Mental Illness


Suicidal thoughts are often the result of depression and despair.Suicidal thoughts are not uncommon amongst people with a mental illness whether it be diagnosed or not. If you are considering suicide then you are no doubt feeling desperate and that the situation is hopeless. But if you are reading this page, then perhaps you are looking for someone to talk to as believe it or not, there are always options.

If you have suicidal thoughts, why not talk to someone fully trained in helping you through this situation. You can contact the following:-

Lifeline 13 11 14 (Calls from mobiles are free says this news item)

Suicide Line 1300 651 251

Are You Concerned About Someone Attempting Suicide?

Suicidal thinking and the threat of suicide should always be taken very seriously. If you have contact with someone talking about attempting suicide, ring one of the above numbers immediately for guidance on how to deal with the issue.

A couple of things to bear in mind is that the person for whom you have concern should not be left alone. If they are consuming alcohol or drugs, try to limit the intake. Encourage the person to talk and make sure you don't invalidate their feelings. Their feelings are very real to them irrespective of what you may think. Get help as soon as possible and if necessary, don't hesitate to call 000.


Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness
Photo by Amarand Agasi on Flickr

Schizophrenia is possibly one of the most misunderstood mental illnesses by the general public. People often think of this mental illness as split personality, whereas this is not the truth. Such perceptions are totally mythical.

Schizophrenia most commonly develops in the 18 to 25 year old age bracket with its actual cause being unknown.  Common symptoms are are delusions where a person believes something despite all evidence to the contrary. They may believe they are a different person and behave as they would see this person behaving. It is also common for people with schizophrenia to hear voices that nobody else can hear. These voices may well instruct them to behave in certain manners as well. This symptom is often referred to as hallucinations and in addition to hearing voices, a person experiencing such things may also see, taste or even feel things which aren't really happening although they will be completely real to the person involved.

When these types of experiences occur, it is known as a psychotic episode and requires immediate treatment.

Like other mental illnesses, schizophrenia can be treated and people afflicted with this mental illness can live reasonably normal lives given appropriate management and medication.

For more information about Schizophrenia, visit the following links:-

Sane Australia

Schizophrenia Research Institute

Bipolar Disorder or Manic Depression

Bipolar Disorder of Manic Depression
Picture by SherriW1223 Flickr

Whilst many people are becoming more familiar with the term bipolar disorder, many may know it by its old name of manic depression.

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that touches on the extremes of the emotions and in turn can result in some strange behaviour by those who have this disorder.

It is quite normal, as you would well know, that our emotions rise and fall. We can feel sad, we can feel elated, we can feel inbetween. For the bipolar person, the emotions tend to rise and fall well beyond the range of the “normal” person. So people with bipolar can fluctuate between the extremities of elation, known as mania or hypermania and the other side of the coin which is depression.

Bipolar can be difficult to diagnose as people don't usually present themselves for medical assistance in the height of a manic phase. They are generally feeling too good, at least with hypermania anyway. People in a full blown manic phase will obviously be unwell to others around them and intervention is usually sought.

But for the most part, the bipolar person presents at the doctors with a bout of depression. The way our medical system is these days and the pressure on doctors, depression is what is usually diagnosed and appropriate anti-depressants prescibed. The anti-depressants usually fix the depression, but the individual then swings to a high.  This can go on for quite some time until specialist psychiatric services are sought who do a full assessment and diagnose bipolar disorder. When this happens, the anti-depressants are usually stopped and mood stabilizers are introduced in their place in an attempt to limit the extremes of the emotions and bring them back within acceptable ranges.

Bipolar disorder involves mood swings
Picture by AdamNF on Flickr

Bipolar disorder is a complex subject and all people tend to present differently. Whilst there are many symptoms, not all will necessarily apply to each individual. This can be why it can be difficult to diagnose. That said, psychiatrists are skilled at doing so and if you are being treated for depression and it's coming and going with periods of highs inbetween, then perhaps you need to consider asking for a referral to see a psychiatrist.

For more information on Bipolar Disorder you can visit the sites below. The links will take you directly to their pages on Bipolar Disorder.

Black Dog Institute Bipolar Page

Sane Australia Bipolar Information Sheet

Beyond Blue Bipolar Information

Fyrenice - An Extensive Australian Site including support compiled and run and participated in by people with bipolar disorder

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety can manifest itself in many formsAnxiety is a very common mental illness. It can strike for no reason whatsoever and generally gets worse if not treated. One of the features of anxiety is that it generally starts off in a non threatening manner and gradually gets worse. Because of this, many people don't realize that they are having problems until the anxiety gets quite serious and is noted by others. The person who has the anxiety will often try to cover it up.

Anxiety comes in many forms. Often it isn't recognized because it is in many ways a part of our human nature. We all have the "fight or flight" warnings built into us and it is natural to have fears. In many ways they keep us safe from dangerous situations. It is when this fear becomes too frequent or irrational that help is most definitely needed to overcome the situation.

The most common form of anxiety is a generalized anxiety disorder that is not the result of any one particular object or situation. This can become worse when panic also results from situations and people can be terrified for no rational reason. They can shake and tremble and hyperventilate. Obviously treatment is necessary and over time the condition can be managed if handled correctly.

panic1Phobias are also regarded as anxiety disorders. People have many fears which can often include flying, spiders and heights. Some people also have a fear of leaving their home or interacting with other people. Phobias can be reasonably harmless until such time as they have a damaging impact on a person's life. In such cases, the phobias require treatment so that they either become manageable or overcome.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Post Truamatic Stress Disorder and Separation Anxiety are other disorders which all come under the banner of Anxiety Disorders generally. Treatment is available for all anxiety disorders.

For more information on anxiety disorders you can visit the following links:-

Anxiety Online Australia

Beyond Blue Anxiety Information

Anxiety Disorder Association of Victoria


Depression According to Beyond Blue, the National Depression Initiative, Depression is the most common of all mental illnesses and affects one in five Australians.

Depression as a concept is not all that uncommon these days thank goodness. This has been largely due to media coverage in news items, television shows about the illness and many high profile people who have come out declaring that they have the illness.

But exactly what is depression? How can we define it for someone who may actually be experiencing it for the first time?

First of all, we should recognize that life is not a complete bed of roses. Everyone of us has emotional ups and downs that impact upon how we feel. Depression is the “downer” part of our feelings but not until certain criteria are fulfilled. Up until that stage, the term sad is more appropriate.

So what is depression? Well depression can best be summed up as prolonged periods of sadness, but of a deeper variety. Some people describe depression as being void of all feelings, of feeling nothing at all. Many symptoms can present themselves such as constant lethargy, ignoring personal hygiene, loss of interest in hobbies and other activities previously enjoyed, lack of motivation and an uncaring attitude to loved ones and friends.

This is not to say that all these symptoms need to be present, but if you recognize a few, then perhaps it's time to talk to an experienced professional about your state of mind.

Types of Depression

Depression doesn't necessarily come in the plain vanilla variety. There are several different types, often caused by different reasons. We shall try and cover some of them here.

1. Circumstantial Depression
Circumstantial depression is probably the most common form of the illness. It can strike anyone at any time, but it is the circumstances in which people find themselves that brings on the illness.  It is quite normal to feel sad or depressed when you lose a loved one, your job or perhaps your business is threatened with financial hardship. Often the stress of these events can be overwhelming and depression can set in.

The good news is that this type of depression is completely treatable and will pass with both time and a resolution to the circumstances that you find yourself in.

2. Post Natal & Ante Natal Depression
Adjusting to life as a mother can be difficult for some women. It can involve a lot of stress. These depressive episodes are reasonably common in women and not to be ignored. In particular, post natal depression can have severe impacts on the care of the newborn child as well as the mother. Partners and family should be on the lookout for signs of such depression and assist in getting the mother to take action.

For more information on Post Natal & Ante Natal Depression you can visit the Beyond Blue website information on Post Natal and Ante Natal Depression or the Post and Ante Natal Depression Association (PANDA).

3. Chronic Depression
Chronic Depression is the worst form of depression because people who have this form have it for life. The most important thing in these cases is good management. Usually this involved medication and perhaps psychological intervention also to help the patient manage the illness. Most importantly though, you cannot do it by yourself. Help is needed to effectively generate improvement in your health and help you to live a relatively normal lifestyle.

Further Information On Depression

Following are some links where you can get further information about depression.  Remember though that reading about it is important, but doing something about it is even more important.

Black Dog Institute

Beyond Blue

Sane Australia

Post & Ante Natal Depression Association

Member Organisations

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