CYP - Mental Health Services - Islington CAMHS - A-Z - IntroductionWe understand that no one likes to be labelled, however categorising difficulties in this way can mean that we may be able to understand someone’s behaviours in an easier way and also find the best solution for you.

Anger Difficulties

We may all feel angry at times; it’s a natural emotional response to many things. Anger is a powerful emotion and releasing the pressure that builds inside you can be essential to deal with problems and move on. But if anger isn’t dealt with in a healthy way, it can have a significant effect on your daily life, relationships, achievements and mental well-being.


Anorexia Nervosa is a type of eating disorder. People with Anorexia Nervosa struggle to eat enough, because they may feel that their problems are associated with what they look like and by controlling their weight, it may mean to them that they can control other aspects of their lives. Beat is the leading charity for eating disorders and their website can give you more information.


Anxiety can be classed as worries, fears and phobias. Everyone gets worried and frightened by things from time to time, but these concerns can begin to be a problem if they start to take over and interfere with everyday life and activities.
Panic is defined as a sudden unexpected surge of anxiety which makes you want to leave the worrying situation. Phobias are fears of a situation or something that isn’t dangerous and which most people don’t find troublesome. Anxiety UK has lots of useful information on its website about anxiety and anxiety disorders.

ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

ADHD is a condition that affects how well someone can sit still, focus, and pay attention. People with ADHD have differences in the parts of their brains that control attention and activity and impulsivity…
Common symptoms of ADHD include:
  • a short attention span
  • restlessness or constant fidgeting
  • being easily distracted
There is a team an ADHD pathway within CAMHS. Please click here for more information on the Complex Assessment, ADHD and Behaviour Pathway.

Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

A developmental disorder is something that people acquire before, during or soon after birth. Autism Spectrum Disorder is a type of developmental disorder. There are no simple medical tests that can diagnose Autism. Professionals will make a diagnosis by gathering information from multiple sources about how a child or young person behaves and communicates.
Autism is a condition that can affect children’s development in the following areas (these can also occur in other conditions):
  • Communication
  • Understanding other people
  • Understanding social rules
  • Understanding emotions
  • Imagination and flexibility
  • Sensory processing: e.g. light, sound, texture
Autism is commonly referred to as a spectrum condition. This means there can be a wide variety of strengths and difficulties. All children with Autism have strengths and there are a number of skills and strategies they can learn so that they manage their difficulties better. The National Autistic Society website has lots of useful information.
See more information on our Neuro Developmental Team

Alcohol Misuse

Alcoholism describes the condition where people get addicted to alcohol, and use it to escape other problems in their lives. Alcoholism is when social drinking changes into more regular, addictive patterns. Drink Aware and Don’t Bottle it Up have lots of information on alcohol and how to help someone who you think may be drinking too much.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder was previously known as manic depression. People with the disorder can fluctuate between feeling very depressed, to being very happy and excited, which is also known as mania. In between this they can seem relatively calm.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)

Body Dysmorphic Disorder affects people and the way they view themselves. It can lead people to become obsessed and preoccupied with their appearance, focusing on minor imperfections they may feel they have.

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Borderline Personality Disorder can cause a wide range of symptoms such as:
  • Difficulties making and maintaining relationships
  • Having an unstable sense of identity (such as thinking differently about yourself depending on who you are with)
  • Self harm or thoughts of self harm
  • Experiencing emotions that are up and down
  • Believing in things that are not real or true or seeing and hearing things that are not really there



Bulimia Nervosa is a type of eating disorder. People with Bulimia Nervosa find it really hard to stick to a healthy, balanced eating pattern. They may constantly think of calories, dieting and ways of getting rid of excess food. Many people will binge (over eat) and then feel guilty so will make themselves sick, starve themselves, take laxatives or over-exercise.

Conduct Disorder

All children and teens will disobey adults at times. It takes time for children to learn to behave and the occasional outburst is a normal part of growing up. Sudden outbursts of behaviour such as tantrums, refusing to do as they are told, hitting, kicking and breaking things are all normal signs of development if they occur infrequently and don’t violate the rights of others. However, some children and teens have serious behavioural problems that can last over a long period of time and can affect their ability to lead a normal life. When their behaviour becomes this much of a problem, it is called conduct disorder.


Most people feel sad or unhappy from time to time, however people suffering from depression feel very down. Everything may seem like too much effort and they may feel that they cannot shake off the constant feeling of unhappiness. They may start to think that they are useless and no good. Things that they may once have found fun, no longer make them happy and they can’t seem to laugh anymore. People with depression may spend long periods of time sleeping, or may not be able to sleep at all. They may also completely lose their appetite, or eat much more than they normally would.
There are lots of ways to help people with depression:
  • Research has shown that exercise can help depression by releasing powerful chemicals into the brain
  • Talking to someone they trust can help
  • Prescribed medication such as anti-depressants


Dissociative Disorder

Dissociative disorders can be caused by many things. For example, dissociation is a defence mechanism helping people to survive traumatic experiences. Studies show that a history of trauma, usually abuse in childhood, is almost universal for people who have moderate to severe dissociative symptoms.
There are five types of dissociation. These include:
  • Amnesia – where a person can’t remember incidents or experiences that happened at a particular time, or when they can’t remember important personal information
  • Depersonalisation – which is a feeling that your body is unreal, changing or dissolving. It also includes out-of-body experiences, such as seeing yourself as if watching a movie
  • Derealisation – where the world around you seems unreal. You may see objects changing in shape, size or colour, or you may feel that other people are robots
  • Identity confusion – where you feel uncertain about who you are
  • Identity alteration – where there is a shift in your role or identity that changes your behaviour in ways that others could notice. For instance, you may be very different at school from when you are at home. This would need to be much more extreme thanthe normal variation of behaviour that you would expect to see across different settings


Eating Disorder

An eating disorder is something which can take over someone’s eating habits, making them starve, over-eat, or sick. Eating disorders are very dangerous and can affect anyone.
Eating disorders may be ways of coping with feelings that make people feel unhappy or depressed. Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and compulsive over eating are all types of eating disorder.
Beat is a national charity which helps young people with eating disorders. Its website has lots of useful information and advice on how to deal with eating disorders.


Insomnia is a common condition where you either can’t sleep, or have trouble staying asleep for long enough. This can lead to you missing out on sleep and feeling tired during the day. Lifestyle changes such as relaxing before bedtime, eating your evening meal earlier and limiting your caffeine intake can help.

Mental Illness

Sometimes things go wrong with people’s physical health. They may catch a bug or become ill or they might get hurt in an accident. In the same way, people have problems with their mental health. There are different types of mental illnesses, such as depression, anxiety and eating-disorders.
People who have problems with their mental health may feel: sad, worried, confused, angry, in despair, hopeless, tearful, scared, irritable, panicky, numb or guilty.
There are some things you may notice about someone who has a mental health problem:
  • some people do or say strange things
  • they may hear or see things that nobody else can
  • they may seem sad or cross all the time
  • they may seem tired of have amazing amounts of energy
  • they may hold strange beliefs
  • they may believe someone or something is trying to harm them, so will seem scared all the time


OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a anxiety-related condition. OCD can take many forms, but, in general, sufferers experience repetitive, intrusive and unwelcome thoughts, images, impulses and doubts which they find hard to ignore. These thoughts form the obsessional part of ‘Obsessive-Compulsive’ and they usually (but not always) cause the person to perform repetitive compulsions to try to relieve themselves of the obsessions and neutralise the fear. OCD-UK is a national charity which helps people suffering with the condition.
For more information and self-help tips, please go to our resources section for young people and parents and carers.

Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD)

Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD) is as an ongoing pattern of anger-guided disobedience, hostility, and defiant behavior towards authority figures which goes beyond the bounds of normal childhood behaviour – if it begins to interfere significantly with everyday activities. Children suffering from this disorder may appear very stubborn and often angry. This may include behaviours such as trying to get other people in trouble, deliberately annoying people, loosing temper and arguing with adults.

Panic Attacks

Someone having a panic attack experiences a sudden and intense sensation of fear. They may feel they have lost control and feel desperate to get out of the situation that has triggered their anxiety.
Symptoms of panic attack include:
  • Rapid breathing
  • Feeling breathless
  • Sweating
  • Feeling very hot or cold
  • Feeling sick
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Tingling fingers
  • Shivering or shaking
  • Racing heart or irregular heartbeat


Personality Disorder

People with personality disorders may find it difficult to:
  • Make or keep relationships
  • Get on with people at work
  • Get on with friends and family
  • Keep out of trouble
  • Control their feelings or behaviour


A phobia is described as an irrational or excessive fear of an object or a situation. Some common phobias are: claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces) and arachnophobia (fear of spiders).

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder describes symptoms people may experience after a traumatic event takes place. It can also be described as a delayed reaction to the trauma of going through a bad experience.
Symptoms can include:
  • Vivid flashbacks (feeling as if the trauma is happening all over again)
  • Intrusive thoughts and images
  • Nightmares
  • Intense distress at real or symbolic reminders of the trauma
  • Repressing memories (being unable to remember aspects of the event)
  • Feeling detached, cut off and emotionally numb
  • Being unable to express affection
  • Feeling there’s no point in planning for the future
Mind has lots of information and advice on its website.
For more information and self-help tips, please go to our resources section for young people and parents and carers.


Psychosis symptoms can vary greatly from person to person and a number of symptoms can be experienced, such as: hallucinations, confused thoughts and trouble knowing what is real and what is not.

Pervasive Refusal Syndrome

Pervasive Refusal Syndrome is a rare disorder which is characteristed by the refusal to eat, drink, talk, walk or self-care, and a firm resistance to treatment, without having any medical explanation. Most common distinctive features with this disorder are; the refusal to eat, weight loss, social withdrawal and school refusal.
For more information go to –


Schizophrenia is a disorder which affects thinking, feeling and behaviour. It usually starts between the ages of 15 to 35 and affects about one in every 100 people during their lifetime.
Symptoms are divided into ‘positive’ and ‘negative’.
Positive symptoms, these describe a change in behaviour:
  • difficulty thinking
  • feeling controlled
  • hallucinations
  • delusions
Negative symptoms, these describe the loss of thoughts, actions and feelings:
  • loss of interest, energy and emotions
  • some people hear voices without negative symptoms

School Refusal

School Refusal has previously been known as School Phobia, however the term was changed so that it reflected that children have difficulties attending school for many different reasons, and these reasons are not necessarily the same as a true phobia.
School refusal is different to truanting, as it is related to the refusal to go to school due to emotional difficulties, such as fear or anxiety, towards going to school. The difference between school refusal and truanting is that children who tend to truant generally don’t have any emotional difficulties towards school however often feel bored or angry with it, in comparison.


Some people use Self-harm as a way of expressing very deep distress. Often, people don’t know why they self-harm. For some people it can be a means of communicating what can’t be put into words or even into thoughts and has been described as an inner scream. Afterwards, people may feel better able to cope with life again, for a while.
Self-harm is a broad term. People may injure or poison themselves by scratching, cutting or burning their skin, by hitting themselves against objects, taking a drug overdose, or swallowing. It may also take less obvious forms, including unnecessary risks, staying in an abusive relationship, developing an eating problem (such as anorexia or bulimia), being addicted to alcohol or drugs, or someone simply not looking after their own emotional or physical needs.

Sleep Disorders

A good night’s sleep is very important for children and young people’s physical and emotional health. Children and young people need long periods of uninterrupted sleep for optimal growth and development, but sleep problems are very common – especially among younger children. Sustained periods of disturbed sleep have big impact on the whole family – on parents’ ability to function during the day and on other children. Problems with sleep may include a reluctance to go to sleep, waking up in the middle of the night, nightmares and sleep walking. Some children with special needs, such as those with autism, seem to have particular difficulties establishing consistent sleep patterns.

Substance Misuse

Drug addiction can relate to the excessive use of illegal drugs such as Cannabis, Cocaine and Heroin, or legal drugs that you would find on prescription. Talk to Frank is a national service for young people who are worried about drug addiction, it has an A – Z of drugs and a confidential helpline.

Tourettes Syndrome

Tourette’s Syndrome is an inherited, neurological disorder characterised by repeated and involuntary body movements (tics), and also uncontrollable vocal sounds. It is a fairly common childhood-onset condition that may be associated with features of many other conditions.
For more information please go to Tourettes Action.

Last updated12 Sep 2022
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