Topic 3 Mental health issues

Some of the most common conditions former prisoners suffer from are:

  • Post traumatic stress disorder
  • Anxiety/stress
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse

Post traumatic stress disorder

  • A mental health condition, where people experience a variety of symptoms after the exposure to a traumatic event.
  • Most common symptoms include
    • Flashbacks
    • Re-living the traumatic event
    • Nightmares
    • Intrusive thoughts
    • Anxiety
    • Avoidance
    • Changes in mood and thinking

Coping PTSD:

  • Identify the triggers – try to think when PTSD symptoms comes up, in what type of situations, how your body reacts. Take a paper and write everything down.
  • Coping with triggers – internal triggers such as emotions and thoughts are difficult to control, however external triggers e.g. a specific place or event, is something that can be avoided if it works as a trigger
  • Work on effective coping strategies e.g. relaxation techniques, grounding, deep breathing, expressive writing –stress management courses can help
  • Before identifying factors, have a safety plan. You can learn more about it here


  • Common mental health issue, a mood disorder, much more than sadness
  • Most common symptoms include:
    • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
    • Loss of interest
    • Appetite or weight changes
    • Sleep changes
    • Loss of energy
    • Anger or irritability
    • Self-loathing
    • Concentration problems
    • Unexplained aches and pains

Treating depression

  • Depression, even in most serious cases can be treated.
  • Early diagnosis and immediate search for professional support is very critical for an effective treatment treatment.
  • Through psychotherapy, or discussion therapy, individually or in a group through which the individual can identify the negative or twisted thoughts and turn them into positive, in order to better cope with challenges and reduce potential stress.
  • Through prescribed medication, which can improve the individual’s mood and reduce stress, always with the guidance of a health professional regarding the type of medication, the dosage and the duration of the treatment.
  • Through a combination of psychotherapy and prescribed medication.

General advice for treating depression– Beyond therapy

Reaching out to a mental health professional is absolutely necessary for treating depression. At the same time, the individual can follow some techniques which can offer relief and reduce depressive symptoms.

Some of these techniques are:

✔ Balanced diet, intake of necessary vitamins, especially Vitamin D

✔ Regular physical activity

✔ Limited use of alcohol and caffeine

✔ Quality sleep