What is a Panic Attack?
A panic attack can be a very frightening thing.
Some sufferers feel as if they are choking or having a heart attack.
But knowing what's going on can go a long way in helping you cope with such an attack.
Here is what a panic attack is, and some of its possible causes and symptoms.
What Is a Panic Attack?
When you experience sudden, terrifying feelings of fear over which you have no control, it may be a panic attack.
Such feelings are often accompanied by physical sensations, such as pain in the chest or abdomen or a feeling of suffocation and choking.
Panic attacks are often a symptom of an anxiety disorder.
As noted above, panic attacks are often a manifestation of an underlying disorder.
Thus, to find the cause(s) of the attack, doctors and therapists must look at causal factors of the disorder.
Sometimes, panic attacks don't have any apparent cause or may have specific triggers.
For example, you may experience a panic attack every time you try to get into an elevator or drive under a bridge.
The elevator and the bridge are not causing the attacks, but something about your perception of them is. Thus, there is an underlying anxiety or fear that needs to be addressed.
The original hierarchy of needs five-stage model includes:
Maslow (1943, 1954) stated that people are motivated to achieve certain needs and that some needs take precedence over others.
Our most basic need is for physical survival, and this will be the first thing that motivates our behaviour. Once that level is fulfilled the next level up is what motivates us, and so on.
1. Physiological needs - these are biological requirements for human survival, e.g. air, food, drink, shelter, clothing, warmth, sex, sleep.
If these needs are not satisfied the human body cannot function optimally. Maslow considered physiological needs the most important as all the other needs become secondary until these needs are met.
2. Safety needs - Once an individual’s physiological needs are satisfied, the needs for security and safety become salient. People want to experience order, predictability and control in their lives. These needs can be fulfilled by the family and society (e.g. police, schools, business and medical care).
For example, emotional security, financial security (e.g. employment, social welfare), law and order, freedom from fear, social stability, property, health and wellbeing (e.g. safety against accidents and injury).
3. Love and belongingness needs - after physiological and safety needs have been fulfilled, the third level of human needs is social and involves feelings of belongingness. The need for interpersonal relationships motivates behaviour
Examples include friendship, intimacy, trust, and acceptance, receiving and giving affection and love. Affiliating, being part of a group (family, friends, work).
4. Esteem needs are the fourth level in Maslow’s hierarchy - which Maslow classified into two categories:
(i) esteem for oneself (dignity, achievement, mastery, independence)
(ii) the desire for reputation or respect from others (e.g., status, prestige).
Maslow indicated that the need for respect or reputation is most important for children and adolescents and precedes real self-esteem or dignity.
5. Self-actualization needs are the highest level in Maslow's hierarchy, and refer to the realization of a person's potential, self-fulfilment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences. Maslow (1943) describes this level as the desire to accomplish everything that one can, to become the most that one can be.
It is important to seek treatment early for eating disorders. People with eating disorders are at higher risk for suicide and medical complications. Some people with eating disorders may also have other mental disorders (such as depression or anxiety) or problems with substance use.
Treatment plans for eating disorders include psychotherapy, medical care and monitoring, nutritional counselling, medications, or a combination of these approaches. Typical treatment goals include restoring adequate nutrition, bringing weight to a healthy level, reducing excessive exercise, and stopping binge-purge and binge-eating behaviours. Complete recovery is possible.
Specific forms of psychotherapy (or “talk therapy”) and cognitive behavioural approaches can be effective for treating specific eating disorders. For more about psychotherapies.
Research also suggests that medications may help treat some eating disorders and co-occurring anxiety or depression related to eating disorders. Information about medications changes frequently, so talk to your health care professional.
The American Psychiatric Association identifies three different categories of phobias:
- social phobias
- specific phobias
When people talk about having a phobia of a specific object such as snakes, spiders or needles, they are referring to a specific phobia.
Extraordinary advances have been made in the treatment of mental illness. As a result, many mental health disorders can now be treated nearly as successfully as physical disorders.
Most treatment methods for mental health disorders can be categorized as either
Somatic treatments include drugs, electroconvulsive therapy, and other therapies that stimulate the brain (such as transcranial magnetic stimulation and vagus nerve stimulation).
Psychotherapeutic treatments include psychotherapy (individual, group, or family and marital), behavior therapy techniques (such as relaxation training or exposure therapy), and hypnotherapy.
Most studies suggest that for major mental health disorders, a treatment approach involving both drugs and psychotherapy is more effective than either treatment method used alone.
Psychiatrists are not the only mental health care practitioners trained to treat mental illness. Others include clinical psychologists, advanced practice nurses, and social workers. However, psychiatrists (and psychiatric nurse practitioners in some states) are the only mental health care practitioners licensed to prescribe drugs.
Other mental health care practitioners practice psychotherapy primarily. Many primary care doctors and other types of doctors also prescribe drugs to treat mental health disorders.
Stress is an unavoidable part of modern life for many, and people have learned to use all sorts of activities - from meditation to mindfulness colouring - to combat its effects.
These management techniques are helpful, and sometimes essential, but it is also important to understand how stress -a natural phenomenon - is created and the role it plays, so you can learn to self-regulate and avoid its side effects.
Why Living in the Now Helps You Live a Better, More Successful Life
Everyone wants a better, more successful life.
The key to having that is found in living in the now.
You’ll hear people talk about living in the now but it can be something that’s difficult to define…
What Does It Mean to Live in the Now?
Living in the now means you maintain your focus on the present moment. It means that you don’t look to the past. Dwelling on the past is one of the reasons that so many people find themselves unhappy. You might be feeling like you wasted years of your life being in a certain relationship.
You might struggle with feelings of inferiority when looking at the past because you think of the life that you should have led. You might worry that the life you’ve had wasn’t productive enough. Maybe all you can see are missed opportunities. This leads to a struggle with regret.
Sometimes, this discontent leads to a struggle with shame.
All that looking backward at the past does is to make you feel regret, nostalgia, or wish that you could rewind time to go back.
You might think that if only you could go back in time, you could change things and have a better life.
“If only” thinking leads to deep dissatisfaction with the life that you have now. It can lead to feelings of grief and that can turn into depression. Looking toward the past is detrimental to living in the now. It can steal your present happiness.
Accept the past for what it is. It made you who you are and gave you the strength and wisdom you now have. Appreciate it, but don’t let it be your focus.
If you’re looking to the future, that’s not living in the now either.
When you live with what could be or focus on the future, you can get stuck in judgment.
This can lead to not accepting yourself in the now or the life that you’ve built, which causes deep unhappiness.
It’s okay to look forward to the future and to plan for it, but not to the extent that it prevents you from being present in the moment.
Living in the now is something that you want to strive for. It can be useful during times of stress or crisis when you keep your focus on the present.
You won’t find yourself worrying about what has happened or what could happen.
You’ll be able to develop an attitude of handling a problem as it arises rather than living in a state of bracing for something to happen.
Not only can living in the now help you in times of stress and crisis but also just in managing day-to-day life.
You’ll be able to take imperfections for what they are rather than allowing them to blossom into big deals. You’ll be able to appreciate the little things. You’ll stop measuring yourself and focus on self-love.
12 Reasons to Live in the Now
There are many reasons to live in the now.
Doing so can improve every area of your life.
You’ll live happier and in greater freedom from things that would normally weigh you down or hold you back.
Here are the reasons why you need to live in the now…
Reason #1: You’ll feel better emotionally.
When you live in the now, your focus is on what you have, not what you lost, what was, or what will be. You won’t waste your precious hours dwelling on anything. You won’t live in discontentment and focus on what’s going to be.
You’ll simply be open to life as it’s happening to you.
When you do this, you’ll find that your joy in life is magnified.
You’ll smile more often and you won’t have that feeling that the world is sitting on your shoulders.
You won’t feel like you’re burning the candle at both ends.
Instead of just existing, you’ll be living life to the fullest.
Reason #2: Your mental energy won’t be wasted.
It can be exhausting having your thoughts jump through the hoops of “what if…” or “if only I had…”
which in turn leads to physical fatigue. When you guide your thoughts to living in the now, you’ll discover that you don’t waste energy dwelling on things that don’t matter.
You’ll gain freedom from pressure and worry.
Reason #3: Living in the now can rid your life of chaos.
You won’t find yourself reacting to things anxiously or fearfully. You’ll have a sense of peace and well-being even during the times that something is going wrong.
You’ll feel this way because you’ll understand that living in the moment means that whatever is going on is current and doesn’t mean it’s always going to be that way.
You’ll know that chaos is transient and doesn’t have the power to steal your peace of mind unless you give it control.
Reason #4: When you live in the now, it boosts your self-esteem.
You’ll have the self-assurance and understand that you’re fully capable of handling your life.
The way that you approach situations and others will change. You’ll be aware of your strength and wisdom and you’ll know that you’re prepared to deal with each thing as it arises.
Reason #5: Your understanding will increase.
When you live in the now, you’ll have a deeper understanding of what’s right and which direction to go when you need to make a decision. Many decisions are made out of fear of what might happen in the future rather than weighing the truth of the options at hand.
Reason #6: Being present alters who you are.
You won’t be stressed out or worrying all the time. You’ll take things moment by moment.
Your reactions will be formed out of living in what is. Because of this, you’ll discover that other people will be drawn to you. They will be drawn to your positivity, your calm outlook on life. They’ll see your peace.
The people that are drawn to you will be ones that support you and give back rather than people that act as emotional drainers.
Reason #7: You’ll accept the forks in the road.
When change occurs, whether unexpected or planned, you’ll know that everything is going to work out. You won’t waste time or mental energy feeling like you didn’t get what you deserved.
You won’t go through life expecting things because you’ll be focused on what you have with a positive, thankful attitude.
If something does go wrong, you’ll be able to take it in stride. It won’t shake your belief in yourself or in the goodness of your life.
Reason #8: You’ll stop trying to be perfect.
When you stop trying to orchestrate what happens to you or what unfolds in your life, you’ll realize that the now is what you have before you. You’ll stop being focused on planning your life to perfection.
When you live in the now, you won’t worry if something goes on that you didn’t plan. Every time life throws you a curveball, you’ll be able to accept it and still live happy, rather than getting caught up in what “should have” been.
Reason #9: Living in the now can add years to your life.
That’s because you don’t let stress ruin your life. You don’t allow the negatives and things you can’t control to become a roadblock. Stress tends crops up when you don’t focus on the moment. Perfectionism when planning the future is an example of this.
Many people want to erase bumps, roadblocks, and distractions from their goal planning because they want the perfect future. This strategy doesn’t allow for changes or failures. When it happens, they start to worry about what it means to their future and how they’re going to fix things.
When you start focusing on the future whether things have gone wrong or not, gently bring your thoughts back to the present.
Being aware of the current moment keeps you from stressing on the moments that haven’t even happened.
Reason #10: Practicing living in the now because it gives you a positive outlook.
When you have a positive outlook, you have a stronger tendency to see life as good and you expect good. When you expect good, your emotions follow suit. Your thoughts can change the emotional landscape of your life.
Reason #11: Living in the now brings balance to your life.
You’ll discover that you can go through life trustfully knowing on a conscious level that what your life is as it should be. In addition, you’ll develop a faith that your present moment is exactly where you’re supposed to be.
When your life is in balance, it means that what’s important to you will be able to be center stage. You won’t miss the opportunities life gives you.
These opportunities may show up in hundreds of different ways. Such as paying full attention to the conversation of a child, picking up the nonverbal cues given to you by your partner or being in tune to your own needs or the needs of someone else.
Reason #12: You’ll stop using a subconscious script when you live in the now.
Too many people overanalyze their lives and waste their moments trying to decide what’s really going on. Living in the moment allows you to take things and people at face value.
You won’t second-guess their actions or motives.
How Living in the Now Strengthens Your Relationships
Everyone wants to have healthy strong relationships but not many people know that living in the now is exactly how you develop those types of relationships. It’s all about what you choose to focus on in the relationship that makes all the difference in the world.
Being fully present lets you look at the foundation of your relationships and allows you to be nurturing rather than wasting time and effort trying to fix what you believe is wrong with the other person.
When you’re living in the now, you develop a deeper level of kindness and connection toward the other person.
Rather than rehashing and reacting to what you perceive are flaws—or even what irritates you about the other person—living in the now lets you become accepting. When you accept other people as they are, they tend not to be as defensive. Their guard is lowered and true bonds can be formed.
You’ll be able to grow within the relationship. As a result, you can change the tone of the interactions you have with those you care about.
When you live in the present, you have relationships where loving honesty is at the forefront. This allows the relationship to flourish. So if you’re ready to nurture your relationships, here’s what you can do to strengthen your bond today…
Practice paying attention.
When the other person is speaking, give them your full focus. When you multitask as someone is talking to you, it makes them feel like they’re not important enough for your full attention.
By giving half of your attention away when someone else needs you to be present, you’re robbing yourself and them of the full benefit and enjoyment of your relationship. However, when you pay attention, you’re living in the moment. This deepens the level of the relationship and allows you to feel closer to the other person.
Check your emotions by being in the present.
When you’re in the present, you’re not allowing the emotions from the past to interfere with your relationship. Constantly holding onto things that bothered you then allowing those things to remain in your thoughts or to come out during an argument can erode the relationship over time.
Your emotions become heightened when you carry past baggage into the present. You end up saying things that you may not truly mean. This happens because you’re not speaking with present emotions but with past ones. Checking your emotions allows you to break the circle of constantly fighting over the same things.
Use living in the moment to guide you on how to deal with relationships now. Look for self-teaching moments. This is when you stop and check in with yourself.
Ask what the best way is to handle the situation.
Look to see if you reacted emotionally and created friction rather than acted mindfully and created peace.
What checking yourself does is boost the strength of the relationship. You’re not busy looking at what the other person is doing. Instead, you’re focusing on what your responsibility is.
Being mindful enables you to control and manage your feelings and actions. It also means you don’t have to be in control of the outcome of the relationship. You’re free to let it evolve.
In the end, the only person you’re capable of changing or improving is yourself. When you focus on strengthening the relationship, it lets the other person “off the hook.” Taking off that pressure prompts others to feel better and react differently toward you.
Create the future you want.
When you behave mindfully in any relationship, it shapes how it will be in the future. Many people have hopes of loving, fulfilling, relationships but don’t realize that today’s behaviors and words create that. If you want to love and peace, you have to plant and cultivate those seeds.
Let go of your expectations.
Living in the moment makes you let other people off the hook. People won’t follow the script that you have in your head. They won’t react as kindly or as romantically as you had hoped and sometimes, this can be painful.
When you keep your focus on the now, it lets you see past the surface of that person’s response.
You’ll develop empathy and realize that the other person is under stress or they’re worried or something is going on that has absolutely nothing to do with you.
Being mindful allows you to take a step back to see the truth.
Own up to what’s happening.
Living in the now helps you to deal with whatever issues are going on in a relationship rather than ducking it. Every relationship has flaws because humans have flaws. Some flaws can be so big that if not dealt with, it can wreck the relationship.
You can strengthen it by approaching the other person with your feelings now mindset. This helps you not to lay blame and use words that are guaranteed to make the other person defensive like “You always” which is accusatory.
Instead, living in the now will help you to address other calmly.
You’ll be able to change the tone by saying, “Right now, I feel let down,” and that enables the conversation to start and the situation to be resolved.
Set your intention each day.
Let mindfulness make you more forgiving toward those in your life that you care about. When you get up each morning, think of two things that you can do to help the relationship grow closer.
This might be two acts of kindness such as leaving a caring voicemail, writing a note or simply saying, “I love you and I’m on your side.”
Your relationships take work.
However, living in the now makes it easier to strengthen your bond and build the relationship you’ve always dreamed of.
Sleep and mental health are closely connected. Sleep deprivation affects your psychological state and mental health. And those with mental health problems are more likely to have insomnia or other sleep disorders.
Those with psychiatric conditions are even more likely to be yawning or groggy during the day. Chronic sleep problems affect 50% to 80% of patients in a typical psychiatric practice, compared with 10% to 18% of adults in the general population. Sleep problems are particularly common in patients with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Traditionally, clinicians treating patients with psychiatric disorders have viewed insomnia and other sleep disorders as symptoms. But studies in both adults and children suggest that sleep problems may raise the risk for, and even directly contribute to, the development of some psychiatric disorders.
This research has a clinical application, because treating a sleep disorder may also help alleviate symptoms of a co-occurring mental health problem.
The brain basis of a mutual relationship between sleep and mental health is not yet completely understood. But neuroimaging and neurochemistry studies suggest that a good night's sleep helps foster both mental and emotional resilience, while chronic sleep deprivation sets the stage for negative thinking and emotional vulnerability.
· Sleep problems are more likely to affect patients with psychiatric disorders than people in the general population.
· Sleep problems may increase risk for developing mental illnesses, as well as result from such disorders.
· Treating sleep disorder may help alleviate symptoms of the mental health problem.
How sleep affects mental health
Every 90 minutes, a normal sleeper cycle between two major categories of sleep — although the length of time spent in one or the other changes as sleep progresses.
During "quiet" sleep, a person progresses through four stages of increasingly deep sleep. Body temperature drops, muscles relax, and heart rate and breathing slow.
The deepest stage of quiet sleep produces physiological changes that help boost immune system functioning.
The other sleep category, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, is the period when people dream. Body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing increase to levels measured when people are awake.
Studies report that REM sleep enhances learning and memory and contributes to emotional health — in complex ways.
Although scientists are still trying to tease apart all the mechanisms, they have discovered that sleep disruption — which affects levels of neurotransmitters and stress hormones, among other things — wreaks havoc in the brain, impairing thinking and emotional regulation.
In this way, insomnia may amplify the effects of psychiatric disorders and vice versa.
Psychological effects of sleep deprivation
More than 70 types of sleep disorders exist. The most common problems are insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep), Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) (disordered breathing that causes multiple awakenings), various movement syndromes (unpleasant sensations that prompt night fidgeting), and narcolepsy (extreme sleepiness or falling asleep suddenly during the day).
Type of sleep disorder, prevalence, and impact vary by psychiatric diagnosis. But the overlap between sleep disorders and various psychiatric problems is so great that researchers have long suspected both types of problems may have common biological roots.
Depression. Studies using different methods and populations estimate that 65% to 90% of adult patients with major depression, and about 90% of children with this disorder, experience sleep problem. Most patients with depression have insomnia, but about one in five suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea.
Insomnia and other sleep problems also increase the risk of developing depression. A longitudinal study of about 1,000 adults ages 21 to 30 enrolled in a Michigan health maintenance organization found that, compared with normal sleepers, those who reported a history of insomnia during an interview in 1989 were four times as likely to develop major depression by the time of a second interview three years later.
And two longitudinal studies in young people — one involving 300 pairs of young twins, and another including 1,014 teenagers — found that sleep problems developed before major depression did.
Insomnia and other sleep problems affect outcomes for patients with depression. Studies report that depressed patients who continue to experience insomnia are less likely to respond to treatment than those without sleep problems.
Even patients whose mood improves with antidepressant therapy are more at risk for a relapse of depression later. Depressed patients who experience insomnia or other sleep disturbances are more likely to think about suicide and die by suicide than depressed patients who can sleep normally.
Bipolar disorder. Studies in different populations report that 69% to 99% of patients experience insomnia or report less need for sleep during a manic episode of bipolar disorder. In bipolar depression, however, studies report that 23% to 78% of patients sleep excessively (hypersomnia), while others may experience insomnia or restless sleep.
Longitudinal studies suggest that insomnia and other sleep problems worsen before an episode of mania or bipolar depression, and lack of sleep can trigger mania. Sleep problems also adversely affect mood and contribute to relapse.
Anxiety disorders. Sleep problems affect more than 50% of adult patients with generalized anxiety disorder, are common in those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and may occur in panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias.
They are also common in children and adolescents. One sleep laboratory study found that youngsters with an anxiety disorder took longer to fall asleep, and slept less deeply when compared with a control group of healthy children.
Insomnia may also be a risk factor for developing an anxiety disorder, but not as much as it is for major depression. In the longitudinal study of teenagers mentioned earlier, for example, sleep problems preceded anxiety disorders 27% of the time, while they preceded depression 69% of the time.
But insomnia can worsen the symptoms of anxiety disorders or prevent recovery. Sleep disruptions in PTSD, for example, may contribute to retention of negative emotional memories and prevent patients from benefiting from fear-extinguishing therapies.
ADHD. Various sleep problems affect 25% to 50% of children with ADHD. Typical problems include difficulty falling asleep, shorter sleep duration, and restless slumber. The symptoms of ADHD and sleeping difficulties overlap so much it may be difficult to tease them apart.
Sleep-disordered breathing affects up to 25% of children with ADHD, and restless legs syndrome or a periodic limb movement disorder, which also disrupt sleep, combined affect up to 36%.
Children with these sleeping disorders may become hyperactive, inattentive, and emotionally unstable — even when they do not meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD.
Sleep and mental health lifestyle changes
In some respects, the treatment recommended for the most common sleep problem, insomnia, is the same for all patients, regardless of whether they also suffer from psychiatric disorders. The fundamentals are a combination of lifestyle changes, behavioural strategies, psychotherapy, and drugs if necessary.
Lifestyle changes. Most people know that caffeine contributes to sleeplessness, but so can alcohol and nicotine. Alcohol initially depresses the nervous system, which helps some people fall asleep, but the effects wear off in a few hours and people wake up.
Nicotine is a stimulant, which speeds heart rate and thinking. Giving up these substances is best but avoiding them before bedtime is another option.
Physical activity. Regular aerobic activity helps people fall asleep faster, spend more time in deep sleep, and awaken less often during the night.
Sleep hygiene. Many experts believe that people learn insomnia and can learn how to sleep better. Good "sleep hygiene" is the term often used to include tips like maintaining a regular sleep-and-wake schedule, using the bedroom only for sleeping or sex, and keeping the bedroom dark and free of distractions like the computer or television.
Some experts also recommend sleep retraining: staying awake longer in order to ensure sleep is more restful.
Relaxation techniques. Meditation, guided imagery, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation (alternately tensing and releasing muscles) can counter anxiety and racing thoughts.
Cognitive behavioural therapy. Because people with insomnia tend to become preoccupied with not falling asleep, cognitive behavioural techniques help them to change negative expectations and try to build more confidence that they can have a good night's sleep.
These techniques can also help to change the "blame game" of attributing every personal problem during the day on lack of sleep.
Complementary and alternative therapies are increasingly popular in the UK and they are used by a growing number of mental health service users/ survivors.
This module explores what is meant by 'complementary and alternative' approaches. What kinds of activities does this term encompass?
What do such approaches 'complement'? And what might they be an 'alternative' to?
As well as exploring what they are, this unit also looks at some of the explanations for the growing popularity of complementary and alternative approaches.
It examines the current evidence base for them in the context of the growing emphasis on 'evidence-based medicine'.
The benefits of some complementary and alternative approaches for mental health service users/survivors and goes on to consider why such approaches may be particularly appealing given the negative experiences many people have of conventional medical interventions.
As well as exploring the benefits, the unit also outlines some of the potential pitfalls in the use of complementary and alternative therapies for mental health service users/survivors and highlights the issue of regulation in this area.
The first activity gives you an opportunity to start thinking about what is meant by 'complementary and alternative therapies'.
Talking therapies or treatments range from 'brief supporting discussions with a person who has no formal qualifications, to intensive work over a period of months or even years with a highly trained practitioner' (Coppock and Hopton, 2000, p. 133).
Whether it is short- or long-term, individual or group-based, informal or formal, professional or lay, talking therapy is based on the notion that 'it's good to talk'.
The assumption is that it is through the process of talking about events and experiences that people develop an awareness of, and insight into, the sources of their distress.
Understanding the causes, the sources or even the signals of mental distress can be beneficial to people in managing their lives.
Talking therapies are the most sought-after forms of help by mental health service users/survivors yet remains relatively scarce within overall NHS provision.
The Department of Health acknowledges the importance of talking therapy:
In an ideal world, all mental health services users should be offered some form of talking therapy or simply the opportunity to talk to someone, as the main part of their treatment.
The world is far from ideal, of course, and even having 'the opportunity to talk to someone' may be beyond the reach of many people experiencing mental distress.
The next step from this is to have access to some sort of talking therapy.
This means talking in a more focused way to someone outside your immediate family and social network. In many instances, this is beneficial because the listener/therapist has no axe to grind and can, therefore, listen with an open mind.
Emerging evidence supports a role for certain dietary factors in brain health, opening up new potential avenues for prevention of dementia and depression in older adults.
A disability is any continuing condition that restricts everyday activities. The Disability Services Act (1993) defines ‘disability’ as meaning a disability:
- which is attributable to an intellectual, psychiatric, cognitive, neurological, sensory or physical impairment or a combination of those impairments
- which is permanent or likely to be permanent
- which may or may not be of a chronic or episodic nature
- which results in substantially reduced capacity of the person for communication, social interaction, learning or mobility and a need for continuing support services.
With the assistance of appropriate aids and services, the restrictions experienced by many people with a disability may be overcome.
Types of disability
The main categories of disability are physical, sensory, psychiatric, neurological, cognitive and intellectual. Many people with disability have multiple disabilities.
A physical disability is the most common type of disability, followed by intellectual and sensory disability. Physical disability generally relates to disorders of the musculoskeletal, circulatory, respiratory and nervous systems.
Sensory disability involves impairments in hearing and vision.
Neurological and cognitive disability includes acquired disability such as multiple sclerosis or traumatic brain injury. Intellectual disability includes intellectual and developmental disability which relate to difficulties with thought processes, learning, communicating, remembering information and using it appropriately, making judgments and problem-solving. Intellectual disability is the result of interaction between developmentally attributable cognitive impairment, attitudinal and environmental barriers.
Psychiatric disorders resulting in disability may include anxiety disorders, phobias or depression.