Mental Health

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Mental Health Awareness

Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried. While stress and anxious feelings are a common response to a situation where a person feels under pressure, it usually passes once the stressful situation has passed, or ‘stressor’ is removed.

Anxiety is when these anxious feelings don’t subside. Anxiety is when they are ongoing and exist without any particular reason or cause. It’s a serious condition that makes it hard for a person to cope with daily life. We all feel anxious from time to time, but for a person experiencing anxiety, these feelings cannot be easily controlled.

While we all feel sad, moody or low from time to time, some people experience these feelings intensely, for long periods of time (weeks, months or even years) and sometimes without any apparent reason. Depression is more than just a low mood – it’s a serious illness that has an impact on both physical and mental health.

These websites specifically support people with depression and anxiety:

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a particular set of reactions that can develop in people who have been through a traumatic event. That is, they have experienced or witnessed an event which threatened their life or safety, or that of others around them, and led to feelings of intense fear, helplessness or horror. This can be a car or other serious accident, physical or sexual assault, war or torture, or disasters such as bushfires or floods.

What are the signs and symptoms of PTSD?

People with PTSD often experience feelings of panic or extreme fear, similar to the fear they felt during the traumatic event. A person with PTSD experiences four main types of difficulties.

  • Re-living the traumatic event – The person relives the event through unwanted and recurring memories, often in the form of vivid images and nightmares. There may be intense emotional or physical reactions, such as sweating, heart palpitations or panic when reminded of the event.
  • Being overly alert or wound up – The person experiences sleeping difficulties, irritability and lack of concentration, becoming easily startled and constantly on the lookout for signs of danger.
  • Avoiding reminders of the event – The person deliberately avoids activities, places, people, thoughts or feelings associated with the event because they bring back painful memories.
  • Feeling emotionally numb – The person loses interest in day-to-day activities, feels cut off and detached from friends and family, or feels emotionally flat and numb.

For more information about PTSD, visit the beyondblue website.

Did you know Kids Help Line has an online chat service for teens? Check it out:

For helpful information about depression and anxiety:

Got a tricky question but not sure who to ask? Try:

Article by Dr Sonya Bruner, PsyD

Did you know Kids Help Line has an online chat service and other fun stuff? Check it out:

Father, Psychologist and author Steve Biddulph has some interesting insights:

This app, designed by one of our Child Psychologists, Julie Henry in collaboration with Child Psychologist Liza Kokkoris , can be used by psychologists:

Dr Kaylene Henderson is a mother and Child Psychiatrist with a helpful website:

Helpful information to support the young people in your life:

Information for parents about bullying:

Parentline in NSW:

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) is a form of psychotherapy that was originally developed by Marsha M. Linehan, a psychology researcher at the University of Washington, to treat people with borderline personality disorder (BPD). DBT combines standard cognitive-behavioural techniques for emotion regulation and reality-testing with concepts of distress tolerance, acceptance, and mindful awareness largely derived from Buddhist meditative practice. DBT may be the first therapy that has been experimentally demonstrated to be generally effective in treating BPD. Research indicates that DBT is also effective in treating patients who present varied symptoms and behaviours associated with spectrum mood disorders, including self-injury. Recent work suggests its effectiveness with sexual abuse survivors] and chemical dependency.

More information:

Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (ISTDP) is a form of short-term psychotherapy developed through empirical, video-recorded research by Habib Davanloo, MD.

ISTDP’s primary goal is to help the patient overcome internal resistance to experiencing true feelings about the present and past which have been warded off because they are either too frightening or too painful. The technique is intensive in that it aims to help the patient experience these warded-off feelings to the maximum degree possible; it is short-term in that it tries to achieve this experience as quickly as possible; it is dynamic because it involves working with unconscious forces and transference feelings.

Patients come to therapy because of either symptoms or interpersonal difficulties. Symptoms include traditional psychological problems like anxiety and depression, but they also include medically unexplained symptoms such as headache, shortness of breath, diarrhea, or sudden weakness. “Medically unexplained” in this instance means symptoms occur without any medically identifiable cause. These are theorized, within the ISTDP model, to occur in distressing situations where painful or forbidden emotions are triggered outside of awareness. Within psychiatry, these phenomena are classified as “Somatoform Disorders” in DSM-IV-TR.

The therapy itself was developed during the 1960s to 1990s by Dr. Habib Davanloo, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst from Montreal who grew frustrated with the length and limited efficacy of psychoanalysis. He video recorded patient sessions and watched the recordings in minute detail to determine as precisely as possible what sorts of interventions were most effective in overcoming resistance, which acts to keep painful or frightening feelings out of awareness and prevent interpersonal closeness.

More information:

Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT) is a time-limited treatment that encourages the patient to regain control of mood and functioning typically lasting 12–16 weeks. IPT is based on the common factors of psychotherapy: a “treatment alliance in which the therapist empathically engages the patient, helps the patient to feel understood, arouses affect, presents a clear rationale and treatment ritual, and yields success experiences.”. Interpersonal Psychotherapy of Depression was developed in the New Haven-Boston Collaborative Depression Research Project by Gerald Klerman, MD, Myrna Weissman, PhD, and their colleagues for the treatment of ambulatory depressed, nonpsychotic, nonbipolar patients.

More information:

Schema Therapy was founded by Jeffrey Young who noticed that many of the clients he saw with more long-term, complex problems were not responding to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.  Schema Therapy has a strong focus on experiential and emotional strategies; utilising approaches from other therapies such as Gestalt therapy and psychoanalytic approaches. Schema therapy is based on a belief that clients have been unable to effectively get their emotional needs met due to developing unhelpful patterns of thinking and seeing the world (maladaptive schemas).  The schema therapist therefore takes an approach known as ‘limited reparenting’ which involves using the relationship with the therapist as a means to teach the client skills to better regulate their emotions and getting their needs met in their life and relationships.

More information:

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a relatively short term, focused approach to the treatment of many types of emotional, behavioural and psychiatric problems. The application of CBT varies according to the problem being addressed, but is essentially a collaborative and individualised program that helps individuals to identify unhelpful thoughts and behaviours and learn or relearn healthier skills and habits. CBT has been practised widely for more than 30 years. It has been research extensively, and has demonstrated effectiveness with a variety of emotional psychological and psychiatric difficulties.

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that helps people to change unhelpful or unhealthy thinking habits, feelings and behaviours. CBT may be used to treat problems including anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, anger, substance abuse, eating disorders and other problems. CBT involves the use of practical self-help strategies, which are designed to bring about positive and immediate changes in the person’s quality of life.

The benefits of CBT

  1. CBT has been extensively investigated in rigorous clinical trials and has empirical support.
  2. CBT is structured; goal oriented, and focuses on immediate difficulties as well as long term strategies and requires active involvement by the client.
  3. CBT is flexible, individualised, and can be adapted to a wide range of individuals and a variety of settings.

Further information about CBT

  • Panic disorder is the term used to describe when panic attacks are recurrent and disabling. Panic disorder can be characterised by:

    • The presence of recurring and unexpected (‘out of the blue’) panic attacks.
    • Worrying for at least a month after having a panic attack that you will have another one.
    • Worrying about the implications or consequences of a panic attack (such as thinking that the panic attack is a sign of an undiagnosed medical problem). For example, some people have repeated medical tests due to these worries and, despite reassurance, still have fears of being unwell.
    • Significant changes in behaviour that relate to the panic attacks (such as avoiding activities like exercise because it increases the heart rate).

    During a panic attack, an individual is suddenly overwhelmed by the physical sensations described above. Panic attacks reach a peak within about 10 minutes and usually last for up to half an hour, leaving the person feeling tired or exhausted. They can occur several times a day or may happen only once every few years. They can even occur while people are asleep, waking them up during the attack. Many people experience a panic attack once or twice in their lives; this is common and is not panic disorder.

    For more information about panic disorder, visit the beyondblue website.