19 free Mental Health apps just for you

19 Mental Health apps designed to suit your mental health problems

Black and white picture young lady sitting on a bench, shoulders hunched and face down. What do you know about anxiety
Mental Health apps to help
you with your anxiety

Do you experience stress, anxiety, panic attacks, OCD, ptsd or depression? Do you need help right now? We know that referral waiting times for NHS Mental Health Services, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), are often months long. This is not particularly helpful when you or someone you know is in crisis! However, hang on in there — helpful Mental Health apps are available for you to to download immediately.

Do you want to stop smoking or drinking, or do you just want to improve your mood? Do you need help in managing your anger? Take a look at the following free apps and you decide which one suits your current issue(s).

  • ACT Coach was created by VA’s National Center for PTSD (for Veterans). Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) aims to help you live with unpleasant thoughts, feelings, and impulses without avoiding them or being controlled by them. In ACT, you are encouraged to commit to actions so that you can live your life by your values, even in the face of these unpleasant experiences.
  • AIMS for Anger Management (US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). AIMS is designed for Veterans and military Service members but can be used by anyone coping with anger problems. The AIMS app is based on the Anger and Irritability Management Skills online self-help course. The app provides you with education about anger, opportunities for finding support, the ability to create an anger management plan, anger tracking, and tools to help manage angry reactions.

Anybody can become angry — that’s easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way that isn’t within everybody’s power and isn’t easy.

Aristotle
Black and white picture of dark-skinned woman with scarf over face (eyes showing). Mental Health 360⁰
Mental illness can lead to suicide — try these online mental health apps
  • Anxiety UK has released a FREE Smartphone Application called Stress Tips, which provides people with ‘top tips’ from fellow anxiety sufferers on how to manage anxiety and stress. Stress Tips includes more than 40 tips from people on how they manage stress and anxiety and will be developed further in the future to include relaxation techniques and the ability to upload tips. I particularly like this one as it comes from people who experience anxiety.
  • AETAS developed by mental health specialists, provide quick, easy and effective ways to relax, attain focus, and gain a sense of well-being. Aetas’ unique 4-part design provides info about cutting edge research on time perspectives, a self-discovery quiz, 3 two-minute guided visualisations to help relax, sooth and focus, and 3 fun interactive exercises.
  • Breathe2Relax  (by National Center for Telehealth & Technology) is a portable stress management tool which provides detailed information on the effects of stress on the body and instructions and practice exercises to help users learn the stress management skill called diaphragmatic breathing.
  • Calm Harm is an app designed to help people resist or manage the urge to self-harm. It’s private and password protected. The urge to self-harm is like a wave. It feels the most powerful when you start wanting to do it. Learn to ride the wave with the free Calm Harm app using these activities:
    • Comfort, Distract, Express Yourself, Release, Random and Breathe.
    • When you ride the wave, the urge to self-harm will fade.
  • Daylio – Keep a free private diary and capture your day without writing down a single line! Collecting recorded moods and activities in the statistics and calendar. This format will help you to understand your habits better, keep track of your activities and create patterns to become more productive.
Black and white picture of man in a suit, rubbing his eyes, tears down face. Mental health apps for everyone
Mental health apps — for everyone
  • DBT Diary Card and Skills Coach – Learn and practice DBT skills using video lessons and fun animations which helps you to remember skills longer. Features over 100 videos and 200+ animations. This app works as a daily mood and thought diary based on the Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) approach. It has a coaching module that gives tips on sticky emotional situations, like how to ask for what you need or how to successfully resolve conflict. DBT Diary Card and Skills Coach is the only DBT app designed by a licensed clinical psychologist.
  • Depression CBT Self-Help Guide The natural management of depression involves understanding depression and the factors that contribute to the symptoms. Learning to manage stress in your life and engage in self-care behaviours can improve your symptoms and your mood. This app contains a depression severity test, audios, articles, a cognitive diary, and a motivational points system that help you learn how to do this.
  • Happify is the single destination for effective, evidence-based solutions for better mental health. It has array of engaging games, activity suggestions, and gratitude prompts makes Happify a useful shortcut to a good mood. Designed with input from 18 health and happiness experts, Happify’s positive mood-training program is psychologist-approved.
Mental health apps for OCD
  • OCD relief exercises Suffering from obsessive thinking? Looking to relieve your OCD symptoms? Wish to feel better, have more confidence and enjoy improved well being? Want to expand your mind and make it more adaptive?
  • PTSD Coach is for anyone who needs help with upsetting feelings. Trauma survivors, their families, or anyone coping with stress can benefit. PTSD Coach (developed by the US Department for Veteran Affairs), provides reliable information regarding PTSD, its symptoms and its management.
  • Quit It is a tiny motivating program, supporting and encouraging smokers to quit smoking and helping ex-smokers to stay quit. It keeps track of the cigarettes you did not smoke and how much money you are saving. Furthermore it shows the benefits of quitting as text and calculates a nice ranking for you.
  • SAM is a friendly app that offers a range of self-help methods for people who are serious about learning to manage their anxiety.
  • Sanvello for Stress & Anxiety helps you understand you: your thoughts, moods, and behaviors all shape how you feel. Sanvello gives you clinically validated techniques to help you manage your moods and thoughts, so you can understand what works for you to feel better.
Colour photo of man's back. He's facing the sun sitting on the rocks meditating.
Relaxation and meditation — mental health apps —
Image by Ian Stauffer, Unsplash
  • Stop, Breathe, Think! This calming meditation app experience is uniquely designed to help you stay mindful, de-stress, sleep better, and build the emotional strength and confidence to handle life’s ups and downs. Mindfulness & meditation is the practice, Stop, Breathe & Think is the process.
  • Stop Drinking is designed to help listeners relax and overcome the emotional and physical cravings for Alcohol. This relaxing, positive, motivational App will give you the tools to change your thinking and access the incredible power of your unconscious mind. You can learn to easily break unwanted habits and regain control of your clarity of thought, well-being, money, health and much more. Far more powerful than simple mantras or positive thinking, this App uses the power of relaxation, hypnotherapy, positive suggestions and visualisation to allow you to achieve what you want to achieve.
  • Stress and Anxiety Companion This is a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) app designed to help users manage anxious feelings and identify their triggers. The app has three main features; ‘Tools’, ‘Thoughts’, and ‘Cards’. The ‘Tools’ section has a number of activities aimed to reduce stress and anxiety levels; there are two relaxation audio tracks, one 15-minute Mindfulness exercise and one 10-minute Progressive Muscle Relaxation exercise, a visually aided breathing exercise, and brain games to help interrupt anxious or negative thinking.
  • Worry Tree – is a simple way to take control of your worries. It has been designed to help you record and manage your worries on the go through a CBT-based simple, secure app. WorryTree has been assessed by the NHS as meeting their criteria for entry onto the NHS Digital Apps Library. WorryTree helps you to build the habit of asking yourself, what are you worrying about right now? We’ll help you to decide whether your worry is something that can be resolved or something you have no control over. Then you can create an action plan for taking control of your worry or find ways to distract yourself from your anxious thoughts. Furthermore, you’ll explore ways to distract yourself from your worry so that you can move on with your day.
  • Worry Watch is a unique app that helps to reflect on those momentary priceless self-realizations. By writing down our ‘what if’ anxious thoughts and tracking it to ‘what did’ happen reality, we may get a deeper understanding of our anxiety patterns and triggers. Such an understanding may help challenge our negative thinking habits and affirm optimism instead.

Over to you now

Clipart.com

Have you or anyone you know tried any of the above or any other apps? I’d be really interested to hear your views. I’m happy to answer any questions and I look forward to your comments.

You might also want to read this Useful Mental Health Contacts list here. In the meantime, if you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health problem or crisis, please contact your G.P. or please call 999 for an immediate response.

Improve your life by changing your faulty thinking

My last post was about our faulty thinking (cognitive distortion) such as all-or-nothing thinking, over-generalization and magnification or minimisation, which are commonly associated with lots of mental health disorders. I think we’d all agree that this unhelpful faulty thinking is just like any other automatically occurring bad habit, something we want to change.

Did you know — with practice and effort, you can become more aware of what is happening in your mind and change how you are thinking for the better?

Time.com

Although it may seem overwhelmingly difficult to change your own ways of thinking, it is actually comparable to any other skill – it is hard when you first begin, but with practice, you will find it easier and easier to challenge your own negative thoughts and beliefs. Think about it; you wouldn’t expect to drive a car onto the motorway if you’ve only ever practiced driving once.

Today we’ll look at our both our Automatic Thoughts (download a worksheet here) and Decatastophising (download a worksheet here). These models come from cognitive behavioral therapy, which aims to change our thought patterns, our conscious and unconscious beliefs, our attitudes, and, ultimately, our behavior, in order to help us face difficulties and achieve our goals.

Automatic Thought Records

The Automatic Thought Records worksheet is an excellent tool for identifying and understanding your cognitive distortions. Our automatic, negative thoughts (ANT’s) are often related to a distortion that we may or may not realize we have. An ANT might occur when a friend on the opposite side of the road passes by, your first ANT might be “She just ignored me.”

Completing this exercise can help you to figure out where you are making inaccurate assumptions or jumping to false conclusions.

The worksheet is split into six columns:

  • Date/Time
  • Situation
  • Automatic Thoughts (ATs)
  • Emotion/s
  • Your Response
  • A More Adaptive Response

First, you note the date and time of the thought.

In the second column, you will write down the situation. Ask yourself:

  • What led to this event? i.e. “Friend walked past.”
  • What caused the unpleasant feelings I am experiencing? i.e “She ignored me.”
ucjui.com

The third component of the worksheet directs you to write down the negative automatic thought, including any images or feelings that accompanied the thought. You will consider the thoughts and images that went through your mind, write them down, and determine how much you believed these thoughts.

After you have identified the thought, the worksheet instructs you to note and write down the emotions that ran through your mind along with the thoughts and images identified. Ask yourself what emotions you felt at the time and how intense the emotions were on a scale from 0-10 (0 = barely felt it and 10 = completely overwhelming).

Next, you have an opportunity to come up with an adaptive response to those thoughts. This is where the real work happens, where you identify the distortions that are cropping up and challenge them.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Which cognitive distortions were you employing?
  • What is the evidence that the automatic thought(s) is true, and what evidence is there that it is not true?
  • You’ve thought about the worst that can happen, but what’s the best that could happen? What’s the most realistic scenario?
  • How likely are the best-case and most realistic scenarios?

Finally, consider the outcome of this event. Think about how much you believe the automatic thought now that you’ve come up with an adaptive response, and rate your belief (on a scale of 0-10, with 0 being ‘don’t believe the automatic thought at all’ and 10 ‘believe entirely’). Write this on your Thought Record.

Determine what emotion(s) you are feeling now and at what intensity you are experiencing them (you can use a scale of 0-10) Write this down too.

Decatastrophizing

Psychcentral.com

This is a particularly good tool for talking yourself out of a catastrophizing situation.

The worksheet begins with a description of cognitive distortions in general and catastrophizing in particular; catastrophizing is when you distort the importance or meaning of a problem to be much worse than it is, or you assume that the worst possible scenario is going to come to pass. It’s a reinforcing distortion, as you get more and more anxious the more you think about it, but there are ways to combat it.

First, write down your worry. Identify the issue you are catastrophizing by answering the question, “What are you worried about?”

Once you have articulated the issue that is worrying you, you can move on to thinking about how this issue will turn out.

Think about how terrible it would be if the catastrophe actually came to pass. What is the worst-case scenario? Consider whether a similar event has occurred in your past and, if so, how often it occurred. With the frequency of this catastrophe in mind, make an educated guess of how likely the worst-case scenario is to happen.

After this, think about what is most likely to happen–not the best possible outcome, not the worst possible outcome, but the most likely. Consider this scenario in detail and write it down. Note how likely you think this scenario is to happen as well.

alamy.com

Next, think about your chances of surviving in one piece. How likely is it that you’ll be okay one week from now if your fear comes true? How likely is it that you’ll be okay in one month? How about one year? For all three, write down “Yes” if you think you’d be okay and “No” if you don’t think you’d be okay.

Finally, come back to the present and think about how you feel right now. Are you still just as worried, or did the exercise help you think a little more realistically? Write down how you’re feeling about it.

This worksheet can be an excellent resource for anyone who is worrying excessively about a potentially negative event.

So today we’ve looked at our automatic negative thoughts and decatastrophising. Did you complete any of the exercises? If yes, what did you learn. If no, why not — what stopped you from completing them?

I’d certainly be interest in your thoughts.

Eufic.com

Much of this post has been adapted from Positivepsychology.com and therapistaid.com two self-help sites that have science-based online resources, techniques, tools, and tips. I’ve borrowed their worksheets but you can also take a look at the sites where you’ll find lots of great info to help your mood.

Tips to help you with your anxiety and panic attacks

Panic attacks can be sudden and overpowering. They can affect anyone and may be caused by general anxiety, panic disorder, or depression (Medical news today).

You’re probably reading this because you’ve experienced or you’re still having anxiety/panic attacks. I know when I was suffering from them, I tried absolutely anything I could think of because I was so desperate.

Getty images

I couldn’t sleep for days on end because of the panic attacks. I experienced most of the common physical symptoms of anxiety: muscle tension, headaches, backaches, a clenched jaw, feeling keyed up, restless, and “on edge”, as well as difficulty concentrating. These symptoms are a side effect of our body’s attempts to protect us; blood moves around our body and brain, into our large muscles, like our arms, legs, back, and neck, to get us ready to ”fight” or to “flee.”

Eventually I became psychotic (you may want to read about it here) . After only three or four nights without sleep, anyone can start to hallucinate (a psychosis or a psychotic episode is not schizophrenia).

When we experience anxiety/panic, the first thing that happens is our senses observe our environment, and we feel that rush of cortisol in our brain as the fight-or-flight mentality begins to set in. This is something humans have evolved to do to be able to sense danger and respond quickly, which is why it all happens in a matter of seconds (Sal Raichbach, Ambrosia Treatment Centre). This means we need to feel some kind of anxiety in response to danger i.e. if a car was thundering towards you, you’d feel anxious and try to get out of its way.

We obviously realise we are panicking and that’s all we can think of in that moment. We don’t automatically think OMG, why am I panicking, do we? We just think OMG I’m panicking. Let’s have a look first at the onset of anyone’s anxiety/panic attack. Something happens, something causes the panic attack to start.

Only you will know how your anxiety/panic attack starts, though you may not even be aware of it – yet. So now we’ll learn the mechanics of how a panic attack begins. It might start with:

Flintrehab.com

(1) negative thoughts i.e. “I’ll fail all my exams”, “I’m always going to have panic attacks”, “I shouldn’t have shouted at the kids this morning, I’m such a bad mum/dad” or “I’ll get thrown out of my home cos I can’t pay the rent” etc.

(2) negative physical feeling i;e. stomach churning, heart palpitating, sweating, dry mouth, shaking, nausea, vomiting.

(3) negative emotional feelings i.e. sadness, fear, disgust, shame.

(4) negative behaviour i.e. stealing your friends medication, isolating yourself, turn to alcohol or illicit drugs.

So, let’s clarify – a panic attack could start after -thoughts, -physical feelings, -emotional feelings or -behaviours

Let’s take a look at the following diagram, used in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which is the psychological treatment of choice recommended for a variety of mental health problems by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).

Mind

Look at how our thoughts, feelings and behaviours all interact with each other.

For example: the -behaviour was to overeat, stop dieting or eat unplanned food which evoked -thoughts i.e. I’m so weak willed and this led to -feelings i.e. depressed, ashamed which, in turn perpetuated the -behaviour i.e. continue to overeat because you’ve blown the diet anyway.

Still looking at the diagram, see how you can turn this on it’s head and you may have the -feelings first i.e. depressed which led to your -behaviour of overeating, after which you had -thoughts i.e. I’m such a pig, I can’t even stick to a diet.

I’ve only used the above as an example. However, it doesn’t matter what the issue is, this CBT model can be used for all negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Let’s take a look at another issue:

Santa Clara University

We’re still looking at the links between -thoughts, -feelings and -behaviours; it’s just the issue itself, example above, will be different and personal to you.

I’m going to share a little known fact with you here. Just have a think for a moment. What has previously or what would make you feel really excited (and I don’t need to know)? Don’t read any further until you’ve got that thought!

123rf.com

Now, you might absolutely love or hate roller coaster rides and, depending on how you feel about them, your thoughts or feelings might have started to kick in when you saw the photo. If you hate them, you might be thinking “yuk, I hate roller coasters” (-thought) or your stomach may have turned over at the sight of the picture (-feeling). If ever I saw a spider, even on a page – it made me anxious and I had to turn the page quickly (-behaviour).

While I’ve just made you think about whether you like roller coasters or not – that wasn’t really my whole intention. I wanted to distract you from reading any further until you’d thought of what has or would excite you. I hope you’ve been able to think of at least one event, occasion, gift or …………

Do you remember what it felt like to be so excited? Think about that for a few seconds………

Livinginthepiecezone.blogspot.com

Did you ever get that butterflies feeling in your stomach? Have you ever felt shaky and tearful when someone gave you a lovely surprise? Did your heart ever pound with excitement pre-Christmas or your birthday party? I really hope you did – because I would feel really sad for anyone who had never experienced any of these sensations.

7cups.com

Here’s the little known fact -both excitement and panic/anxiety involve the same chemical process in the brain. That’s because anxiety and excitement are both aroused emotions. In both, the heart beats faster, cortisol surges, and the body prepares for action. In other words, they’re “arousal congruent.” The only difference is that excitement is a positive emotion‚ focused on all the ways something could go well (Alison Wood Brooks, a professor at Harvard Business School).

When we feel anxious/panicky, we’re most likely to tell ourselves to just relax or calm down. But this might be precisely the wrong advice, Brooks said. Instead, the slogan should be more like, “Get Amped and Don’t Screw Up.” In other words, it’s so much easier to convince yourself to be excited rather than calm when you’re anxious.

So, if you could retrain your mindset, rather than saying/thinking “OMG I feel anxious about my driving test”, try saying “I feel excited about my driving test”. It boils down to telling yourself that you feel excited whenever you feel nervous. It sounds stupidly simple, but it’s proven effective in a variety of studies and settings. Try it.

The excitement reappraisal won’t actually make you less anxious, nor will it lower your heart rate. That’s because your underlying anxiety is the same—it’s just reframed as excitement.

The way this works, Brooks said, is by putting people in an “opportunity mindset,” with a focus on all the good things that can happen if you do well, as opposed to a “threat mindset,” which dwells on all the consequences of performing poorly.

Okay. We’ve looked at anxiety and panic attacks so, what can we do about them? Right at the start, when you have the initial -thought i.e. when you wake up and you think “Oh, no. I feel yuk about today’s presentation” or you have a -feeling i.e your heart starts to race:

Feminismtoday.com

Stop. Take stock of the situation. Try “Oh, I’m excited about today’s presentation”, “I’m excited that my driving test is today”or “I’m excited about my interview today”.

Accept and recognise: You might have experienced panic attacks in the past. During an attack, it can help to remember that it will pass and cause no physical harm, though they are unpleasant. Acknowledge that the attack is a brief period of concentrated anxiety and that it will end (Medical news today).

Learn what triggers your anxiety/panic attack: it may be crowds or small spaces etc.

Do an evidence-based breathing technique like Slow Diaphragmatic Breathing:

  1. Sit comfortably in a chair with your feet on the floor. You can lie down if you wish.
  2. Fold your hands on your belly.
  3. Breathe in slowly and calmly. Fill up the belly with a normal breath. Try not to breathe in too heavily. The hands should move up when you breathe in, as if you are filling up a balloon. Avoid lifting the shoulders as you inhale; rather, breathe into the stomach.
  4. Breathe out slowly to the count of “5”. Try to slow down the rate of the exhale. After the exhale, hold for 2-3 seconds before inhaling again.
  5. Work to continue to slow down the pace of the breath.
  6. Practice this for about 10 minutes.

This works best if you practice this two times each day for 10 minutes each time. Try to find a regular time to practice this each day. The more you practice, the easier you’ll find it to use when you most need it.

Try Relaxation; this happens when the body stops trying to protect us, which helps us feel more calm and at ease. Relaxation skills are like exercise! Imagine a friend of yours telling you that she is planning to train for a 10K race. Despite the fact that she has never run a race before and does not jog regularly, she tells you her training will consist singularly of practicing running the full 10 kilometers on the day before the race. What would you think about this?

We know that the body needs time to learn how to run for long distances and build strength. She would need to practice at least a few times per week for a number of weeks to be ready. Relaxation skills are developed just like exercise: in order to see significant results, we must use them regularly over long periods of time. This is not a one shot deal (medicine.umich.edu). Each person is different as we all relax in different ways:

  1. Find a relaxation exercise that you can practice daily or multiple times per week.
  2. Increase awareness of tension in your body and improve awareness of the difference between tension and relaxation – remember, your body can’t be tense and relaxed at the same time. Choose relaxed over tense. Let your shoulders drop down, away from your ears, unclench your jaw by doing a few facial exercises and breathe.
  3. Progressive muscle relaxation, yoga, mindfulness, and deep breathing.
  4. Adjust your lifestyle to make it less busy, hectic, and rushed.
  5. Take part in activities that give you pleasure, make you feel competent, or give you a chance to take a break from other, more stressful activities.

Try sniffing Lavender which has long since to relieve anxiety and evoke calmness.

Limit stimuli i.e. switch the tv off, perhaps close the curtains to reduce outside noise and distractions.

Try Mindfulness – there are a variety of exercises (not just breathing) you could try.

I know Mindfulness isn’t for everyone but many people benefit from it, myself included. So much so that I attended certificated courses and am now able to teach Mindfulness. I have to admit, I don’t practice it as much as I did in the beginning and my son reminds me to use these techniques more often.

See your GP. Some people avoid getting needed medical assistance because they fret that the GP will think they are silly or petty if they report anxiety. If anxiety regularly impacts your life, contact your doctor. Medication might be needed initially, but this doesn’t have to be long-term. Speak with your GP.

Panic attacks can be frightening and disorienting, especially the first time. Symptoms can be similar to those of other health conditions. Seek medical advice if:

  • a panic attack lasts longer than usual — most last between 5 and 20 minutes 
  • a panic attack is noticeably worse than usual
  • panic attacks are inhibiting your life, possibly by stopping you from engaging with others, socialising or working

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, is a talking therapy which is clinically proven to help treat a wide range of emotional difficulties. This form of therapy is centered on identifying and changing inaccurate or distorted thinking patterns, emotional responses, and behaviors. Speak to your GP and ask for a referral to a CBT practitioner. There’s often a lengthy wait so, in the meantime, you may want to try some of the other suggestions mentioned.

Anxiety and panic attacks are very real and they tend to get worse over time, particularly if you don’t do anything to alleviate the symptoms. You wouldn’t be able to drive a car without practice so please understand that you need to practice the techniques regularly.

You might find another post of mine “Strategies to help relieve your stress” helpful too. Click here.

Have you learnt anything you didn’t know previously? Have I missed anything?

Anxiety in men

An article by Madeline R. Vann, MPH caught my eye and I’d like to share some of it with you. Madeline wrote: “Anxiety disorder in men is real and treatable through therapy and medication.”

In her article, New Jersey-based freelance journalist Scott Neumyer, at 35, said he can look back and recognize signs of anxiety from as early as his childhood.

Irishtimes.com

But perhaps because men find anxiety easier to overlook than women do, he didn’t have to face his anxiety head-on until a crescendo event when he was 25. Neumyer was attending a Bruce Springsteen concert with a colleague when his first panic attack drove him into a bathroom. He can catalogue the many times after that first panic attack when anxiety symptoms made social and work relationships difficult, and when he began to fear going out in public.

Someone close to Neumyer had been through anxiety treatment so he knew that seeing a doctor was the first step. He tried anxiety medication and went through several types before settling on Zoloft (Sertraline). But he also knew that medication alone wasn’t going to solve the problem, so he sought out therapy.

“Cognitive behavioral therapy has been the most effective for me,” he says, adding that he also read as many books as he could about living with an anxiety disorder. “Along with the panic and anxiety usually comes some form of agoraphobia, a fear of doing certain things and going certain places.

featurepics.com

I personally got to the stage where I hated going to watch my sons swimming because of the seating – all those steps looking down over the pool? The same with the cinema, those dreaded stairs – and in the dark! I also disliked the tube stations in London and the further down I had to go, the more I panicked, so in the end I had to get taxis (if I couldn’t park at whichever venue).

My two (now adult ) sons have experienced anxiety and panic attacks in the past. They’re both black belts in Karate, they’re club swimmers and play football each week. My eldest is a Research fellow, currently working in the States, researching neuromuscular disorders and my the youngest is a Physiotherapist. So, although they both claim to be geeky in a science-type way, they’re not weedy or wussie; nor do they come across as lads who would have panic attacks. Some family and friends have been shocked, like “Wow, I didn’t think he would have mental health problems.” So, really what I’m saying guys is, it doesn’t mean you’re a weak person, anyone can experience anxiety; it doesn’t care where you’re from, what class you belong to or what job you do.

Here are some other anxiety statistics from No Panic in the UK

  • Mental health problems are one of the main causes of the overall disease burden worldwide.
  • Mental health and behavioural problems (e.g. depression, anxiety and drug use) are reported to be the primary drivers of disability worldwide, causing over 40 million years of disability in 20 to 29-year-olds.
  • Major depression is thought to be the second leading cause of disability worldwide and a major contributor to the burden of suicide and ischemic heart disease.

Most common problems

  • A UK survey published in 2016 showed that 5.9 in 100 people suffer with a generalised anxiety disorder
  • Mixed anxiety & depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain, with 7.8% of people meeting criteria for diagnosis.
  • 4-10% of people in England will experience depression in their lifetime.
  • Common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety are distributed according to a gradient of economic disadvantage across society. The poorer and more disadvantaged are disproportionately affected by common mental health problems and their adverse consequences.
  • Mixed anxiety and depression has been estimated to cause one fifth of days lost from work in Britain.
  • One adult in six had a common mental disorder.
  • In 2013, there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK.
  • In England women are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders as men.

Men and women

  • In England, women are more likely than men to have a common mental health problem and are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders.
  • In 2013, 6,233 suicides were recorded in the UK for people aged 15 and older. Of these, 78% were male and 22% were female.
  • 10% of mothers and 6% of fathers in the UK have mental health problems at any given time.
  • One in five (19.1%) women had CMD symptoms, compared with one in eight men (12.2%)
Counsellingondemand.com

Madeline quoted “Scientists still aren’t sure whether anxiety disorders are more common in women than men because of biological differences, such as estrogen and other hormones, or because women may express distress differently than men do”, says Mark Pollack, MD, psychiatrist and chairman of the department of psychiatry at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe, NHS. Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam, or having a medical test or job interview. During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal. But some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives.

The following information from the NHS is about a specific condition called generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). GAD is a long-term condition that causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event. People with GAD feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed. As soon as one anxious thought is resolved, another may appear about a different issue.

Symptoms of generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

GAD can cause both psychological (mental) and physical symptoms. These vary from person to person, but can include:

  • feeling restless or worried
  • having trouble concentrating or sleeping
  • dizziness or heart palpitations

Although feelings of anxiety at certain times are completely normal, see a GP if anxiety is affecting your daily life or causing you distress. Your GP will ask about your symptoms and your worries, fears and emotions to find out if you could have GAD.

What causes generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)?

The exact cause of GAD is not fully understood, although it’s likely that a combination of several factors plays a role. Research has suggested that these may include:

  • overactivity in areas of the brain involved in emotions and behaviour
  • an imbalance of the brain chemicals serotonin and noradrenaline, which are involved in the control and regulation of mood
  • the genes you inherit from your parents – you’re estimated to be 5 times more likely to develop GAD if you have a close relative with the condition
  • having a history of stressful or traumatic experiences, such as domestic violence, child abuse or bullying
  • having a painful long-term health condition, such as arthritis
  • having a history of drug or alcohol abuse
  • But many people develop GAD for no apparent reason.

Who is affected?

  • GAD is a common condition, estimated to affect up to 5% of the UK population.
  • Slightly more women are affected than men, and the condition is more common in people from the ages of 35 to 59.

How generalised anxiety disorder is treated

GAD can have a significant effect on your daily life, but several different treatments are available that can ease your symptoms. These include:

With treatment, many people are able to control their anxiety levels. But some treatments may need to be continued for a long time and there may be periods when your symptoms worsen.

Psychcentral.com

Self help for generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)

There are also many things you can do yourself to help reduce your anxiety, such as: 

  • going on a self-help course
  • exercising regularly
  • stopping smoking
  • cutting down on the amount of alcohol and caffeine you drink
  • trying 1 of the mental health apps and tools in the NHS Apps Library

chha-b.org