What is mental health?

Mental health is defined as a “state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realise their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community.” This is the official definition given by the World Health Organization (WHO). Common conditions include depression, anxiety, panic disorders, fear, guilt and grief.

What is depression and anxiety?

Depression is a word that we hear a lot today, but it is a common mental health condition that causes people to experience depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration.

Anxiety is an emotion characterised by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. People with anxiety disorders may avoid certain situations out of worry, and experience physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat.

Am I depressed or just feeling low?

Often it may be helpful to differentiate if you’re just feeling low, or if your emotions need more serious, medical help. Here are some general guidelines:

To be clinically diagnosed with depression, you have to have symptoms of persistent sadness and numbness for two weeks. Symptoms include negative thinking patterns, loss of appetite, insomnia, fatigue, lack of motivation and suicidal thoughts.

To be clinically diagnosed with anxiety, symptoms have to persist for more than six months.
These include nervousness, constant worry, heart palpitations, tension, excessive sweating, and in some cases panic attacks with chest pains and shortness of breath.
It’s also common for the two conditions to co-exist, so if you have the above symptoms for prolonged periods, then perhaps it is time to seek professional help.