SOME COMMON EARLY SIGNS OF A MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEM ARE:
COGNITIVE (Thinking) DISTORTIONS
The term “cognitive distortion” refers to errors in thinking or patterns of thought that are biased in some way. They may include: (A) interpretations that are not very accurate and which selectively filter the available evidence, (B) evaluations that are harsh and unfair, and/or (C) expectations for oneself and for others that are rigid and unreasonable. The more a person’s thinking is characterized by these distortions, the more they are likely to experience disturbing emotions and to engage in maladaptive behavior. A number of common patterns2 of cognitive distortions have been identified, including:
1. All-or-nothing thinking: Looking at things in absolute, black-and-white categories, instead of on a continuum. For example, if something is less than perfect, one sees it as a total failure.
2. Overgeneralization: Viewing a negative event as a part of a never-ending pattern of negativity while ignoring evidence to the contrary. You can often tell if you’re overgeneralizing if you use words such as never, always, all, every, none, no one, nobody, or everyone.
3. Mental filter: Focusing on a single negative detail and dwelling it on it exclusively until one’s vision of reality becomes darkened.
4. Magnification or minimization (e.g., magnifying the negative and minimizing the positive): Exaggerating the importance of one’s problems and shortcomings. A form of this is called “catastrophizing” in which one tells oneself that an undesirable situation is unbearable, when it is really just uncomfortable or inconvenient.
5. Discounting the positive: Telling oneself that one’s positive experiences, deeds, or personal qualities don’t count in order to maintain a negative belief about oneself. Or doing this to someone else.
6. Mind reading: Concluding what someone is thinking without any evidence, not considering other possibilities, and making no effort to check it out.
7. Fortune telling: Anticipating that things will turn out badly, and feeling convinced that the prediction is an already established fact. It often involves: (A) overestimating the probability of danger, (B) exaggerating the severity of the consequences should the feared event occur, and (C) underestimating one’s ability to cope should the event occur. B and C are also examples of catastrophizing.
8. Emotional reasoning: Assuming that one’s negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are (e.g., “Because I feel it, it must be true.” “I feel stupid, therefore I am stupid”).
9. Rigid rules (perfectionism). Having a precise, fixed idea of how oneself or others should behave, and overestimating how bad it is when these expectations are not met. Often phrased as "should" or “must” statements.
10. Unfair judgments: Holding oneself personally responsible for events that aren't (or aren’t entirely) under one’s control, or blaming other people and overlooking ways in which one might have also contributed to the problem.
11. Name-calling: Putting an extremely negative and emotionally-loaded label on oneself or others. It is an extreme form of magnification and minimization, and also represents a gross overgeneralization.
Ideally, everyone would behave in a calm, rational, adult manner at work. But unfortunately, some people just never grow up completely. If you have to deal with immature bosses, coworkers, or employees, perhaps the suggestions below will help you keep your sanity. Here are some signs that you are dealing with a childish adult.
The Psychology and LIfeskills Clinic specializes in the treatment of anxiety and mood disorders. These include:
Psychological difficulty definitions
While your experience will never be exactly the same as someone else's, each difficulty can be captured, at least to some extent, buy one of the official psychiatric/ psychological definitions. These definitions help professionals and researchers to better develop psychological treatments.
This section includes most of the common difficulties that the London Psychology Clinic treats. These descriptions are taken from the latest edition of the ICD-10 (the World Health Organisation's International Classification of Diseases, Volume 10). This section may help you better understand your experiences and that other people also experience the same cluster of difficulties:
In typical mild, moderate, or severe depressive episodes, the patient suffers from lowering of mood, reduction of energy, and decrease in activity. Capacity for enjoyment, interest, and concentration is reduced, and marked tiredness after even minimum effort is common. Sleep is usually disturbed and appetite diminished. Self-esteem and self-confidence are almost always reduced and, even in the mild form, some ideas of guilt or worthlessness are often present. The lowered mood varies little from day to day, is unresponsive to circumstances and may be accompanied by so-called "somatic" symptoms, such as loss of interest and pleasurable feelings, waking in the morning several hours before the usual time, depression worst in the morning, marked psychomotor retardation, agitation, loss of appetite, weight loss, and loss of libido.
The essential feature is recurrent attacks of severe anxiety (panic), which are not restricted to any particular situation or set of circumstances and are therefore unpredictable. As with other anxiety disorders, the dominant symptoms include sudden onset of palpitations, chest pain, choking sensations, dizziness, and feelings of unreality (depersonalisation or derealisation). There is often also a secondary fear of dying, losing control, or going mad.
Phobic anxiety disorders
A group of disorders in which anxiety is evoked only, or predominantly, in certain well-defined situations that are not currently dangerous. As a result these situations are characteristically avoided or endured with dread. The patient's concern may be focused on individual symptoms like palpitations or feeling faint and is often associated with secondary fears of dying, losing control, or going mad. Contemplating entry to the phobic situation usually generates anticipatory anxiety. Phobic anxiety and depression often coexist.
Fear of scrutiny by other people leading to avoidance of social situations. More pervasive social phobias are usually associated with low self-esteem and fear of criticism. They may present as a complaint of blushing, hand tremor, nausea, or urgency of needing to go to the toilet, the patient sometimes being convinced that one of these secondary manifestations of their anxiety is the primary problem. Symptoms may progress to panic attacks.
Phobias restricted to highly specific situations such as proximity to particular animals, heights, thunder, darkness, flying, closed spaces, urinating or defecating in public toilets, eating certain foods, dentistry, or the sight of blood or injury. Though the triggering situation is discrete, contact with it can evoke panic as in agoraphobia or social phobia. Examples include:
Acrophobia (fear of heights or high places)
Claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces)
Generalised anxiety disorder
Anxiety that is generalized and persistent but not restricted to, or even strongly predominating in, any particular environmental circumstances (i.e. it is "free-floating"). The dominant symptoms are variable but include complaints of persistent nervousness, trembling, muscular tensions, sweating, light-headedness, palpitations, dizziness, and epigastric discomfort. Fears that the patient or a relative will shortly become ill or have an accident are often expressed.
A fairly well-defined cluster of phobias embracing fears of leaving home, entering shops, crowds and public places, or travelling alone in trains, buses or planes. Panic disorder is a frequent feature of both present and past episodes. Depressive and obsessional symptoms and social phobias are also commonly present as subsidiary features. Avoidance of the phobic situation is often prominent, and some agoraphobics experience little anxiety because they are able to avoid their phobic situations.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
The essential feature is recurrent obsessional thoughts or compulsive acts. Obsessional thoughts are ideas, images, or impulses that enter the patient's mind again and again in a stereotyped form. They are almost invariably distressing and the patient often tries, unsuccessfully, to resist them. They are, however, recognized as his or her own thoughts, even though they are involuntary and often repugnant. Compulsive acts or rituals are stereotyped behaviours that are repeated again and again. They are not inherently enjoyable, nor do they result in the completion of inherently useful tasks. Their function is to prevent some objectively unlikely event, often involving harm to or caused by the patient, which he or she fears might otherwise occur. Usually, this behaviour is recognized by the patient as pointless or ineffectual and repeated attempts are made to resist. Anxiety is almost invariably present. If compulsive acts are resisted the anxiety gets worse.
Health anxiety (hypochondriacal disorder)
The essential feature is a persistent preoccupation with the possibility of having one or more serious and progressive physical disorders. Patients manifest persistent somatic complaints or a persistent preoccupation with their physical appearance. Normal or commonplace sensations and appearances are often interpreted by patients as abnormal and distressing, and attention is usually focused upon only one or two organs or systems of the body. Marked depression and anxiety are often present, and may justify additional diagnoses.