Psychological problems

These are just some of the common psycholgical problems people face in life that can benefit from seeing a trained psychotherapist.


Trauma occurs as the result of a deeply upsetting event (or a series of events) that overwhelm that person's ability to cope with the ideas and emotions involved. The trauma need not be necessarily felt immediately and can crop up some time later. Trauma tends to manifest itself as a feeling of complete helplessness in the face of real or subjective threats to one's self or loved ones, causing feelings of extreme confusion, insecurity or betrayal.

Typical causes include violence or sexual abuse (or the witnessing of either), even verbal abuse, particularly in childhood. Much more extreme examples can occur with war or catastrophic events like earthquakes.

Suffering often comes in the form of re-experiencing the event perhaps as a result of emotional triggers or cues, of which the sufferer is often not aware. It can take the form of panic attacks, nightmares, flashbacks and insomnia. Longer term this can lead to feelings of despair, loss of self-esteem, and depression. Sufferers may try to escape these feeling through alcohol or drugs.


Anxiety is part psychological and part physical. Feelings of fear, apprehension, dread and panic can lead to headaches, stomach aches, nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath and heart palpitations.

Common causes of anxiety include social occasions, presentations, interviews, phobias, fear of flying.



Bereavement is the state of loss that can follow the death of a friend, family member, or other close companion, or redundancy, etc. While everyone will have to face bereavement or loss some time in their life, reactions to it vary enormously and there can be an element of risk for people who don't receive adequate support during this difficult time. It can lead to problems with relationships with other family members, for example, there is an increased risk of relationship breakup.

A common immediate effect can be found in feelings of anger, anxiety, unreality, depersonalisation, withdrawal, and an inability to come to terms with what just occurred. The sufferer may find they need help to assimiliate the loss and to find meaning in life again.


Depression affects a person's mood causing loss of interest in usual activities and diminished ability to experience pleasure. This can affect work, family and school life, sleeping and eating habits, general health and ability to enjoy life. It can appear suddenly and disappear equally suddenly, it can last for just a short while or can persist for months. It can be dangerous in that it can lead to attempted suicide.

Symptoms include persistent sadness, loss of appetite, irritability, feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt, helplessness, pessimism, lack of concentration, feelings of fatigue or loss of interest in sex.

Depression in some cases comes from a genetic predisposition which may be exacerbated by events in one's life or by lifestyle. It can occur as a result of job loss, poverty, financial difficulties, gambling addiction, eating disorders, bereavement, rape, divorce or relationship or sexual problems.


Phobias are irrational, intense and persistent fears, and are generally thought to come from a combination of external events and internal predispositions, that can sometimes be traced back to an earlier traumatic event. Phobias often relate to quite specific things such as dogs or flying, or social anxiety disorder, or agoraphobia (fear of leaving an area in which one feels safe, usually ones own home).

Fears are quite commonplace, however phobias can be uncontrollable and quite disabling for sufferers.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD is characterised by obsessive and intrusive thoughts and "rituals" the sufferer sometimes carries out to try to deal with them. Obsessions are defined as recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses, or images that can cause distress. Such obsessions are more than just excessive worries about everyday situations, and the sufferer recognises that they're not based in reality. The compulsions are repetitive behaviours that sufferer uses in response to the compulsions, often observing quite rigidly defined rules. The obsessions and compulsions are time-consuming and interfere with one's social or working life.

Common symptoms include repetitive hand-washing, counting things in systems, aligning objects according to a scheme, fear of acting on aggressive impulses, sexual obsessions or fear of one's sexuality, having to "cancel out" bad thoughts with good thoughts, an obsession with numbers, and fear of dirt or contamination.