Several studies indicate that anxiety disorders are very prevalent amongst individual of all ages. Anxiety is a chronic uneasiness or apprehension that persists without any direct threat to the individual. The disorder is diagnosed when the anxiety becomes so severe that impacts negatively on an individual’s normal functioning. Anxiety affects a person’s whole being as it is a physiological, behavioural and psychological reaction all at once.
On the physiological level anxiety may include bodily reactions such as rapid heartbeat, muscular tension, queasiness, dizziness, dry mouth and/or sweating. On the behavioural level, it can impact negatively on your ability to act, express yourself, work, attend school, focus, and attend to and complete tasks. Psychologically, anxiety can be experienced as a subjective state of fear, uneasiness and/or apprehension.
In more severe states, it can cause you to feel detached from yourself and even fearful of dying or going crazy.
Mood disorders are common across all age groups, cultures and societies. Individuals suffering from episodes of depression are classified as having unipolar mood disorder, while those alternating between episodes of depression and mania and are diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Mood disorders present with a variety of cognitive, affective and behavioural symptoms and are correlated with an increased risk of suicide. Although the precise cause of mood disorders remains unknown, researchers have identified possible risk factors that include biological, psycho-social, interpersonal and socio-cultural variables. In worldwide clinical practice, the classification of mood disorders relies on criteria delineated in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), published in 2013 by American Psychiatric Association.
In order to arrive at a precise diagnosis and a suitable treatment plan for each patient, the cognitive, behavioural, emotional and somatic symptoms of mood disorders must be assessed by a health practitioner. Depending on the circumstances of each case, the treatment could involve psychotherapy, medication or both. Lifestyle changes, social support and psycho-education about mental health can also be useful in preventing the occurrence and/or recurrence of a mood disorder.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
OCD is an anxiety-based disorder characterized by recurrent, negative thoughts which the individual finds distressing and often accompanied by rituals (or compulsions) which the person engages in to reduce their anxiety. About 2-3% of the general population suffers from OCD. It occurs in children, adolescents and adults.
Obsessions are recurring thoughts, images, or impulses that seem senseless but continue to intrude in one's mind for long periods of time. These thoughts are excessive and usually unrelated to real life problems. It is almost as if one's mind is "stuck" on these ideas or images.
Compulsions are behaviours an individual engages in that temporarily reduce the anxiety created by obsessive thoughts. Patients come to (irrationally) believe that the ritualistic behaviours are the only way to prevent the bad thoughts from becoming reality. The most common obsessions include washing, checking, and counting.
Obsessions may occur by themselves, without necessarily being accompanied by compulsions. About 25% of patients who suffer from OCD have obsessions only and these often revolve around fears of harming a loved one and/or something bad happening to a loved one.
OCD is often accompanied by depression as well as phobic avoidance of situations, events, or things which trigger anxiety.
The article entitled, A College Student Tells His OCD Story, was written by an actual patient who first developed symptoms of OCD at nine years old. He presents with the more common form of OCD which entails both obsessions and compulsions. He describes his struggle to overcome the "vicious cycle" of anxiety that fuels OCD. He is at presently functioning extremely well and completing an a doctorate in psychology.
Burnout is regarded as an occupational health problem involving multiple symptoms. According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) most recent international classification of diseases (ICD-11), burnout results from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. The main symptoms of the disorder include: feelings of exhaustion, increased mental distance from one’s job and/or feelings of negativism, and reduced professional efficacy (WHO, 2019).
Some researchers and clinicians emphasize that burn-out involves feelings of both physical and emotional exhaustion as well as reduced cognitive alertness. Individuals can also experience feelings of anxiety when at work or when thinking about work. There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that burnout presents with many of the symptoms of clinical depression. In fact, some of these researchers conclude that burnout may be a from of depression.
The treatment of burnout is usually multifaceted involving psychological interventions as well as quality of life and organizational changes. Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy (CBT) uses cognitive restructuring, relaxation exercises and stress management techniques to help alleviate symptoms. Individuals are also encouraged to make quality of life changes such as: adopting healthy eating, exercising, developing good sleep habits, setting boundaries at work and their personal lives, taking regular breaks from technology, and practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga and mindfulness on a regular basis.
There is almost universal agreement among couple therapists and researchers, regardless of theoretical orientation, that conflict is inevitable in a marriage or in any long-term dyadic relationship. The aura of the honeymoon fades when the couple makes unromantic decisions about where to live, how to budget money, share domestic routines and responsibilities, when to visit those unbearable in-laws, if and when to have children and how to raise them, as well as negotiating the changing nature of gender roles.
These potential sources of conflict must be handled by any two people living together, whether they are married or not, whether they are of the opposite or same sex. Authorities agree that it is how couples deal with such inherent conflicts that determines the quality and duration of their relationship.
When couples do not acknowledge and/or attempt to resolve conflicts, dissatisfaction and resentment continue to deepen and eventually take their toll. It is at the critical point that some of these distressed couples will seek professional help.
Sexual dysfunctions and disorders are common amongst people of all ages and across many different cultures and socioeconomic strata. Despite the wide availability of information on sexuality in academic and popular books as well as the internet, there are still widespread misconceptions and myths about sexuality which often exacerbate the sexual problems individuals experience.
Common sexual dysfunctions in males are: erectile disorder, premature ejaculation and inhibited ejaculation. Common sexual problems that women present with include inorgasmia and pain during sexual activity. Both males and females can also present with lack of desire and/or arousal as well as sexual aversion.
Sexual problems are often caused by multiple factors that sometimes include both physical and psychological components. A detailed, thorough assessment is required in each case to determine key contributing factors and to suggest the most appropriate treatment(s).
Sex Therapy is a CBT based therapy developed by Masters & Johnson over 50 years ago which has been shown to be an effective treatment for many sexual dysfunctions. The link below outlines the key components of Sex Therapy as well as a list of recommended self-help books for individuals experiencing sexual problems.