Mental health throughout the agesSave
By Dr Megan Arroll
More people than ever are suffering from some form of psychological distress.
Employees are crippled by the pressure to be on-call 24 hours.
Teenagers have never been exposed to such scrutiny with social media.
The ageing population means more and more elderly people are struggling for cash and quality care.
In fact, even primary school teachers have reported a surge in young children suffering the classic signs of anxiety.
But whether you're an adult or a child, understanding the cause of this distress is complicated - and therefore treating it is difficult, reports Daily Mail.
Here, Dr Meg Arroll, a psychologist specializing in health, outlines some of the classic stressors that she is seeing at the moment, and how they differ for each age group.
Mental health problems do not discriminate between age groups.
While 2 percent of children can be clinically defined as suffering from depression, many others will be undiagnosed.
Research by the largest teachers' union in the UK (NASUWT) recently found that 98 percent of teachers surveyed had come into contact with children experiencing mental health problems, some as young as four years old.
The causes of such problems are as varied as in adults (home life, school, friends, family history, etc).
But mental health difficulties can be harder to identify in children as anxiety may simply be explained away as childhood shyness; something they'll grow out of.
However, anxiety in early childhood (ages four to five) is a sign that your child might suffer from depression in the future.
So if s/he is avoiding social gathering like other children's parties, finds it hard to speak up and answer questions at school or tells you s/he doesn't feel as good at things as other children, it would be confronting this form of social anxiety.
Early intervention is key for children with mental health problems.
Setting, and keeping to, daily routines, physical exercise and openly talking about worries in the household can also help combat mental health problems in children.
Mental health problems tend do increase in adolescents and can result in eating disorders, self-harm and aggression.
The rollercoaster of puberty, pressures of school and exams as well as constant bombardment of social media can all contribute to anxiety and depression in teenagers.
By the age of 18, one in five teenagers will have had an episode of depression. It can be challenging to figure out what behaviors are normal 'growing pains' and what are signs of something more serious.
Problems at school, having no pleasure in things they like anymore and blaming themselves for everything that goes wrong are signs of possible mental health problems.
If your teenager's acting completely out of character, trust your gut and don't put it down to moodiness.
Young adults get pretty bad press these days. Seen as unfriendly, lacking in discipline and work ethic by older people, those in their 20s also have to cope with all the difficulties of becoming adults in an increasingly volatile economy.
The rates of mental health problems are higher during our late teens and early 20's than any other life stage.
But this is the time when people find it hardest to seek out help.
This is because young people want to be self-reliant, often misinterpret the signs of poor mental health and can feel embarrassed about it.
The Heads Together campaign, supported by the young Royals, has been working hard this year to reduce the stigma of mental health problems.
The Mix offers free and confidential support for young people under the age of 25 through their website and helpline.
Juggling a career and a family can make our 30s the toughest years.
Young children, big mortgage, possibly elderly parents and the desire to keep it all together can lead to anxiety, feeling utterly overwhelmed and depressed.
Stress and burn-out during our 30s can wreak havoc with daily life so it's important to find strategies that help us cope.
Once learnt, mindfulness can be used to calm the mind and feel more in control, even when life's challenging.
The Headspace app allows you to download and personalise sessions to use anytime, anywhere.
For women, hormonal and bodily changes at this time can also contribute to new anxieties.
It's important to distinguish if low mood and feeling worried is being caused by changes in hormone levels as the perimenopause usually starts in this decade.
This transitional stage in the lead-up to the menopause can last from two to 10 years. Irregular periods, sleep problems, decreased libido, bladder issues and severe mood swings can be a marker of the drop in estrogen.
Therefore, if you have all or some of these symptoms along with anxiety and low mood visit your GP.
There are a number of natural alternatives to help such as herbal remedies such as St John's Wort and specific menopause supplements such as A.Vogel Menosan a fresh herb extract.
The men are more likely to commit suicide during their early 40s.
Money worries, divorce, job loss or even no obvious reason at all can trigger suicidal thoughts. It's vital that men, who are often reluctant to speak about mental health problems, access help and support.
Samaritans offer a free, 24-hour-a-day helpline on 116 123 in the UK.
The Mental Health Foundation also has a range of top tips for taking care of ourselves.
The culture and society we will in can affect how we think about age and aging. While traditional cultures respect and value age and experience, in western societies getting older can be perceived as an end of productivity.
This of course is not true. To overcome the negative influence of age stereotypes, seek out positive messages.
Psychical health problems can undoubtedly make us feel down-in-the-dumps so don't ignore your physical health as you get older.
Exercise can reduce depression and anxiety across all age groups but is particularly important in mid-life to combat age-related illnesses.
Lack of vitamin D has been linked to feelings of depression and low mood.
Vitamin D deficiency is a common problem in older adults, to such an extent that over-65s are recommended that take a supplement of vitamin D of 10 micrograms per day.
Healthspan offer a vitamin D3 supplement at £9.45 for 240 tablets. But in addition to supplements, older people should spend time outdoors for at least 10-15 minutes a day without sunscreen (advice from Age UK).
This is because our bodies produce vitamin D in response to direct sunlight.
Of course, in winter there isn't a great deal of sunlight so during October to early March, eat foods such as oily fish, eggs and fortified breakfast cereals.
Researchers have shown that social isolation is as damaging to health as smoking.
This is because being alone and lacking social connectedness directly affects our physiology via the fight-or-flight response.
Isolated people not only have a greater risk of stroke and heart disease, but also may fall into unhealthy behaviors such as drinking excessive alcohol and over-eating, which in turn add to the problem.
Loneliness also increases the risk of depression in older people.
Watching TV, listening to the radio or spending time on the computer do not help people feel connected to others.
If you do feel lonely, turn to activities with others such as hobbies, voluntary work, visiting museums and galleries and sports for older people.
Support through Sport UK lists local clubs that provide sessions for older people. If mobility is a barrier, Age UK offer telephone and face-to-face befriending services.
If you know someone who seems isolated, pick up the phone - Age UK states that 200,000 older people haven't had a conversation with friends or family for a month.
Even a short call will help protect their mental health.
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
• Canterbury Support Line: 0800 777 846