Our team of therapists will work with you to understand the mental health issues you are experiencing so that they can help you find better ways to manage your wellbeing going forward. During your initial assessment with us, you can tell us more about what has prompted you to contact us for support and our therapists will discuss with you the best type of treatment.
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life. For example, you may feel worried and anxious about sitting an exam, or having a medical test or job interview. During times like these, feeling anxious can be perfectly normal. But some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a long-term condition that causes people to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event. People with GAD feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed. As soon as one anxious thought is resolved, another may appear about a different issue.
For more information visit the NHS generalised anxiety disorder page
Most people feel low sometimes but if it’s affecting your life, there are things you can try that may help. Our talking therapies can help if you are finding it hard to cope with low mood, sadness or depression.
The psychological symptoms of depression include:
- continuous low mood or sadness
- feeling hopeless and helpless
- having low self-esteem
- feeling tearful
- feeling guilt-ridden
- feeling irritable and intolerant of others
- having no motivation or interest in things
- finding it difficult to make decisions
- not getting any enjoyment out of life
- feeling anxious
- having suicidal thoughts or harming yourself
The physical symptoms of depression include:
- moving or speaking more slowly than usual
- changes in appetite or weight (usually decreased, but sometimes increased)
- unexplained aches and pains
- lack of energy
- low sex drive
- disturbed sleep – for example, finding it difficult to fall asleep at night or waking up very early in the morning
During a panic attack, you get a rush of intense mental and physical symptoms. A panic attack can come on very quickly and for no apparent reason and can be very frightening and distressing.
- Symptoms include:
- a racing heartbeat
- feeling faint
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
- shaky limbs
- dry mouth
- a need to go to the toilet
- feeling like you're not connected to your body
Most panic attacks last between 5 and 20 minutes. Some have been reported to last up to an hour. The number of attacks you have will depend on how severe your condition is. Some people have attacks once or twice a month, while others have them several times a week.
Although panic attacks are frightening, they're not dangerous. An attack will not cause you any physical harm and it's unlikely you'll be admitted to the hospital if you have one. Treatment aims to reduce the number of panic attacks you have and ease your symptoms. Talking therapies and medicine are the main treatments for panic disorder.
Phobia is an overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal.
Phobias are more pronounced than fears. They develop when a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about a situation or object.
If a phobia becomes very severe, a person may organise their life around avoiding the thing that's causing their anxiety. As well as restricting their day-to-day life, the phobia can also cause a lot of distress.
A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder, you may not experience any symptoms until you come into contact with the source of your phobia. But in some cases, even thinking about the source of a phobia can make a person feel anxious or panicky. This is known as anticipatory anxiety.
Symptoms may include:
- unsteadiness, dizziness and lightheadedness
- increased heart rate
- shortness of breath
- trembling or shaking
- an upset stomach
Specific or simple phobias centre around a particular object, animal, situation or activity. Common examples of simple phobias include:
- animal phobias – such as dogs, spiders, snakes or rodents
- environmental phobias – such as heights, deep water and germs
- situational phobias – such as visiting the dentist or flying
- bodily phobias – such as blood, vomit or having injections
Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is a long-term and overwhelming fear of social situations.
It's a common problem that usually starts during the teenage years. It can be very distressing and have a big impact on your life.
For some people, it gets better as they get older. But for many people, it does not go away on its own without treatment.
Symptoms of social anxiety
Social anxiety is more than shyness. It's a fear that does not go away and affects everyday activities, self-confidence, relationships and work or school life. Many people occasionally worry about social situations, but someone with social anxiety feels overly worried before, during and after them.
You may have social anxiety if you:
- worry about everyday activities, such as meeting strangers, starting conversations, speaking on the phone, working or shopping
- avoid or worry a lot about social activities, such as group conversations, eating in the company of others and going to parties
- always worry about doing something you think is embarrassing, such as blushing, sweating or appearing incompetent
- find it difficult to do things when others are watching: you may feel like you're being watched and judged all the time
- have a fear of being criticised, avoid eye contact with others or have low self-esteem
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common mental health condition where a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. OCD can be distressing and significantly interfere with your life, but treatment can help you keep it under control.
Symptoms of OCD:
If you have OCD, you'll usually experience frequent obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours:
- An obsession is an unwanted and unpleasant thought, image or urge that repeatedly enters your mind, causing feelings of anxiety, disgust or unease.
- A compulsion is a repetitive behaviour or mental act that you feel you need to do to temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought.
For example, someone with an obsessive fear of being burgled may feel they need to check that all the windows and doors are locked several times before they can leave their house.
Women can sometimes have OCD during pregnancy or after their baby is born. Obsessions may include worrying about harming the baby or not sterilising feeding bottles properly. Compulsions could be things such as repeatedly checking the baby is breathing.
Self esteem is the opinion we have of ourselves.
When we have healthy self-esteem, we tend to feel positive about ourselves and about life in general. It makes us better able to deal with life's ups and downs.
When our self esteem is low, we tend to see ourselves and our life in a more negative and critical light. We also feel less able to take on the challenges that life throws at us.
How low self esteem develops
Low self esteem often begins in childhood. Our teachers, friends, siblings, parents, and even the media send us positive and negative messages about ourselves. Some reasons you might experience low self esteem:
- For some reason, the message that you are not good enough is the one that stays with you.
- Perhaps you have found it difficult to live up to other people's expectations of yourself or your own expectations.
- Stress and difficult life events, such as serious illness or a bereavement can have a negative effect on our self-esteem.
- Personality can also play a part: some people are more prone to negative thinking.
Symptoms of low self esteem
- If you have low self esteem or confidence, you may hide away from social situations, stop trying new things, and avoid things you find challenging.
- In the short term, avoiding challenging and difficult situations might make you feel safe. But in the longer term, this can backfire because it reinforces your underlying doubts and fears. It teaches you that the only way to cope is to avoid situations.
- You might have low confidence now because of what happened to you while you were growing up but we can grow and develop new ways of seeing ourselves at any age.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by very stressful, frightening or distressing events. A person with PTSD often relives the traumatic event through nightmares and flashbacks, and may experience feelings of isolation, irritability and guilt. They may also have problems sleeping, such as insomnia, and find concentrating difficult. These symptoms are often severe and persistent enough to have a significant impact on the person's day-to-day life.
Any situation that a person finds traumatic can cause PTSD. These can include:
- serious road accidents
- violent personal assaults, such as sexual assault, mugging or robbery
- serious health problems
- childbirth experiences
PTSD is estimated to affect about one in every three people who have a traumatic experience but it's not clear exactly why some people develop the condition and others do not. It's normal to experience upsetting and confusing thoughts after a traumatic event and many people improve naturally over a few weeks.
People who repeatedly experience traumatic situations, such as severe neglect, abuse or violence, may be diagnosed with complex PTSD.
PTSD can be successfully treated, even when it develops many years after a traumatic event. Trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) is offered by Mind Matters and suitable for treating trauma and PTSD related to a single event.
Health anxiety (sometimes called hypochondria) is when you spend so much time either worrying that you are ill or that you are going to become ill, that it starts to take over your life.
You may have health anxiety if you:
- constantly worry about your health
- frequently check your body for signs of illness, such as lumps, tingling or pain
- are always asking people for reassurance that you're not ill
- worry that a doctor or medical tests may have missed something
- obsessively look at health information on the internet or in the media
- avoid anything to do with serious illness, such as medical TV programmes
- act as if you were ill (for example, avoiding physical activities)
Anxiety about health can on its own cause symptoms like headaches or a racing heartbeat, and you may mistake these for signs of illness.
Living with long term physical health conditions can be stressful, frightening and challenging to manage. This can have an impact on your mental health and also affect how well you manage your physical health condition.
Our talking therapies can help you manage the impact of your condition on your mental health which can, in turn, help you better manage your physical health.
For more information about long term physical health conditions click here.
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 unnoticeable to others.
People of any age can have BDD but it's most common in teenagers and young adults. It affects both men and women. Having BDD does not mean you're vain or self-obsessed. It can be very upsetting and have a big impact on your life.
You might have BDD if you:
- worry a lot about a specific area of your body (particularly your face)
- spend a lot of time comparing your looks with other people's
- look at yourself in mirrors alot or avoid mirrors altogether
- go to alot of effort to conceal flaws, for example, by spending a long time combing your hair, applying make-up or choosing clothes
- pick at your skin to make it "smooth"
BDD can seriously affect your daily life, including your work, social life and relationships.
Going through a difficult period or transition in your life such as coping with a bereavement or the loss of a job, can impact your mental health. Our talking therapies can provide you with the tools you need to understand and manage your thoughts and feelings so you can feel well again.
Most people feel stressed sometimes and some people find stress helpful or even motivating but if stress is affecting your mental wellbeing and quality of life, there are things that you can try that may help.
Mind Matters Surrey can offer you support to help you manage the stress in your life.