Common Mental Health Problems

One in four people in Northern Ireland present with common mental health problems. These figures are based on those who actually present themselves for treatment. In reality the actual number is difficult to estimate and it is likely to be much higher.


Panic is characterised by a range of physical symptoms such as heart pounding, difficulty breathing, nausea or feeling as though you are going to faint.

These symptoms are usually accompanied by frightening thoughts such as ‘I am going to have a heart attack’, ‘I am losing control’ or ‘I am going to make a complete fool of myself. Quite often people cope with panic by avoiding situations where they feel it could occur, which leads to further problems.


In general, people with OCD experience Obsessions. These are thoughts, images or impulses that are usually unpleasant and come into our mind when we don’t want them. Compulsions are the behaviours performed in order to ‘put right’ the obsessional thought. These behaviours can include checking, counting, and repeating behaviours such as hand washing.


Depression is characterised by low mood and is accompanied by other symptoms which may include poor motivation, loss of interest, poor self image, fatigue, poor sleep and appetite. When you are depressed it is common to feel helpless and alone, and to feel negative about yourself, the world and the future.

Social Anxiety

People who suffer from social anxiety often believe that others will think badly of them or judge them negatively. They tend to think they are being closely observed by others and fear they are not as good as other people. This often leads to anxiety symptoms and subsequent avoidance of these social situations.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

If you have suffered a traumatic event such as being involved in a fire, accident, robbery, attack or witnessing a traumatic event, you may experience a range of reactions including

  • Re-experiencing the trauma in your mind
  • Avoiding things associated with or related to the trauma
  • Feel tense, irritable or over alert than usual

These reactions can make you feel not in control, unable to cope and low in mood.

Generalised Worry

Worry is often experienced as a chain of negative thoughts, images and doubts about things that might happen in the future. People who worry tend to be more concerned by ‘what’s around the corner’ rather than what is happening in the here and now. As a result people can get caught up in whirlwind of worry about things that ‘ might’ happen eventhough they are often highly unlikely to happen.

Low Self-Esteem

A person with low self-esteem will have generally negative beliefs and opinions about themselves. Their thoughts about themselves are often unkind and critical, leading to other problems including relationship difficulties, low mood and anxiety.