Mental health conditions


What is depression?

Depression is a low mood that lasts for a long time and affects a person's everyday life. Mild depression can mean low in spirits, it may not stop you from leading a normal life but makes everything harder to do and seem less worthwhile. When you have depression severely, it can be life-threatening because it can make you feel like you don’t want to live anymore. You can find out more about depression by visiting the Royal College of Psychiatrists website.

This three minute animation from the Royal College of Psychiatrists shows what it can feel like to be depressed:

What is psychosis?

Psychosis is when there has been some loss of contact with reality. When someone becomes ill in this way it is called a psychotic episode. During a period of psychosis, a person's thoughts and the way they see the world is confused so they may have difficulty understanding what is real and what is not. People who experience a psychotic illness may have false beliefs or delusions that can’t possibly be true e.g. “I can fly”. Or they may see or hear things that others don’t see or hear, such as voices. People that have psychosis can have another diagnosis, for example they could also have bipolar or depression.

What is bipolar disorder?

A person who has bipolar will experience a big change in their moods. They will go from feeling very low and down to being very happy and excited with lots of energy. These different moods can last for a few weeks before changing again.

What is personality disorder?

Someone with personality disorder struggles to deal with negative feelings such as upset or anger. They may avoid people and find it hard to keep close friendships or relationships. More information on personality disorder is available on the NHS Choices website.

What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is often referred to as PTSD. Someone who has PTSD will have gone through or seen a horrible event, which could have been something scary or dangerous. They can have flashbacks years after the memory and feel frightened or stressed at times when everything is fine around them. They may have bad dreams and avoid going to certain places which may remind them of the past scary event.

What is addiction?

Some people may be addicted to alcohol, drugs, eating or gambling. An addiction to one of these is out of a person's control, they are unable to say no or walk away. Most people turn to addiction to help them cope with something in their life or to avoid their problems. There is more information on our Surrey Drug and Alcohol website.

What is OCD?

OCD means Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is an anxiety disorder. It has two parts:

  • Thoughts or obsessions: obsessions are unwelcome thoughts, images, urges, worries or doubts that repeatedly go around in your mind, they make you feel very worried that something may happen so you often respond by using compulsions
  • Actions or compulsions: these are often repetitive activities that reduce the anxiety caused by the obsession e.g. checking the door is locked, repeating a phrase out loud or knocking on a table 10 times

An example of OCD is someone who cannot stand for the house to be untidy due to the fear of getting unwell or falling over items left on the floor. They act on these thoughts by tidying the house and trying to remove the possibility of these things happening. Many people have these thoughts and do these things without thinking and can go to work, have friendships, go out without the thoughts bothering them. However, for some people these thoughts can be so overwhelming that they may spend all of their day and evening repeatedly tidying the same area, hoovering the same floor, washing their hands until they hurt and they can become ‘trapped’ within these thoughts / obsessions and actions / compulsions. This makes leading a normal daily life difficult.

What is anxiety?

Feeling anxious is normal in certain situations, such as when you are about to walk on stage or you have a test. Feeling worried or nervous may lead to your heart beating faster and cause your palms to sweat. This is a natural reaction to a stressful situation. For most of us, this feeling will pass once the situation is over however for some these responses can last a lot longer and lead to them avoiding certain situations. This may be fine if you decide you want to avoid going on stage again but may become difficult to manage if you start to become fearful for no particular reason and feel you cannot leave your house or see your friends.