What is it? 

Bipolar disorder (previously known as Manic-depressive disorder) has been recognized since the time of Ancient Greeks. Hippocrates described the conditions of melancholia and mania. However, it has only been over the past 20-30 years that this condition of disturbed mood and activity has been appreciated and recognized. The lifetime incidence of bipolar disorder ranges from about 1 to 3.5% of the population. 

Symptoms

During the manic phase, symptoms may include: 

  • Extreme happiness, hopefulness, and excitement 
  • Irritability, anger, fits of rage, and hostile behaviour 
  • Restlessness and agitation 
  • Rapid speech and poor concentration 
  • Increased energy and less need for sleep 
  • Unusually high sex drive 
  • Setting unrealistic goals 
  • Paranoia 

During the depressive phase, symptoms may include: 

  • Sadness and crying 
  • Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and guilt 
  • Loss of energy and interest or pleasure in everyday activities 
  • Trouble concentrating and making decisions 
  • Irritability and changes in sleep patterns 
  • Changes in appetite and weight 
  • Suicidal thoughts and attempts at suicide 

Causes 

The causes of bipolar disorder differ between individuals, and the exact mechanism is not clear. It’s often reported in families of affected individuals, suggesting a genetic component. Abnormal brain structure and function may also play a role. Other factors that may contribute include seasonal depression and certain other mental illnesses such as anxiety disorder. Risk factors include family history, stress, and drug or alcohol abuse. 

Interventions 

Intervention options include psychotherapy and medication. Medications may include mood stabilisers, antipsychotic drugs, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety drugs. Psychological therapy may involve interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, psychoeducation, and family-focused therapy. In severe cases, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) may be used. 

What is it? 

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a mental health condition that affects a person’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, making it difficult for them to cope in all areas of life. People with BPD often have an abnormally distorted view of themselves and their environment, leading to intense, uncontrollable emotions, distress, and anger. BPD is a potentially life-long disorder that starts in the adolescent and emerging adulthood years.  

Symptoms 

Symptoms of BPD can vary, but commonly include: 

  • Distorted self-image 
  • Feelings of isolation, boredom, and emptiness 
  • Severe and sudden mood swings 
  • Anxiety 
  • Loss of interest in routine activities 
  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Delusions 

Causes 

The exact causes of BPD are not fully understood, but it’s believed to be a combination of genetic, environmental, and brain-related factors. Adverse life experiences such as child abuse, neglect, or anything that causes long-term fear and distress seem to play a key role in causing BPD. In some people, a stressful event or relationship breakup may be associated with the development of BPD. Genetics also play a role, with BPD tending to run in families. Abnormalities in the brain, particularly in the front limbic network of neurons, have also been implicated. 

Interventions 

Interventions for BPD are mainly treated using psychotherapy, but medication may be added. Psychotherapy — also called talk therapy — is a fundamental treatment approach for BPD. Your therapist may adapt the type of therapy to best meet your needs. The goals of psychotherapy are to help you focus on your current ability to function, learn to manage emotions that feel uncomfortable, reduce your impulsiveness by helping you observe feelings rather than acting on them, and work on improving relationships by being aware of your feelings and those of others. Types of psychotherapy that have been found to be effective include Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), Schema-focused therapy, Mentalisation-based therapy (MBT), and Systems training for emotional predictability and problem-solving (STEPPS). 

What is it? 

Schizophrenia and psychosis, often misunderstood and feared, are mental health disorders marked by symptoms like hallucinations and delusions. These symptoms can impair daily functioning and lead to self-care difficulties, prompting individuals or their loved ones to seek help. Hallucinations often involve hearing voices or seeing images that others don’t, while delusions are fixed, often paranoid beliefs. These experiences can cause distraction and social disconnection, leading to feelings of isolation, fear, anxiety, and depression. While psychosis rarely leads to violence, when it does, it garners attention, perpetuating the misconception that those with psychosis are violent. In reality, they’re socially disconnected and preoccupied with their very real-seeming symptoms. 

Symptoms 

Symptoms of schizophrenia and other psychoses may vary, but usually include: 

  • Delusions: False beliefs that are not based in reality 
  • Hallucinations: Sensory experiences that are not real, such as hearing voices 
  • Disorganized thinking (speech): Effective communication can be impaired, and answers to questions may be partially or completely unrelated 
  • Disorganised or abnormal motor behaviour: This may show in a number of ways, from childlike silliness to unpredictable agitation 
  • Negative symptoms: Reduced or lack of ability to function normally. For example, the person may neglect personal hygiene or appear to lack emotion 
  • Decreased speech output: The person may speak less than usual 

Causes 

Schizophrenia and other psychoses can have multiple causes. These include biological factors such as brain chemistry and genetics, where abnormal neurotransmitter function and hereditary factors can predispose an individual to these conditions. Environmental factors, such as complications during pregnancy and birth, can also contribute. Psychological aspects, including trauma and mental health conditions, are additional risk factors. The interplay of these elements makes these disorders multifaceted, requiring a comprehensive approach to understanding and treatment. 

Interventions 

Gaining trust and developing a care plan that offers social support as part of  the intervention is at the centre of helping people with psychosis. Interventions for schizophrenia and other psychoses are personalised and multifaceted. They include medical care for managing physical symptoms, psychotherapy techniques like cognitive behavioural therapy and motivational interviewing, lifestyle changes to develop healthier habits and a supportive network, and intervention meetings organised by loved ones to help the individual recognise their problem and the need for help. 

 

What is it? 

Addiction, derived from the Latin word “addictus” meaning “enslaved”, is a severe loss of self-control. It’s an overpowering urge to indulge in substances like alcohol, drugs, or activities like gambling and internet use. This uncontrollable drive, despite its harmful effects, can lead to significant distress and disrupt social ties. Particularly vulnerable are the world’s youth (10-24 years), who make up over a quarter of the global population. Substance abuse, especially alcohol among males, is a leading cause of global disability. Treating addiction is a pressing challenge, as it’s more than a choice—it’s a biological and psychological effect on the brain that we’re only beginning to understand. 

Symptoms 

  • Regular Use: Feeling that you have to use the drug regularly — daily or even several times a day 
  • Intense Cravings: Having intense urges for the drug that block out any other thoughts 
  • Increased Tolerance: Over time, needing more of the drug to get the same effect 
  • Neglecting Responsibilities: Not meeting obligations and work responsibilities or cutting back on social or recreational activities because of drug use 
  • Continued Use Despite Harm: Continuing to use the drug, even though you know it’s causing problems in your life or causing you physical or psychological harm 
  • Risky Activities: Doing things to get the drug that you normally wouldn’t do, such as stealing. Driving or doing other risky activities when you’re under the influence of the drug 
  • Withdrawal Symptoms: Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop taking the drug 
  • Neglecting Appearance: Not caring about your physical appearance as much as you used to 
  • Mood and Behaviour Changes: Sudden changes in mood and behaviour 
  • Hostility or Denial: Hostility or denial when you’re confronted about substance use 

Causes 

Substance addiction is a complex condition with multiple causes. It’s not solely about the substance or activity, but rather a mix of biological, psychological, and social factors. Individual feelings, emotional state, family relationships, social ties, community attributes, employment status, stress reactivity, coping skills, physical or emotional pain, personality traits, educational opportunities, compelling goals, and access to rewards in life all play a role. Additionally, genetics, environment, trauma, and mental health are known risk factors. The interplay of these factors makes addiction a multifaceted problem that requires a comprehensive approach to treatment. 

Interventions 

An important fact that drives eventual outcomes is that most cases of addiction do not usually develop immediately and the earlier the intervention the better the chance of avoiding a condition that can become destructive and unrelenting. Prevention is often better than cure, but it is never too late to find your personal recovery. Interventions are multifaceted and tailored to the individual’s needs, including medical care, psychotherapy, lifestyle changes, and intervention meetings. Treatment is a continuous process and may change over time based on the individual’s progress and needs. 

What is it? 

Relationship challenges refer to the difficulties and conflicts that occur in a relationship. These challenges can arise from differences in ideas, beliefs, and perspectives, and can cause significant stress and conflict. They are a normal part of any partnership but can become serious issues if they lead to chronic conflict and stress.  

Symptoms 

Symptoms of relationship challenges may include: 

  • Spending less time together 
  • Minimal communication 
  • Being critical of each other 
  • Indicating that the relationship is not going well 
  • Differences of opinions are criticised rather than worked upon 
  • Always being defensive in front of each other 
  • Stopped discussing long-term plans 
  • Setting other priorities over the relationship 

Causes 

The causes of relationship challenges can vary greatly. They can be caused by differences in ideas, beliefs, and perspectives. Additionally, infidelity, loss of intimacy, communication difficulties, coping with stress challenges, financial pressures, boundary violations, difficulty balancing individual and couple expectations can also lead to relationship challenges. Relationship challenges can include issues such as fading enthusiasm, long work hours, and lack of personal time and space. 

Interventions 

Interventions for relationship challenges can include employing effective communication, managing conflict, nurturing trust, and prioritising individual and relationship well-being. Couples counselling or therapy provides a safe space for open communication, facilitates problem-solving, and offers expert guidance tailored to the specific needs of the relationship. Other interventions include cognitive-behavioural interventions, which aim to change cognitions and reinforce active coping skills, and relaxation techniques, which involve physical and mental relaxation techniques to help cope with the consequences of stress. 

What is it?  Stress is a normal reaction that happens to everyone. It is a physical or mental response that is produced by your body due to changes, challenges or perceived threat or pressure. It’s caused by chemicals and hormones surging throughout your body.   Symptoms  Here are some symptoms of stress: 
  • Headache 
  • Muscle tension or pain 
  • Chest pain 
  • Fatigue 
  • Change in sex drive 
  • Stomach upset 
  • Sleep problems 
  • Anxiety 
  • Restlessness 
  • Lack of motivation or focus 
  • Feeling overwhelmed 
  • Irritability or anger 
Causes  Stress is usually caused by the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure. Common stressors are everyday factors such as work-related pressures, financial worries, relationship problems, health issues, and major life changes like moving or starting a new job. Stress can be triggered by different life experiences, and everyone is stressed by different things.  Interventions  Interventions for stress include seeking help and comfort from others, acknowledging you are in the stress process, focusing on solving immediate problems, expressing your feelings out loud or in a journal, learning to recognize emotional triggers, and stress counselling therapy techniques such as role-play, preparing for loss with positive thought processes, and stress and yoga. Relaxation tools such as progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing, guided imagery, clinical hypnosis, and biofeedback are all useful for managing stress.  
Workplace Stress 
What is it?  Workplace stress, also known as work-related stress, refers to the harmful responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities, resources, or needs of the employee. It can occur when deadlines are constant and immovable or when a worker receives limited support from co-workers or managers. You may feel stressed if there’s a mismatch between what’s expected of you at work and what you’re able to do.  Symptoms  Symptoms of workplace stress may include: 
  • Feeling tense and edgy 
  • Difficulty sleeping or eating 
  • Getting upset or angry easily 
  • Headaches 
  • Feeling tired 
  • Panic attacks 
  • Drinking or smoking more than usual 
Causes  Workplace stress can be caused by a variety of factors. Long hours or a heavy workload can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed. Inflexible deadlines can add to this pressure, making tasks seem insurmountable. Conflict, bullying, or sexual harassment in the workplace can create a hostile environment, leading to increased stress. A lack of support from co-workers or managers can make an employee feel isolated and unsupported in their role. Additionally, a lack of appreciation for efforts can lead to feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction. Lastly, an uncomfortable physical environment that is too noisy, hot, cold, dusty, or otherwise uncomfortable can also contribute to workplace stress.  Interventions  Interventions for workplace stress typically fall into three categories. Primary interventions aim to prevent stress by proactively removing stressors from the environment, such as through work redesign. Secondary interventions focus on improving how workers respond to stress by providing skills to enhance resilience and coping. Tertiary interventions involve treating workers affected by mental health issues and supporting effective return to work. Other interventions include cognitive-behavioural interventions, which aim to change cognitions and reinforce active coping skills, and relaxation techniques, which involve physical and mental relaxation techniques to help cope with the consequences of stress.   
Psychologists that specialise in stress

Dr Tarmala Caple

I am committed to building a collaborative relationship with clients so they feel understood, supported, and empowered to overcome the challenges they are experiencing.

Read More »

Gabriella (Gabbie) Petta

I hope to work with my clients to create a safe and friendly therapeutic space that allows navigation of themes that may be limiting and exploration of different ways to move towards less suffering and greater growth.

Read More »

Mary Brennan

I am centered in fostering a safe and non-judgmental practice, empowering the client as the expert in their life narrative. The therapeutic space we create together forms the basis of a secure foundation from which to feel heard, understood, and empowered to transform your life.

Read More »

Gabriella Macri

I am a warm and empathetic Registered Psychologist with experience working in both clinical and community settings, supporting clients presenting with various difficulties across the lifespan and from diverse backgrounds.

Read More »

Chris Pastor

I am genuinely committed to and passionate about the client-therapist relationship. I strive to create a supportive, caring, and judgement free space for clients to feel empowered and hopeful about their own individual journeys.

Read More »

Mathew Walczak

I believe that change can only happen through collaboration and honesty with other people and with all parts of ourselves. I strive to create a space where people feel safe to be their authentic self and are motivated to take action towards achieving their goals even in the face of uncomfortable emotions.

Read More »

What is it? 

Grief is a natural emotional response to the loss of someone or something important. This could be a loved one, a job, a place, a dream, or even good health. It often involves intense sadness, and sometimes feelings of shock, numbness, denial, and anger. The experience of grief is different for everyone and can be exhausting and emotionally draining. 

Symptoms 

Symptoms of grief can include: 

  • Emptiness in the stomach 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Sadness 
  • Crying 
  • Loss of interest in any activity 
  • Lack of energy 
  • Dry mouth 
  • Tightness or heaviness in the chest 
  • Insensitivity to noise 
  • Irritability 
  • Seeing or hearing things related to the loss 

Causes 

Grief is usually caused by the loss of someone or something important. This could be due to the death of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job, diagnosis of a terminal illness, loss of good health due to an illness, accident or disability, miscarriage or infertility, having a child with a disability, a mental condition or a substance abuse problem, moving away or separation from family or friends, or having an ‘empty nest’ when children leave home. 

Interventions 

Interventions for grief include seeking help and comfort from others, acknowledging you are in the grieving process, focusing on solving immediate problems, expressing your feelings out loud or in a journal, learning to recognise emotional triggers, and grief counselling therapy techniques such as role-play, preparing for loss with positive thought processes, and grief and yoga. 

What is it? 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a type of trauma-related mental health disorder. It can develop after a person experiences or witnesses a terrifying event, particularly those that threaten life or physical integrity. It’s important to note that while PTSD is a type of trauma, not all traumatic experiences result in PTSD. The development of PTSD depends on a variety of factors, including the nature of the traumatic event, the individual’s psychological makeup, and their social support network. 

Symptoms 

Full-blown PTSD typically has four clusters of symptoms. 

Intrusive memories: 

  • Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event 
  • Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks) 
  • Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event 
  • Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event 

Avoidance: 

  • Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event 
  • Avoiding places, activities, or people that remind you of the traumatic event 

Negative changes in thinking and mood: 

  • Negative thoughts about yourself, other people, or the world 
  • Hopelessness about the future 
  • Memory problems, including not remembering important aspects of the traumatic event 
  • Difficulty maintaining close relationships 
  • Feeling detached from family and friends 
  • Lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed 
  • Difficulty experiencing positive emotions 
  • Feeling emotionally numb 

Changes in physical and emotional reactions: 

  • Being easily startled or frightened 
  • Always being on guard for danger 
  • Self-destructive behaviour, such as drinking too much or driving too fast 
  • Trouble sleeping 
  • Trouble concentrating 
  • Irritability, angry outbursts, or aggressive behaviour 
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame 

Please note that these symptoms can vary greatly among individuals.  

Causes 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that’s triggered by experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. The exact cause of PTSD is not known, but it can be triggered by various traumatic events such as physical or sexual assault, death of a loved one, an accident, war, or natural disaster. Serious medical conditions and ongoing emotional abuse or childhood neglect can also lead to PTSD. Other risk factors include a family history of depression and anxiety, having experienced traumatic events such as childhood abuse, having previously diagnosed depression or anxiety, and substance abuse such as excessive drinking or drug use. It’s important to note that not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop PTSD; individual reactions to trauma can vary greatly. 

Interventions 

Treatments for trauma include trauma-focused psychological interventions such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR). These focus on education, stress management techniques, and helping the person to confront feared situations and distressing memories. Other therapeutic techniques for trauma include Accelerated resolution therapy, Hypnotherapy, Narrative therapy. 

 

What is it? 

Trauma is a deeply distressing or disturbing experience that can have a profound physical and emotional impact on a person. It can be caused by a single event, such as a car accident or a natural disaster, or by repeated exposure to stressful or traumatic situations, such as child abuse or domestic violence. Trauma can result in emotional, physical, and psychological harm. Trauma can either be physical or emotional. 

Symptoms 

Symptoms can vary greatly among individuals and can include: 

  • Flashbacks: Recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic event 
  • Nightmares: Disturbing dreams related to the traumatic event 
  • Severe anxiety: Persistent feelings of high alertness or fear, even in safe situations 
  • Uncontrollable thoughts about the event: Difficulty controlling thoughts related to the traumatic event 
  • Fear: Persistent fear or horror related to the traumatic event 
  • Helplessness: Feeling powerless in the face of danger or threat 
  • Dissociation: Feeling disconnected from oneself or the world around you
  • Changes in attention, concentration, and memory retrieval: Difficulty focusing, remembering things, or making decisions 
  • Changes in behaviour, attitude, worldview: Changes in the way one views oneself, others, or the world 
  • Difficulty functioning: Difficulty performing daily tasks or maintaining relationships 
  • Denial: Refusing to believe that the trauma occurred 
  • Anger: Persistent feelings of anger or irritability 
  • Bargaining: Trying to negotiate or make deals to avoid dealing with the trauma 

Causes 

Trauma is a response to an intensely stressful event that psychologically overwhelms you, often resulting in shock, denial, and changes in the body, mind, and behaviour. Trauma is typically associated with significant events such as physical or sexual assault, violence, or accidents. But it can also involve responses to repeated events, like ongoing emotional abuse or childhood neglect. Other causes of trauma include natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, or floods, assault, loss of a loved one, witnessing an act of violence. 

Interventions 

Treatments for trauma include trauma-focused psychological interventions such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, and eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR). These focus on education, stress management techniques, and helping the person to confront feared situations and distressing memories. Other therapeutic techniques for trauma include Accelerated resolution therapy, Hypnotherapy, Narrative therapy. 

Please note that this is a general overview and individual experiences with trauma can vary greatly. 

What is it? 

What is it? Postnatal depression (PND) is a type of mood disorder that can affect one in seven women following the birth of their baby. Unlike the ‘baby blues’ which usually passes on its own, PND can be long-lasting and can affect a person’s ability to cope with a new baby. 

Symptoms  

Symptoms of PND can develop gradually or within a short period of time and can include: 

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or low mood 
  • Changes in sleep and appetite 
  • Unexplained aches, pain, or illness 
  • Irritability or anger for no reason 
  • Sudden mood changes 
  • Poor concentration and difficulty remembering things 
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and hopelessness 
  • Recurrent thoughts of death and suicide 
  • Lack of pleasure in things that were earlier enjoyable 
  • Feeling disconnected with the baby 

Causes 

Postnatal depression (PND) is believed to be caused by a complex interplay of environmental, emotional, hormonal, and genetic factors. Hormonal changes after childbirth, such as a drop in hormone levels, can contribute to PND. Emotional factors, including stress from relationship issues or the demands of caring for a newborn, can also play a role. Genetic predisposition, as evidenced by a family history of depression, can increase the risk. Additionally, certain environmental factors, such as complications during childbirth or stressful events during pregnancy, can trigger PND. Substance use disorder is another potential contributing factor. 

Interventions 

Interventions for postnatal depression (PND) typically involve a combination of psychological therapies, medication, lifestyle changes, and support groups. Psychological interventions such as cognitive behavioural therapy, interpersonal therapy, counselling, and psychodynamic therapy can be effective in managing PND. Medications like antidepressants are often used to manage the symptoms. Lifestyle changes, including ensuring adequate sleep, nutrition, exercise, and overall support, can also be beneficial. Joining support groups can provide a platform to share feelings and experiences. Regular check-ins with healthcare providers are crucial for monitoring progress and adjusting treatment plans as necessary.