Common Mental Health Issues

From the common cold to the flu. To diabetes physical illnesses in range in severity and symptoms. Likewise, mental health issues range from mild to serious and short to long term. Regardless of the type, mental health issues affect all Canadians either directly or indirectly. Approximately, 20% of Canadians will experience a mental illness at some point in their life, and the remaining 80% will be affected indirectly by a mental illness in their family members, friends, or co-workers. (Health Canada 2002)

While there are many types of mental health issues, four of the most common are described below –

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety can be a normal reaction to a stressful situation but for some people, its an unmanageable problem. Anxiety disorders are the most common health issue affecting 1 in 10 Canadians (Mood Disorders Society Of Canada, 2009)

Anxiety disorders can be further broken down into different types (e.g Phobias, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder) Phobias (i.e an intense and persistent fear of a situation, activity, thing, animal or person) and obsessive compulsive disorders are the most commonly reported anxiety disorders.

Symptoms of anxiety disorders include nausea, trembling muscle, tension and headache. Specific to phobias many people avoid the situation or thing they fear, often limiting their ability to live a “normal life”. Exposure to the phobia causes extreme anxiety and panic (e.g heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, a fear of dying.

Anxiety Vs Anxiety Disorder 

Feeling  nervous or anxious before a big test or interview is normal. On the other hand, anxiety disorder produces a reaction of fear or distress that is out  of proportion to the situation (e.g feeling as though your life is in danger at the grocery store.) These thoughts and feelings can last for a prolonged period of time and usually affects your behaviour, emotions, physical health, and social involvement of a person.

Obsessive Compulsive disorder (OCD)

OCD is an anxiety disorder that affects approximately 1.8% of Canadian adults (Mood disorder Society of Canada, 2009)

Obsessions are persistent thoughts or impulses that cause anxiety in a person. To deal with the anxiety  the person often performs repetitive behaviour compulsion. Common obsession includes fears of contamination, repeated doubts, focus on order, and fear of hurting yourself or others. Common compulsions include excessive cleaning, repeated checking (e.g that doors are locked, applicants turned off, boarding and mental rituals such as counting and praying.)

When is it OCD?

When the obsession and compulsion interfere with a person’s life (i.e they take up more than one hour or cause significant distress in the person its classified as OCD.