When to see your GP
You should see your GP if:
- you've been feeling depressed for more than a few weeks
- you have anxiety is affecting your daily life/preventing you doing things
- you recognise that you have the symptoms of a mental health condition
- you are having problems coping
There are also lots of services near you that offer help and support on a range of issues that can affect mental health.
Lifeline is a crisis response helpline available to everyone in Northern Ireland. If you or someone you know is in distress or despair, contact Lifeline on:
- phone: 0808 808 8000
This is a confidential service, where trained counsellors will listen and offer immediate help over the telephone. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Conditions that can affect mental health
Mental health problems range from worries you experience as part of daily life to serious conditions.
If you are worried or concerned about a mental health problem, there is information below on a number of mental health conditions. There is also a link if you want to read more about a condition.
Don't use the information to diagnose yourself with a condition. Always leave that to a health professional.
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, worry or fear. Everyone feels anxious at some point in their life, but for some people it can be an on-going problem. Anxiety can have both psychological and physical symptoms.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) describes behavioural symptoms which affect about two to five per cent of school-age children. ADHD affects boys more often than girls.
Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is a condition that affects your moods. Your moods can swing from one extreme to another, for example, there are spells of both deep depression and excessively high mood (mania).
Body dysmorphic disorder
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance. These flaws are often not noticed by others. You should visit your GP if you think you might have BDD.
Borderline personality disorder
Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a disorder of mood and how a person interacts with others. It's the most commonly recognised personality disorder. Generally, someone with a personality disorder will differ significantly from an average person in terms of how they think, perceive, feel or relate to others.
Depression is more than simply feeling unhappy or fed up, it is a serious mood disorder. It can be life-threatening. With the right treatment and support, most people with depression can make a full recovery. See your GP if you think you may be depressed.
Dissociative disorders are a range of conditions that can cause physical and psychological problems. Some dissociative disorders are very short-lived, perhaps following a traumatic life event, and resolve on their own over a matter of weeks or months. Others can last much longer.
Eating disorders can affect men and women. People with an eating disorder worry about what they eat. Food can control their life and stop them making decisions about what they eat and how much they eat. You can get help for an eating disorder from your doctor and specialist services.
Hallucinations are where someone sees, hears, smells, tastes or feels things that don't exist outside their mind. See your GP straight away if you're experiencing hallucinations and you're worried about them.
Health anxiety (sometimes called hypochondria) is when you spend so much time worrying you're ill, or about getting ill, that it starts to take over your life. You should see your GP if your worries about your health are preventing you leading a normal life and self-help isn't working.
A hoarding disorder is where someone acquires an excessive number of items and stores them in a chaotic manner. If you think a family member or someone you know has a hoarding disorder, try to persuade them to come with you to see their GP and seek help.
Munchausen's syndrome is a psychological disorder where someone pretends to be ill or deliberately produces symptoms of illness in themselves. Their main intention is to assume the ’sick role’ to have people care for them and be the centre of attention.
Obsessive compulsive disorder
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common mental health condition. A person with the condition has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. OCD can be distressing and significantly interfere with a person’s life, but treatment can help keep it under control.
A person with a personality disorder thinks, feels, behaves or relates to others very differently from the average person. There are several different types of personality disorder. Read more about the different types of personality disorder.
Postpartum psychosis is a rare but serious mental health illness that can affect a woman soon after she has a baby. Postpartum psychosis should be treated as a medical emergency. If not treated immediately, the condition can become worse very quickly.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder. It’s caused by frightening or distressing events. It's normal to experience upsetting thoughts after a traumatic event. Visit your GP if you or your child are still having problems about four weeks after the event, particularly if you have symptoms of PTSD.
Psychosis is a mental health problem. It causes people to think or interpret things differently from other people, in a way that’s harmful to their health and wellbeing. See your GP immediately if you're experiencing symptoms of psychosis. If you're concerned about someone you know, contact their GP.
Schizophrenia is a severe long-term mental health condition. It changes how a person thinks and behaves. If you're experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia, see your GP as soon as possible. If you're concerned about someone you know, you could contact their GP.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. It is sometimes known as winter depression because the symptoms are more clear and tend to be more severe during winter. You should see your GP if you are affected by SAD and are struggling to cope.
Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is a long-lasting and intense fear of social situations. It's a common problem that usually begins during the teenage years. For some people it gets better as they get older, although for many it doesn't go away on its own.
Trichotillomania, also known as ‘trich’, is when someone can't resist the urge to pull out their hair. They may pull out hair on their head or other places, like their eyebrows or eyelashes.
It's more common in teenagers and young adults and tends to affect girls more than boys. See your GP if you're pulling your hair out or if you notice that your child is.
Recognising potential warning signs
There are some early warning signs that may suggest mental ill-health or a mental health problem. These include:
- mood swings or a consistently lower mood
- lack of care for personal appearance or personal responsibilities
- increased use of alcohol or other drugs
- talking about not wanting to live
- a loss of interest in doing things they previously enjoyed
- withdrawing from social activities or spending less time with family and friends
- disturbed sleep, perhaps not getting enough sleep or sleeping too much
- eating less than normal or overeating, perhaps losing or gaining weight
- being more irritable, over-sensitive or aggressive
- having difficulty following a conversation, remembering things or concentrating
- experiencing recurrent physical symptoms such as aches and pains or unexplained illnesses
- a drop in work performance
- doing things that don’t make sense to others
- hearing or seeing things that no-one else can hear or see
Someone who’s having suicidal thoughts may not ask for help, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want help and support.
You can find out more about what to do if you think someone might be in need of immediate help on the Mental health emergency - if you're in crisis or despair page.
Mental health services in your area
The health and social care trusts provide a range of mental health services in the community, at home and in hospitals. There is also a range mental health organisations that can offer help and support.