing or exacerbating eczema.

  • Exacerbates pain: This can include increased physical aches and pains as well as heightened pain from headaches and migraines. 

  • Disturbed sleeping patterns: This can include inducing insomnia or a lack of deep sleep.

  • Accelerated ageing: This means that the body is burning through cells at a quicker rate than usual.

Although these health problems are harmful enough to the body, stress can also be harmful to your mental health. While stress isn’t considered a mental illness, it can lead to and worsen pre-existing mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression.

How to manage stress?

Stress can feel like an overwhelming sensation, but fortunately, it is manageable.

There are many stress-busting tips you can use in everyday life, which range from simple quick fixes to adjusting your mindset and developing resilience to cope with life stresses. These include calming breathing exercises, getting a better handle on planning with time-management techniques, and talking to friends and family.

Ultimately, lifestyle changes are often considered some of the best ways to manage stress. These include getting more exercise, eating more healthily, and engaging in recreational hobbies. It’s also vital to identify the factors that trigger stress and work towards either removing them or managing them.

Seeking help and advice by talking about problems with loved ones goes a long way too, as does reaching out to support groups. However, for more serious, chronic stress, specialist help is available. This can include talking therapies, medical assistance, or both. These steps are always best taken with medical specialists, so individuals struggling with stress should speak to their GP.

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What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a culmination of uneasy feelings that include constant worrying, nervousness, and fear. 

While most people will experience anxiety at some point in their life, this feeling affects people differently, ranging from mild to debilitating. For example, it’s common to feel nervous about an upcoming job interview, but it’s another issue entirely if it keeps an individual from sleeping at night. 

For these uneasy feelings to be considered a generalised anxiety disorder, the symptoms will be severe and/or persist for a long period of time.

Keep reading, below, for ways to identify symptoms of anxiety, as well as advice on how to deal with anxiety.

What are anxiety symptoms?

While anxiety can take many different forms, there are general symptoms that indicate a generalised anxiety disorder. There are ways to spot the signs of anxiety, including constantly feeling on edge or recognising that another individual always appears stressed. 

Physical symptoms of anxiety

  • Dizzy spells
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Heart palpitations
  • Excessive sweating
  • Uncontrollable trembling
  • Low energy levels
  • Gastrointestinal problems

Psychological symptoms of anxiety

  • Frequently worrying
  • Feeling restless
  • Persistent tension
  • Sense of dread
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping

What are anxiety attacks?

In cases of extreme anxiety, an individual can suffer an ‘anxiety attack’, otherwise known as a ‘panic attack’. These are sudden episodes of intense anxious emotions, such as fear or panic. These can be accompanied by shortness or rapidness of breath, an elevated heart rate, and feeling lightheaded or dizzy. 

There are several different factors that trigger these episodes, ranging from subtle to obvious. Overwhelming stress or a sudden stressful event can trigger a panic attack, as can specific phobias. For example, arachnophobia could result in an individual experiencing a panic attack but wouldn’t affect an individual who doesn’t have the same phobia.

Many equate panic attacks to an overwhelming sensation of the ‘fight-or-flight’ response. Much like when experiencing stress, ‘fight-or-flight’ hormones trigger an automatic reaction that makes the nervous system perceive an event as incredibly frightening. This reaction pushes the body to respond in either one of two ways: ‘fight’, meaning to act in a way that addresses and attempts to resolve the event, or flight, meaning to flee from the event.

Usually, panic attacks last for up to half an hour, with symptoms often being their most severe approximately halfway through the episode. Breathing exercises are commonly recommended as a means of calming a panic attack, especially if the individual closes their

Is anxiety a mental health disorder?

Everyone will feel anxiety at some point or another throughout their lives. It’s whether the feelings are regular or intense enough to be identified as a mental health disorder.

An individual does not need to exhibit several symptoms for them to be considered with a generalised anxiety disorder, simply exhibiting one symptom can result in a diagnosis. Some symptoms may be a signal of another psychological condition, such as depression, or they may be intense enough to be considered an anxiety disorder in itself.

Anxiety can be considered a disorder or mental health problem if an individual experiences:

  • Strong feelings of anxiety
  • Long-lasting anxiety
  • Frequent bursts of anxiety
  • A desire to avoid certain people, places, or situations
  • Anxiety or panic attacks

What are the causes of anxiety?

Anxiety can be caused by several different elements. These include other mental health problems, medical causes, and distinct risk factors, such as whether an individual has experienced or witnessed traumatic events.

Feelings of anxiety can be tied to events that have happened, things that will happen, or even possibilities that may happen in the future.

In some cases, anxiety can be caused by purely hypothetical scenarios, which is then exacerbated by an individual convincing themselves of that situation’s likelihood. For example, feelings of being watched or judged by others, regardless of whether this is true or not.

Mental health issues that can cause anxiety

Mental health issues can both cause and worsen a current anxiety disorder. For example, suicidal thoughts can cause, as well as worsen, anxiety and lead to a further decline in an individual’s quality of life. 

The mental health problems that can lead to or complicate anxiety include:

  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Social isolation
  • OCD

Medical causes that can trigger anxiety

Whether it’s linked to an underlying health issue or caused by a side-effect of medication, anxiety can be triggered by many medical causes. For example, anxiety can be a genetic disorder, passed down in a family, or it can be caused by a separate, physical issue.

The medical causes that can be linked to anxiety include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Substance misuse or withdrawal
  • Heart disease
  • Thyroid problems
  • Diabetes

Risk factors that can increase chances of anxiety

Risk factors are conditions or circumstances that are present in an individual’s life that can lead to triggering anxiety. For example, a child who endured abuse will have that trauma as a risk factor, making them more likely to suffer anxiety than a child who has not endured abuse.

There are several risk factors that can either develop an anxiety disorder or worsen a pre-existing mental illness. Some are unavoidable, while many can be mitigated and handled.

The risk factors that could cause or exacerbate anxiety include:

  • Mounting stress levels
  • Experienced or witnessed traumatic events
  • Use of drugs or alcohol
  • Fretful personality type

How to cope with anxiety?

Like many mental health problems, anxiety can be minimised and handled with simple adjustments to an individual’s daily life. For example, some of the most effective ways to handle anxiety are staying active as well as taking part in enjoyable activities or hobbies.

It’s also recommended to frequently engage in healthy social interaction and foster compassionate relationships, such as with family and friends. Ensuring an individual stays connected to people helps reduce anxiety, even if it’s by reaching out to and joining support groups.

Likewise, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption can help lessen anxious feelings. The same is true of avoiding substance abuse, though some individuals may become anxious when quitting a substance as it has been their primary coping mechanism. In these cases, we recommend speaking to a medical professional or even support groups.

There are also medications that can help an individual cope with anxiety, such as antidepressants. There’s also medical assistance available with CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). To get this type of medical help with anxiety, an individual needs to speak to a medical professional, typically their local GP. 

Dealing with anxiety is not just identifying a suitable coping method, it’s about how an individual implements that method into their daily routine. Setting small targets and expectations helps, as often aiming to ‘fix everything all at once’ can compound these negative feelings. 

To effectively cope with anxiety, the triggers that cannot be changed need to be both understood and embraced. These can include serious medical conditions or triggers from past events. For example, instead of trying to avoid difficult workplace social interactions, choose to talk these incidents through with friends and family. 

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What is OCD?

OCD, short for obsessive-compulsive disorder, is a mental health disorder that sees an individual experiencing uncontrollable recurring thoughts, known as obsessions, as well as repetitive behaviours, known as compulsions. 

Obsessions include invasive and undesired thoughts, worries, or doubts that can frequently arise within an individual’s mind. These thoughts can take the form of urges, images, and phrases, such as: 

  • Unease if things aren’t ‘right’
  • Inappropriate sexual thoughts
  • Worrying violent thoughts
  • Fear of contamination
  • Intrusive relationship doubts

What are the common types of OCD?

Compulsions include actions and activities that an individual with OCD performs to reduce the mental discomfort caused by their obsessions. These actions and activities can be either physical or mental, ranging from:

  • Touching or arranging objects in a particular way, order, or at specific times
  • Frequently cleaning, including individuals cleaning themselves or things around them
  • Regularly counting to a certain number
  • Persistently checking windows or doors are locked
  • Repeating a specific word or phrase, either out loud or internally
  • Consistently requiring assurance from others that everything is okay

An individual should always remember that obsessions and compulsions do not reflect their personalities. Even stressful obsessions, such as inappropriate sexual or sudden violent thoughts, are not indicative of an individual as a person, as they are unlikely to act on such thoughts. 

There are many myths about OCD, which are not true and can be harmful to those living with it. Due to the effects OCD can have on an individual, it is not uncommon for OCD to be a cause of anxiety.

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How do I improve my mental health?

Poor mental health can be mediated by many factors, including improving your diet, cutting down on alcohol consumption, and even just taking a break from work. For more helpful and practical tips, read our guide on how to improve and boost mental health.

There are many ways to help improve your mental health. These range from talking therapies, otherwise known as psychotherapy, to simply keeping in touch with friends and family. In addition, whilst medication may not be the cure-all solution, it does help and can be used in conjunction with psychological intervention and social and family support.

Medical assistance can help with poor mental health. This assistance could be advised by mental health services, such as a local GP.  There are also some areas of psychological services that you can now self-refer yourself to.

How do I get mental health help?

If you feel like you need more support for your mental health beyond self-help treatments, there are many options available to you.

These include speaking to a GP for advice (many GP surgeries now employ MH practitioners and therefore you don’t always have to speak to a GP first), seeking medical assistance, or ongoing support. Calling 111 also provides advice on mental health, while 999 is for more urgent mental health emergencies. Alternatively, there’s more advice for help with mental health with the NHS.

There are other support services that specialise in help with mental health, including:

If you're a member of Benenden Health, we also offer help, support, and advice with mental health on our 24/7 Mental Health Helpline and 24/7 GP Helpline, available from day one of joining. 

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Medically reviewed by Llinos Connolly in October 2023.