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Mental Health Awareness Week: Day 2 - Stress, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety and Panic Disorder
It’s Day 2 of Mental Health Awareness Week -
Stress, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety & Panic Disorder
You might have an idea about what these issues are, but please do take the time to have a read of our brief summaries or at least the Personal Experience of the Day. You might just learn something!
Everyone can benefit from a little bit of stress from time to time. It can give you the gusto to do all sorts of things.
However, too much or too little can cause an imbalance.
Too little may cause people to seek stimulation through things which are harmful to themselves or those around them.
Too much and you may display symptoms such as anger, depression, anxiety, mood swings, food cravings, lack of appetite, and insomnia.
As students, there are plenty of issues which might cause us stress – for good reason!
When dealing with stress, it’s often a good idea to try identifying the underlying cause. It might be worth having a chat to friends, family, the welfare team, a doctor, a counsellor or Nightline.
What about ‘stress busting’ then?
- Keep doing the things that you love doing.
- Sometimes you might need a bit of downtime, or ‘me time’. Take it easy for 30 minutes and recharge your batteries
- Work smarter, not harder – try to find the work/play balance that suits you!
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychological and physical condition that can be caused by extremely frightening or distressing events, often in which the person felt extreme fear, horror or helplessness.
PTSD can affect anyone; around 5% of men and 10% of women some time in their life. It can happen at any age, including in childhood. An individual with PTSD often relives the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, and has difficulties with concentrating and sleeping, with feelings of isolation and detachment from life. These symptoms can be lasting and severe enough to impair the person's daily life significantly.
PTSD can be treated by seeing a doctor, a councillor, a community psychiatric nurse, a psychologist or a psychiatrist. It is important to realize that it is never too late to ask for help - PTSD is still treatable years after the traumatic event.
Anxiety is somewhat of a blanket term, encompassing stress, nerves, tension, phobias, panic, fear and so on.
Everyone on earth(!) will experience some feelings of anxiety throughout their lives, but if anxiety persists to the point where it interferes with normal life, then it may become a concern. Around 18% of the UK population suffer severe anxiety or panic attacks.
Anxiety can be triggered by a whole range of factors, such as:
· Drug Misuse
· Poor Diet
· Excess Sugar
· Learned response – something picked up from early life – “Be careful of this...”
· Worry about the future
· Something distressing that happened in the past
Anxiety is a symptom; it’s not a diagnosis in its own right. As such, it can accompany a whole range of psychological conditions ranging from depression, phobic disorder, OCD and other issues. What’s important is that it’s recognised!
Common forms of anxiety include:
· Generalised anxiety – general feeling of constant anxiousness
· Social Anxiety – when the person is uncomfortable around groups and will go out of their way to avoid social situations
· Phobia – when there is a trigger that causes intense fear, the sufferer will do anything to avoid the trigger. About 10 million people suffer from a phobia in the UK alone!
Anxiety is a very treatable condition and can improve. Do not feel as though you have to suffer in silence!
Panic Attacks & Panic Disorder
A Panic Attack can occur right out of the blue. The sufferer is consumed by a sudden bout of panic, leading to an attack.
An attack occurs from a build-up of overwhelming sensations, an exaggeration of the body’s normal response to fear, stress of excitement. Symptoms include a pounding heartbeat, feeling faint, sweating, nausea, feeling of unreality or depersonalisation – even fear of death. They come on quickly and last for about 5-20 minutes.
At least 1 in 10 people suffer from occasional panic attacks.
Panic Disorder is when you suffer from these attacks on a regular basis.
What to do if someone has a panic attack:
· One of the most important things is simply to be with that person, and re-assure them that it will pass
· If you both feel comfortable following this, talk through the underlying stresses behind the panic attack
What can you do about Panic Disorder?
· Work out your own response to the anxiety – When did it happen? Why? What happened? How did you feel? Then use this response to learn how to react next time- take some fresh air, play calming music etc.
· Visit your GP, who may or may not recommend medication, such as beta-blockers or anti-depressants.
· Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – Confront the negative ideas and try to replace them with positive thinking – 85% are cured after Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
· Exercise and healthy living.
· Talk about your feelings to your family and friends.
Personal Experience of the day:
The following experience is from a current member of Grey. The daily experiences will not necessarily coincide with the topic of the day but are included to get people thinking about mental health issues and hopefully to realise they are a lot more common than one would think. If anything, they make the issues that the Welfare Team encounter more real. Please treat these accounts with respect and sensitivity.
“When I was fifteen I suffered from a bout of depression. It was weird because it didn’t seem to stem from any obvious event. I’d recently been mugged, suffered a loss in the family, watched my father remarry and have children, come to terms with being gay and felt the pressure of GCSEs looming ever closer. I didn’t realise I was depressed at first, and neither did my friends. I remained my eccentric self, made my friends laugh, still did well at school and things remained fairly normal, but I was extremely unhappy. At the time I didn’t realise that any of the events I mentioned before had affected me at all. But then I realised that there was a difference between being sad and what I felt. I’d sit in lessons feeling physically sick and struggling to concentrate, thinking of fairly random but dark thoughts of loneliness and being unhappy for the rest of my life.
I started to feel out of control of it and would feel the sinking in my stomach of a dark moment setting in, hate it and want to stop it. I thought saying a mantra to myself might help and can remember standing in a lift in a shopping centre with my mum, repeating in my head, “I am in control”. It seemed to help, but wouldn’t stop the dread that it would come again, which it always did. My friends and family started to notice it after quite a long time. If we were having a family meal I might just start to cry, completely out of my control and I felt so embarrassed- stupid, a teenage boy weeping at the end of a chicken tikka masala because he thought that one day he’d be lonely, failing to acknowledge the fact that at that time he had loads of friends and a large, very loving family. I wanted to cry a lot and this worried me. My mum confronted me about it, in a very sensitive way and tried to get to the bottom of it. The problem was, I didn’t really know. Was it school, well yes it was quite stressful, was it being gay, well I wasn’t sure, maybe, it seemed to be everything. After nearly a year of this depression I realised that I was going to be able to live like this for the rest of my life- I wouldn’t be able to. It had already made me ill in other ways and I was worried my low moods were isolating me from my friends, making me fear even more loneliness. It was then that I decided to get help. I was sceptical; if I couldn’t work out what it was that was making me feel so indescribably miserable, how would reeling off a list of petty problems to a smiling face help? But I did it anyway, because I wanted to sort it out and it allowed me to get out of a Physics lesson!
As I sat down in the counsellor’s chair, my heart was racing; I was so nervous, so desperate not to feel depressed anymore and so worried he wouldn’t be able to help me. I was so worried about it I almost left but I took a deep breath and stayed. That was the best decision I believe I’ve made so far in my life. After an hour or so of talking, not really about anything specific- my feelings, my past, my family and most importantly my fears, it had been acknowledged that there was a reason I was feeling like this, that I didn’t have to carry on feeling like this and that I wasn’t the only person to have ever felt like this. I also realised I wasn’t going to have to spend the rest of my life locked away in The Priory!
We had a few sessions of counselling and as I was already starting to realise that my depression was manageable; I didn’t need to take any medicine or see doctors or anything. It didn’t go away over night, but each session made me feel a hell of a lot better!
Relatively quickly (relative to how long I’d been depressed) I began to feel better. I could feel myself gaining control again, thinking differently about how I dealt with my feelings. I never imagined in a million years I’d have the guts to talk about it at Uni- surely people would think I was weird, but since then I’ve actually had a couple of friends come and talk to me for advice when they’re starting to feel low. I cannot tell you how much I regret standing by for a year allowing myself to suffer, when simply talking to someone who knows what to say, or at least who helps you think about it from a different perspective, managed to help me stop feeling that way so quickly. I came out of it as a bold, confidant person. Anyone who’s met me will tell you I’m a loud, lively person and I think would be surprised that I suffered from depression and I can’t see myself ever getting like that again.
Just from my first few weeks at Grey I can see we have a fantastic Welfare team and cannot urge you enough to talk to one of them if you’re feeling low- life’s too short!!!”
Josh, Meera, and the Welfare Team xx
Male and Female Welfare Officers:
Josh Turner: 07805 024 013
Meera Malhotra: 07545 325 493
The Welfare Team:
Lucy Jamieson: 07807 173 308
Pippa Broadway: 07545 978 633
Sophie Wotton: 07985 722 398
Tom McMinigal: 07775 445 812
Matt Slavin: 07979 515 811
Also, Nightline, Durham University's night-time, anonymous listening service is available too through the following:
Instant Messaging (via Skype)
9pm - 7am.
Every night of term there will be two volunteers on duty ready with information or just a listening ear.
For more information, see the Nightline website: http://www.dur.ac.uk/nightline/
posted by meera malhotra @ Tue Nov 2 20:39:26 2010 Share on Facebook RSS Feed