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World Mental Health Day is hosted by the World Federation of Mental Health and occurs on 10 October each year, with the aim to increase awareness of mental health problems so that those who suffer can live with dignity and can access the help and support they need.

Even in 2018, mental health is a taboo subject, with many people who suffer from poor mental health choosing not to seek help, being professional or from a relative or friend, possibly due to embarrassment or feelings of inadequacy. To combat this, we strive to educate and inform about what mental health is, so that we can reduce the stigma surrounding it.

Statistically, 4 in 10 adults and 1 in 10 children are found to have a mental health problem in any year, with only a quarter receiving help. This means three quarters have to cope with their mental health issues by themselves, which can mean that they find sustaining relationships, going to work, and everyday general life very difficult.

Mental health problems can occur in a variety of forms and include depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety or panic disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Depression is defined by a constant low mood and anhedonia (a lack of interest in things you previously found enjoyable), and can also include a change in appetite and sleep pattern. Depression is usually treated with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or pharmacotherapy to increase the level of serotonin (a chemical associated with maintaining a positive mood) in the brain.

People with ADHD find it difficult to remain focused on tasks, as well as also having irrational and impulsive behaviour. This is usually diagnosed during childhood, but can also occur in    adults and can be treated with CBT or by taking drugs to increase dopamine (a chemical which communicated feelings of pleasure and enhances motivation) in the brain.

Anxiety/panic disorder is defined by the constant sense of impending doom accompanied by intermittent but repeated attacks of intense fear. Again, this can be treated by CBT but also by drugs to increase serotonin levels, as well as epilepsy drugs (e.g. Pregablin and Benzodiazepines).

Continuous cycling between manic and depressive states is characteristic of bipolar disorder. Manic phases consist of moments of extreme activity and heightened emotion, whilst depressive states include lethargy and sadness. Treatment for bipolar disorder usually consists of a variety of drugs used to stabilise mood shifts, including anticonvulsants and lithium carbonate. Bipolar disorder can also be managed using CBT.

Schizophrenia includes negative and positive symptoms. Negative symptoms include a lack of energy and emotion, whilst positive symptoms include the addition of audio or visual hallucinations. Although positive symptoms can usually be managed by antipsychotics such as Clozapine, research into the treatment of negative symptoms is still ongoing.

For help and support regarding this topic, please visit www.samaritans.org.uk or www.rethink.org.

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