Types of Mental
Feelings of tension, distress or
nervousness include agorophobia, social phobia, panic disorder, generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder
(OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Fear of being in public places from
which it may be difficult to escape. Includes fears of leaving home, entering shops, crowds, or travelling in trains, buses
or planes. A compelling desire to avoid the phobic situation is often prominent.
Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Unrealistic or excessive anxiety
and worry about two or more life circumstances for six months or more during which the person has these concerns more days
Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessions are recurrent,
persistent ideas, thoughts, images or impulses that intrude into the person's consciousness against their will. The person
experiences these as being senseless or repugnant, but is unable to ignore or suppress them.
Compulsions are recurrent,
sterotyped behaviours that are performed according to certain rules. The person often views them as preventing some unlikely
event, often involving harm to, or caused by, him or herself. The person generally recognises the senselessness of the behaviour,
attempts to resist it and does not derive pleasure from carrying out the activity.
The essential feature of this disorder
is panic (anxiety) attacks that occur suddenly and unpredictably. A panic attack is a discrete episode of immense fear or
Stress Disorder (PTSD)
A delayed and/or protracted response
to a psychologically distressing event that is outside the range experience of usual human experience (i.e., outside the range
of experiences such as bereavement, chronic illness, business losses and marital conflict). Experiencing such an event is
usually associated with intense fear, terror, and helplessness. The characteristic symptoms involve re-experiencing the traumatic
event (flashbacks), avoidance of situations or activities associated with the event, numbing of general responsiveness, and
A persistent, irrational fear of
being the focus of attention, or fear of behaving in a way that will be embarrassing or humiliating. These fears arise in
social situations such as meeting new people or speaking in public. A compelling desire to avoid the phobic situation may
A mood disturbance. Includes mania,
hypomania, bipolar affective disorder, depression and dysthymia.
Characterised by repeated episodes
in which the person's mood and activity levels are significantly disturbed - on some occasions lowered (depression) and on
some occasions elevated (mania or hypomania).
A state of gloom, despondency or
sadness lasting at least two weeks. The person usually suffers from low mood, loss of interest and enjoyment, and reduced
energy. Their sleep, appetitie and concentration may be affected.
A disorder characterised by constant
or constantly recurring chronic depression of mood, lasting at least two years, which is not sufficiently severe, or whose
episodes are not sufficiently prolonged, to qualify as recurrent depressive disorder. The person feels tired and depressed,
sleeps badly and feels inadequate, but is usually able to cope with the basic demands of everyday life.
A lesser degree of mania characterised
by a persistent mild elevation of mood and increased activity lasting at least four days. Increased sociability, over-familiarity
and a decreased need for sleep are often present, but not to the extent that they lead to severe disruption.
A disorder in which mood is happy,
elevated, expansive or irritable out of keeping with the person's circumstances lasting at least seven days. The person may
exhibit hyperactivity, inflated self-esteem, distractability and overfamiliar or reckless behaviour.
Australians, both female and male,
tend to be positive about their health. In 1995 over half of the adult population (55 per cent for females and 54 per cent
for males) assessed their health as excellent or very good. These figures had declined slightly by 2001 to 53 per cent of
women and 50 per cent of men reporting excellent/very good health.
By contrast in 1995, 17 per cent
of both women and men said their health was fair to poor. By 2001, those figures had increased slightly to 18 per cent for
both women and men.
Body image is a description for
how a person thinks and feels about his or her body.
We live in a culture which idealises
fitness, (extreme) thinness and youth, across all types of media. In this environment it is difficult for many people to retain
feelings of confidence and self esteem, if their body falls short of the perceived "ideal".
A person's existing negative body
image can be further compounded by the confusion engendered by the modern retail shopping experience.
Young Woman - "20 Year Old Who Has Never Dieted to Lose Weight"
"I wish that size wasn't a marketing tool! So many shops 'play' with the sizing to fit their target market which
is unfair and deceptive and to unsuspecting insecure females it can be tough. One of the worst feelings is to go into a change
room with a 14 and have trouble! And have to admit you need a bigger size! Going in different shops can fluctuate 2-3 sizes".44
Negative body images may contribute
to eating disorders.
Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa
are two serious eating disorders. As the Department of Health's publication, What is an Eating disorder? outlines:
Each illness involves a preocupation with control over body weight,
eating and food.
People with anorexia are determined to control the amounts of
food they eat.
People with bulimia tend to feel out of control where food is
Anorexia affects two out of every 100 teenage girls, although
the illness can be experienced earlier and later in life. Most people who have anorexia are females, but males also develop
Bulimia may affect up to three in every 100 teenage girls. More
females than males develop bulimia.
According to the Department of Health and Ageing, around 40 per
cent of those with anorexia will later develop bulimia.45
Many factors can contribute to the development of anorexia and/or
bulimia. Psychological, biological and social factors are all involved. Social influences include the media who generally
portray the desirable body as that which is fit and slim. Compounding this, large people are often stereotyped in negative
ways, with a perception that they are greedy and out of control.
Personal factors such as the onset of adolescence, child birth,
the death of a loved one or a belief that love from family and friends depends on high achievement can contribute to the onset
of an eating disorder.
Biological factors such as chemical or hormonal imbalances can
also be implicated.46
The physical effects of anorexia and
bulimia can be extremely serious if not treated and can include:
Damage to the kidneys
Damage to the colon
Seizures, muscle spasms or cramps (resulting from chemical imbalances)
Strain on most body organs
In severe cases, death.47
Why am I so tired48
Anaemia - Clinical Definition
Anaemia occurs when the concentration of the body's red blood cells, or the oxygen-carrying
pigment contained in them, haemoglobin, falls below normal levels.49
Anaemia is a debilitating condition
typified by a range of symptoms including:
Dizziness and faintness
Racing heart or palpitations
Concentration difficulties (due to a lack of oxygen flow to the
One of the most common forms of anaemia,
iron deficiency anaemia, has particular impact on women. Iron deficiency anaemia is most commonly found in menstruating women,
pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding.
According to Women's Health Australia:
Concern about iron deficiency among women arises from anecdotal and clinical evidence suggesting
that it is a common problem. However, very little is known about the prevalence of iron deficiency or its effects on the lives
of ordinary adult women. A very high proportion of women describe themselves as 'always tired' ... which illustrates the frequency
of this syndrome.51
Women's Health Australia
further notes that:
... a high proportion of Australian women are iron deficient and that the effects on well-being
and ability to cope with everyday life are considerable.52
The Victorian Government reports that
Around one in five menstruating women and half of all pregnant women are anaemic.53
If left untreated, severe anaemia can
be a chronic and debilitating illness.
In 2001, the two favoured contraceptive
methods for women aged 18-49 years and who were sexually active, were oral contraceptives (27 per cent) and condoms (23 per
The popularity of different contraceptive
methods varied over age-groups. For instance, of women aged 18-24, 43 per cent used oral contraceptives (as their preferred
method) while another 36 per cent used condoms. In contrast, older women were more likely to rely on sterilisation to prevent
conception. Of women aged 40-44, 22 per cent had partners who had been sterilised, while of women aged 45-49, 21 per cent
had a sterilised partner and a further 21 per cent had had a tubal ligation/tubes tied.