Useful Information


Addiction
Bereavement
Bullying
Cancer and Health issues
Depression
Domestic Violence
Emergency Numbers
Gender Issues
Mental Health
Self injury / Self harm
Sex and Relationships
Suicide
Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

This article has been written to give general background information about Addiction.  Additional information can be accessed from web site links shown below. Cyprus Samaritans can help by listening in confidence to anyone affected directly or indirectly by Addiction.

 

The term "addiction" is used in many contexts to describe an obsession, compulsion, or excessive physical or psychological dependence, such as , alcoholism, Internet addiction, money, work addiction, compulsive eating, gambling, psycho-sexual addiction, etc.

 

Definition.

The term "addiction" was used almost exclusively for substance addiction/misuse, namely people who were very dependent on prescriptive or illegal drugs, nicotine, or alcohol. That form of addiction is now known as "substance addiction/abuse".

 

Experts also recognize that people can become addicted to certain behaviour. Some individuals may develop a dependence on gambling, shopping, sexual activity, eating, or many other activities.

 

Addictions cause enormous personal harm not only to the addict, but distress to their families and friends as well.

 

People who become addicted to drugs may develop any number of health problems. They may also experience personality changes and lose the ability to interact with other people socially.

 

Addiction is also responsible for a host of social problems, because many addictions are expensive, addicts may turn to crime in order to fund their addiction.

 

Causes.

Addiction is a very complex behaviour. Experts have been trying to understand its causes for many years. At one time, moral weakness was accepted as the primary reason for addiction; nevertheless, health professionals no longer accept this theory.

 

Presently, researchers understand that a variety of factors can contribute to making a person an addict. Many events in a person's background may lead him or her to begin using addictive substances, some of these events include:

  • Use of illegal substances by family members and friends.
  • Poor family upbringing where love, warmth, praise, and acceptance are lacking.
  • Poverty, poor living conditions, or isolation from other people.
  • Failure in school.
  • Failure to develop the ability to get along with peers.
  • Frequent family moves to new homes.
  • Medical use of prescription drugs for legitimate reasons.

Addictions grow stronger over time. A person's body may become biologically dependent on the substance or behaviour.

 

People can also become psychologically addicted to substances and activities. That is,the substance or activity makes them feel happy, more self-confident,or better in some other way.

 

In order to keep experiencing these feelings, they believe they must continue to use the substance or activity that gave them these feelings. In this case, a person is said to be psychologically dependent.

 

In many cases, addictions involve both physiological and psychological aspects.

 

Symptoms.

All forms of addictions have some common symptoms, including:

  • Loss of control. Addicts are unable to manage their behaviour or their use of a substance.
  • Tolerance. In most forms of addiction, a person needs more and more of the substance or behaviour over time.
  • Impairment. Addicts often continue to use a substance or demonstrate behaviour even when they know the undesirable effects it may have. For example, a gambling addict may continue to wager money even though he or she has lost everything in previous gambling experiences.
 

Diagnoses.

Diagnosis of an addiction may be made by a medical doctor or by a mental health professional.

 

Often, people go for help because they feel they can no longer deal with their addictive behaviour by themselves.

 

Sometimes family or friends intervene and bring the person for diagnosis and treatment.

In some cases, individuals are brought to the attention of professionals because of legal problems related to their addiction.

 

Treatment.

There are many treatments available for people who suffer from addiction.

 

These treatments are designed to deal with one or both forms of addiction: physiological and psychological. For example, people who are addicted to certain substances must often go through withdrawal therapy.

 

Withdrawal therapy involves placing patients in rehabilitation centers where they have no access to the substance to which they are addicted. Withdrawal therapy can be very difficult.Medications are also available for treating some addictions, the best known is Methadone.

 

Talking therapies (psychotherapy or counselling) are also used to treat addictions. The theory behind therapy is that people become addicts because of serious problems in their lives. If those problems can be resolved, they may be less inclined to depend on addictive substances or behaviour.

 

Group counselling is another option. Perhaps the best-known example is the 12-step programmes originated by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Other groups working to overcome other types of addiction now use the AA 12-step model.

 

Prognosis.

The prognosis for addictions is varied. Many factors are involved in determining whether a person can recover from an addiction, including:

  • The substance or activity to which a person is addicted
  • The reasons for the addiction
  • The length of time the addiction has existed
  • The persons desire to be cured of the addiction
  • The amount and type of support available to the addict

Importantly however, recovery is likely to be partial and temporary unless underlying issues that led to the addiction have been resolved.

 

Dr Vasilios Silivistris DipSup DipComp BA MA FRSH MBACP PhD

 

Addiction/ Alcohol

www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk

www.drinkaware.co.uk

www.helpguide/mental/gambling_addiction.htm

www.ektepn.org.cy   (Site in Greek and English)

www.talktofrank.com  (General information about Drugs)

www.ash.org.uk

https://www.drugrehab.com/support/
https://www.drugrehab.com/addiction/
A History of Alcoholics Anonymous by Oliver Clark - this visual and auditory history of AA spans the period 1932-1971.
 

Cyprus Samaritans does not operate or control these sites and is not responsible for any of their content.  The existence of these links does not constitute an endorsement of the websites, nor the views expressed in them.  Your linking to these sites is entirely at your own risk.

This article has been written to give general background information about Bereavement. Additional information can be accessed from web site links shown below. Cyprus Samaritans can help by listening in confidence to anyone affected directly or indirectly by Bereavement and supporting them no matter how long or short the process.

 

BEREAVEMENT - THE PROCESS OF GRIEVING

 

Grief is Normal

When someone is bereaved, they usually experience an intense feeling of sorrow called grief. People grieve in order to accept a deeploss and carry on with their life. In my workwith bereaved clients, I believe that if you do not grieve at the time of death, or shortly after, the grief may stay bottled up inside you. This can lead to emotional problems and even physical illness later on. Working through grief can be a painful process, but it is often necessary to ensure future emotional and physical well-being.

 

The Stages of Grief

There is no single way to grieve. Everyone is different and each person grieves in his or her own way. However, people commonly experience some stages of grief when they are bereaved. There is no set timescale for reaching these stages, but it can help to know what the stages are ,and that intense emotions and swift changes in mood are normal. The stages of grief are not distinct, and there is usually some overlap between them.

 

Feeling emotionally numb is often the first reaction to a loss. This may last for a few hours, days or longer. In some ways, this numbness can help you get through the practical arrangements and family pressures that surround the funeral, but if this phase goes on for too long it can become a problem.

 

Numbness may be replaced by a deep yearning for the person who has died. You may feel agitated or angry, and find it difficult to concentrate, relax or sleep. You may also feel guilty, dwelling on arguments you had with that person or on emotions and words, you wished you had expressed.

 

This period of strong emotion usually gives way to bouts of intense sadness, silence and withdrawal from family and friends. Over time, the pain, sadness and depression start to lessen. You begin to see your life in a more positive light again. Although it is important to acknowledge there may always be a feeling of loss, you learn to live with it.

 

The final phase of grieving is to let go of the person who has died and carry on with your life. Your sleeping patterns and energy levels return to normal.

 

How Long Does Grieving Take?

The grieving process can take some time. In general, though, it usually take some to two years to recover from a major bereavement.

 

Coping with the Grieving Process

There are many things you can do to help yourself cope during this time. Ask for help and support from family, friends or even talk to a counsellor. Try to express whatever you are feeling, be it anger, guilt, shame or sadness.

 

What if You Are Not Coping?

Sometimes, the grieving process is especially difficult. Some find it impossible to acknowledge the bereavement at all. This sometimes happens after a miscarriage or abortion. It may also happen if you do not have time to grieve properly, perhaps because of work pressures or if you are looking after your family.

 

Others may be unable to move on from their grief, or may remain in the numb stages of grief, finding it hard to believe the person is dead. Such difficult grieving can lead to recurring bouts of depression, loss of appetite and even suicidal feelings.

 

Other circumstances around the death can lead to a difficult grieving process.

 

These can include:

  • a sudden or unexpected death
  • miscarriage or the death of a baby
  • death due to suicide
  • deaths where the bereaved may be responsible
  • Bereavement is probably one of the toughest things we have to face in life. It is a natural process of loss we have to experience as it makes us aware of our own mortality and those of our loved ones.

 

Dr Vasilios Silivistris DipSup DipComp BA MA FRSH MBACP PhD

www.cruseberevementcare.org.uk

www.uk-sobs.org.uk (survivors of bereavement by suicide)

www.wayfoundation.org.uk (for people who have lost a partner)

www.uk-sands.org (support for bereaved parents)

 

Cyprus Samaritans does not operate or control these sites and is not responsible for any of their content.  The existence of these links does not constitute an endorsement of the websites, nor the views expressed in them.  Your linking to these sites is entirely at your own risk.

This article has been written to give general background information to Parents about Bullying. Additional information can be accessed from web site links shown below, particularly for children who are experiencing bullying. Cyprus Samaritans can help by listening in confidence to anyone affected directly or indirectly by Bullying (in Cyprus the law only allows us to take calls from people over 17).

 

No parent likes to think about their child being bullied or, even worse, being a bully but the fact is, more than half of all children are involved – either as a perpetrator, victim or witness. So, there’s a good chance you’ll have to deal with it at some point.

 

YOUR CHILD IS BEING BULLIED: DO’S AND DON’TS

 

Three key things to do…

"Listen without getting angry or upset," says Sandra Hiller, Area Manager at Parentline Plus. "Put your own feelings aside, sit down and actually listen to what your child is telling you – then show you have done so by ‘playing back’ to them what you hear. Ask your child: "How do you want me to take this forward?" rather than just taking over so they don’t feel excluded from deciding what to do or end up even more stressed/worried than they were already.

 

Don’t charge off demanding to see the head teacher, the bully or the bully’s parents. This is usually the very reaction children dread and, according to ChildLine’s counsellors, can cause bullying to get worse.

 

Reassure your child it’s not their fault. There’s still a stigma attached to bullying and some children feel they’ve brought it upon themselves. Remind them that many celebrities have been bullied - boxer Joe Calzaghe is one of them: "I’m proud to be the Patron for the children's charity, Beatbullying (www.beatbullying.org)," he says. "I'm talking out now because I found it so impossible to speak up then.

 

I didn't know where to turn. Now I have a voice and I want to use it to tell kids who are being bullied that the fault is not with them. Be honest, don't be embarrassed, get help, and speak about it. Being bullied isn't about being weak and being a bully isn't about being strong.?

 

… And three things you shouldn’t…

"Never tell your child to hit or shout names back," says Sandra Hiller. "It simply doesn’t solve the problem and, if your child is under-confident (and most bullied children are) then it just adds to their stress and anxiety."

 

Never dismiss their experience: If your child has plucked up the courage to tell you about bullying, it’s crushing to be told to "sort it out yourself" or "it’s all part of growing up."

 

Don’t tell them to ignore it, warns Lyndall Horton-James, Bullying Prevention Education Consultant and author of 'Raising Bullywise Kids' (£10.50, Soaring Phoenix*). This only teaches them that bullying has to be tolerated, rather than stopped – and sets them up for further bullying in the future.

*These videos from www.parentchannel.tv offer helpful advice from parents of children affected by bullying:

 

Bullying 5-9: the advice

Look at some of the ways you can help your child to handle the situation, and what you can do to resolve things if your child is being bullied.

 

Bullying 5-9: the signs

Look at some the signs to be aware of that will allow you to support your child if you think they are being bullied.

 

Bullying 9-14

Take a look at some of the different types of bullying, including online ‘cyber-bullying’ – with tips on how to resolve the situation

 

Article by Michele O’Connor

www.bullying.co.uk

www.stopbullying.gov

Dr. Keenan has created this guide on How to Deal with Cyberbullying & Substance Abuse: https://www.inpatientdrugrehab.org/cyberbullying-substance-abuse/
 

Cyprus Samaritans does not operate or control these sites and is not responsible for any of their content.  The existence of these links does not constitute an endorsement of the websites, nor the views expressed in them.  Your linking to these sites is entirely at your own risk.

Being diagnosed with a serious illness, suffering with a terminal illness, or having to cope with  the long term effects of  a disabling mental or physical condition, can be one of the most stressful situations that we can find ourselves in.

 

Obviously having the right amount of information and support is crucial, as is having access to the best levels of medical care available.

 

We have brought together a number of web sites, that can give information about cancer and other illnesses which you may find helpful.

 

Cyprus Samaritans also offer support through our confidential listening service, to people who are experiencing  illness or the people who are helping or caring for them.

 

Being very ill can be a frightening and lonely time, and watching someone you love have to go through this process can be very traumatic.

 

While we cannot offer practical or medical support, we can help by allowing you to express your fears and feelings in a secure and caring environment. Just knowing that you are not alone, and that there are people who will listen to you when you need them, really can help.

 

USEFUL LINKS

General Health Issues

www.nhs.uk

www.hpa.org.uk

 

Cancer

www.orchid-cancer.org.uk  (testicular cancer)

www.breastcancercare.org.uk

www.cancerpatientssupport.net (Cyprus Support Group)

www.cancernews.com

 

Cyprus Samaritans does not operate or control these sites and is not responsible for any of their content.  The existence of these links does not constitute an endorsement of the websites, nor the views expressed in them.  Your linking to these sites is entirely at your own risk.

This article has been written to give general background information about Depression. Additional information can be accessed from web site links shown below. Cyprus Samaritans can help by listening in confidence to anyone affected directly or indirectly by Depression. This can also help when you are faced with frightening thoughts about taking your own life.

 

The word 'depression' causes much confusion. It is often used to describe when someone is feeling 'low', 'miserable', 'in a mood' or having 'got out of bed on the wrong side'. However, therapists use the word in two different ways, either to describe the symptom of a 'low mood', or to refer to it as a 'depressive state'. This confusion is made all the worse because it is often difficult to tell the difference between feeling gloomy or feeling depressed.

 

Depression is very common. Almost anybody can develop depression; it is certainly NOT a sign of weakness.

 

Depression is also treatable. You may need to see a doctor, but there are things you can do yourself or things you can do to help somebody suffering from depression. What you cannot do is 'pull yourself together'; no matter whether this is what you think you should be able to do, or what other people tell you to do. People who have experienced an episode of depression are at risk of developing another in the future. A small proportion may experience an episode of depression as part of a bipolar affective disorder (manic depression) that is characterised by episodes of both low and high moods.

 

Bipolar Affective Disorder (Manic Depression):

  • Episodes of depression, in which someone's mood is abnormally low.
  • Episodes of mania or hypomania when the mood is abnormally elevated with heightened mental and often physical activity.
  • Periods of normal mood.
  • It is a serious condition but can be helped with the right treatment.

 

Symptoms of Depression:

Stress can lead to you to feeling 'down' and 'miserable'. What is different about depression is that these feelings last for weeks or months, rather than days. In addition to feeling low most or all of the time, many other symptoms can occur in depression.

  • Feeling restless, tense, and anxious.
  • Being irritable.
  • Losing self-confidence.
  • Avoiding other people.
  • Finding it harder than usual to make decisions.
  • Feeling useless and inadequate, a waste of space.
  • Feeling guilty about who you are and what you have done
  • Feeling hopeless that nothing will make things better.
  • Thinking about suicide - this is very common.
  • If you feel this way, talk to somebody about it. If you think somebody else might be thinking this way, ask him/her about it.

Sometimes, when we are going through a 'bad patch' in our life, it is enough to talk through our problems with a friend or relative. However, this may not be enough and we may need to seek professional help. The important thing to remember about depression is that it is treatable.

 

There are many different types of treatment. These include medication and talking therapies (psychotherapy, counselling).

 

Psychotherapy and Counselling:

There are many different forms of psychotherapy and counselling. Simply talking to somebody or your doctor about your problems is a form of psychotherapy and can help greatly. It is far better to talk about your problems than 'bottling-up' your emotions.

 

What to Do If You Are Depressed:

  • Talk to people about how you feel.
  • Do not bottle things up.
  • It is NOT a sign of weakness to get help for your problems.

Although you may not be able to do the things you normally would (such as work), try to keep active as much as you can.

 

Lying in bed or sitting thinking about your problems can make them seem worse. Taking physical exercise can also help depression and keep your mind off your worries.

 

Do not increase your alcohol (a depressant) intake to try and drown your sorrows or help you sleep better. Alcohol will only make the depression worse and harder to treat.

 

If you are having problems sleeping, try not to lie in bed thinking about your problems and anxieties. Do something to take your mind off your worries such as reading or listening to the radio. It is not you being weak, and you cannot simply 'pull yourself together,.

 

Depression is treatable.

 

Remember, you are also not alone.

 

Dr Vasilios Silivistris DipSup DipComp BA MA FRSH MBACP PhD

www.depressionalliance.org

www.breathingspacescotland.co.uk

 

Cyprus Samaritans does not operate or control these sites and is not responsible for any of their content. The existence of these links does not constitute an endorsement of the websites, nor the views expressed in them. Your linking to these sites is entirely at your own risk.

This article has been written to give general background information about Domestic Violence. Additional information can be accessed from web site links shown below. Cyprus Samaritans can help by listening in confidence to anyone affected directly or indirectly by Domestic Violence. We cannot give advice but we can put you in touch with people who can help you.

 

Adults experiencing domestic violence

Domestic violence can happen to anyone. Although the majority of incidents involving domestic violence involves men being violent to women, men can be victims of domestic violence too. The first step is to recognise that you are in a violent relationship which won't change unless you do something about it.

 

Domestic violence includes physical, emotional, sexual or mental abuse.

 

Physical violence includes hitting, beating, kicking, slapping.

 

Emotional and mental abuse includes threatening to harm you, constantly intimidating and belittling you, bullying you and controlling you in respect of denying you access to friends and family, preventing you from leaving the home, constantly criticising everything you do and finding fault with you, calling you names and telling you that you are worthless.

 

Sexual violence includes being forced to have sex against your will, degrading you and hurting and abusing you.

 

It may be that the abuse has been going on for some time - perhaps even for years. You may be staying with your abusive partner for a variety of reasons:

 

Staying for the sake of the children : Children are often aware of the difficulties in their parents relationships. Children who are brought up in an atmosphere of fear, anger, rows, violence, often suffer tremendously because of the situation at home. They may become introverted, withdrawn, start wetting the bed, have difficulty in sleeping, try to avoid school, have difficulty in concentrating at school, have problems doing their homework, are reluctant to bring friends home which can lead to lack of friends and isolation, can exhibit behavioural problems both in and out of school, can become aggressive like the abusive parent, can experience feelings of confusion, sadness, anger, anxiety, depression, and may be dealing with this by using unhealthy coping strategies such as eating disorders and self harm. If your abusive partner is hitting you, he/she can also turn on your children and they may be at risk of abuse.

 

It is also giving your child an unhealthy role model to follow and the child could grow up to think it is perfectly acceptable to be abusive and violent which means your child could act in the same way when he/she becomes an adult and starts forming relationships. It is better for a child to be brought up in a happy, safe, secure, loving home by one parent than be brought up in a home where a parent is abusive to their partner and domestic violence is taking place. You have a responsibility to protect your children as they cannot protect themselves. If you are currently in this situation you need to ask yourself are you really doing the right thing by staying for the sake of your children?

 

Staying because you still think your partner will change. Your partner has to want to change and accept he/she has a problem. No doubt he/she is blaming you and is unwilling to see that he/she has a problem. Unless your partner admits the problem and seeks help it is highly unlikely your partner will change and the cycle of abuse may continue for years and years. If an abusive partner is willing to accept responsibility that he/she has a problem, and gets help, through hard work and determination and counselling, workshops etc. it is possible to change and to learn new patterns of behaviour but the person has to want to change and want to do something about it.

 

Staying because you still love your partner . Yes, you may still love your partner but it is possible to love someone and for it not to be healthy for you to stay in that relationship and be together. Each time your partner is abusive to you he/she no doubt apologises profusely, may buy you presents, flowers etc. and promises not to do it again and that it will never ever happen again. These are invariably false and empty promises. Your partner probably makes you feel that you are to blame for the violence and everything is your fault. Each time your partner is violent towards you it may be easier for you to block of the violence and focus on the times in between when he/she may seem caring and loving. That is not reality and you need to be able to accept the reality if you are ever able to move away from your abusive relationship.

 

The one place you should be able to feel safe and secure is in your own home. You should be able to have control over your own life, choices and decisions. In an abusive relationship you are not able to do this and in effect have little or no control over your own life. Abuse affects your self respect, self esteem, self worth, often making you believe you are a nothing and therefore don't deserve to be treated better.

 

You deserve to be treated with respect at all times, to be treated in a caring, loving way. To feel safe in your own home. You do not deserve to live in an atmosphere of fear. You may be staying because your self esteem is already low from previous abusive relationships, and perhaps abuse as a child. When are you going to stop the cycle of staying in abusive relationships? If you love someone but they are damaging your health, your safety, your self esteem, and controlling your life - is it really right to stay with that person? Do you not deserve to be happy, to take control of your own life, to be in a loving relationship, to feel safe in the world? Everyone deserves that and you have the strength within you to change your life and to move out of an abusive relationship.

 

There are agencies who can advise on accommodation, on legal matters, who can give emotional support and counselling to help build up your self esteem and to help you to move towards taking control of your life. In Cyprus this service can be accessed by calling 1440 at any time. More information is available from the links below.

 

For children and young people witnessing domestic violence in the home

If you are a child or young person witnessing domestic violence in the home you may be feeling very alone, frightened, depressed, confused, isolated. Your school work may be suffering, you may be experiencing difficulties in making friends and relationships, you may be harming yourself in some way as a means of coping with the circumstances at home.

 

It is important to talk to someone about how you are feeling. 1440 Helpline is there to help

www.domviolence.org.cy  (site in Greek and English) Help-line 1440

www.childline.org.uk

www.supportline.org.uk

 

Cyprus Samaritans does not operate or control these sites and is not responsible for any of their content.  The existence of these links does not constitute an endorsement of the websites, nor the views expressed in them.  Your linking to these sites is entirely at your own risk.

GAY, LESBIAN, TRANSGENDER, BISEXUAL

This is a series of wide ranging issues, and for a lot of people causes them very little problem. However for others their sexual orientation and other peoples reactions to it, can cause a lot of stress and unhappiness. In Cyprus some attitudes to Gay people in particular, can be difficult, and although this is changing, problems in day to day life still remain. The article feature below gives an insight into the issues young people face in particular, dealing with gender related issues. Cyprus Samaritans can help support people with any issues surrounding gender or sexual identity, by offering our confidential listening service. Talking about your problems and feelings really helps, especially in a non judgemental supportive environment. We have also provided some additional links that contain useful information that may be of help to you.

 

What is Gender Dysphoria?

Gender dyphoria, also known as Gender Identity Disorder, applies to someone who is unhappy with their biological sex and who wishes to belong to the other one.

 

For example, your daughter may say that she wants to be a boy, or your son may identify himself as a girl. Or perhaps you are worried about your child's cross gender behaviour, but they won't discuss it with you, and instead are isolated and withdrawn.

 

Or it may be you, as a young person, and you feel that your body is wrong, and that you should have been a girl if you were born a boy, or a boy if you were born a girl.

 

Gender identity is the sense of belief that "I am male" or "I am female". A child becomes aware of its gender identity before or around the age of five years, in many cases as early as 2 or 3 years of age. In most people their gender identity is the same as their sex, i.e. a woman or girl feels she is female and a man or boy feels he is male, but in a few people their gender identity and their sex do not match, and this can cause problems.

 

Gender identity issues vary considerably, some may be transient in nature, and some may not. They may arise when a child exhibits cross-gender behaviour to some degree or other. Some may be boys who prefer to take the female role or vice versa; others may have a compulsion to play with toys mostly used by the other sex (for instance, a boy who predominantly plays with dolls or a girl who always plays with action men and 'army toys'). Some children may only feel comfortable when playing with peers of the other physical sex, or may cross-dress from time to time.

 

Some children may be unhappy about their own biological sex and either wish to belong to the other one, or feel that they actually do; some adolescents may experience a crisis over a problem of gender identity or sexual orientation, or both. These situations can lead to considerable concern and distress for all those involved.

 

At school, children or teenagers with a gender identity issue are often subjected to abuse. Bullying can take many forms; isolation and exclusion, insults and name-calling, and even physical attacks. The child or teenager may have great difficulty in dealing with school life, and can struggle to respond appropriately. However, education about gender identity issues in the school environment is very important and can be highly effective when dealing with these problems.

 

Many adults with gender identity issues describe difficulties in childhood. Often they complain of having been very unhappy children and teenagers, and that their suffering had not been recognised early enough by parents and professionals.

 

The earlier this suffering can be recognised, then with the right support and treatment, young people can be helped to tolerate living in these distressing conditions until, having found a solution to the identity conflict, they can experience a happier and less traumatic adulthood.

 

Awareness of gender identity issues at an early age should be promoted, and that help is provided to families or individuals in order to alleviate any problems that might arise. It is often helpful to talk to others who have gone through, or are going through, similar problems. Contact with others, whether by telephone, letter, or in person, can help to deal with the feelings of loneliness and alienation that can arise.

 

Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, Intersex

www.lgbt.co.uk

www.mermaidsuk.org.uk  (support for young people with gender issues)

www.gay-cyprus.com

www.nat.org.uk  (HIV Specifc)

www.supportline.org.uk

 

Cyprus Samaritans does not operate or control these sites and is not responsible for any of their content.  The existence of these links does not constitute an endorsement of the websites, nor the views expressed in them.  Your linking to these sites is entirely at your own risk.

This article has been written to give general background information about Mental Health. Additional information can be accessed from web site links shown below. Cyprus Samaritans can help by listening in confidence to anyone affected directly or indirectly by Mental Health Issues. This can also help when you are faced with frightening thoughts about taking your own life.

 

Approximately one in four adults in Europe and the United States experience mental health issues, or are affected by someone's mental health issues in the course of their lives. At work, one in three is likely to have some mental problem in any given year.

 

Mental health issues can affect relationships, work and quality of life.

 

Problems can range from serious lifelong illnesses affecting mood and perception (for example, schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder) to a less serious emotional distress.

 

The stigma of mental illness across cultures is profound especially here in Cyprus.

 

Prejudice and discrimination can prevent us from knowing about or to seek help. With the right help, many people with serious enduring psychological problems or illness can live and work successfully well within the community.

 

Medication is a common form of treatment; it is helpful for some things but may not be the best or only treatment for some problems.

 

Non-medical interventions, like the talking therapies (such as psychotherapy and counselling) may be a more effective approach to dealing with deep-rooted issues that might stem from our childhood.

 

The most important thing is to seek professional advice and guidance.

 

Mental or emotional distress is a normal response to life events, for example, bereavement, relationship breakdown, or a life-threatening or serious illness.

 

Getting support is an important first step in managing these responses and not a sign of weakness or failure to cope.

 

Mental Distress

Terms like depression or anxiety are used freely in conversation so we underestimate the distressing impact they have. The terms describe a range of familiar states diagnosed by doctors that include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Behaviour or Disorder
  • Phobias
 

Serious Mental Health Disorders include:

Bipolar Affective Disorder (Manic Depression)

 

A mood disorder often vacillating between two extremes of mania and depression.

 

The mania phase means the person is likely to behave in a hyperactive, uninhibited, reckless way perhaps showing grandiose schemes and scattered ideas.

 

They may go without sleep/rest for long periods and can spend wildly, vast running debts.

 

In the opposite phase, they may experience long periods of being totally incapacitated by depression, negative thoughts and feelings.

 

Not everyone experiences both these extremes.

 

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a broad term for a spectrum of symptoms.

 

Reaching a definite diagnosis is difficult and takes time.

 

Schizophrenia can be a most debilitating mental illness and can severely interfere with someone's ability to perform everyday tasks and activities.

 

Symptoms may include:

  • experiencing an altered state of reality
  • having delusions
  • hearing (often-destructive) voices
  • seeing things that other people cannot
  • Some with these problems may become confused, extremely fearful and withdrawn.

Each persons experience will be different and some people corrective treatment can continue to hold down jobs and relationships and rarely experience recurrence of their symptoms.

 

What are the Causes of Mental Distress?

Opinions vary about what causes mental distress and there are no clear answers.

 

Some people seem to be more vulnerable to mental health problems, which could be triggered by stressful traumatic events.

 

Even people who abused drugs in their youth are also prone to develop mental health issues in later life.

 

Causes seem to be any one of these factors or a combination of them.

  • Difficult family background
  • Difficulty in expressing/dealing with hidden feelings
  • Stressful and traumatic events
  • Biochemistry of fear and trauma
  • Genetics/Inherited characteristics
  • Mental Health Problems in the Family

Many people will have a partner or relative or child who has mental problems at some time, some have chronic, enduring conditions.

 

Supporting and caring for someone with mental health problems can also take its toll on the carers.

 

It is also important for carers to seek support to enable them to cope with the difficulties that might arise caring for some one with mental health issues.

 

Dr Vasilios Silivistris DipSup DipComp BA MA FRSH MBACP PhD

 

OTHER USEFUL LINKS

www.mind.org.uk

www.sane.org.uk

www.bbc.co.uk/health/emotional_health/

 

Cyprus Samaritans does not operate or control these sites and is not responsible for any of their content.  The existence of these links does not constitute an endorsement of the websites, nor the views expressed in them.  Your linking to these sites is entirely at your own risk.

This article has been written to give general background information about Self Harm. Additional information can be accessed from web site links shown below. Cyprus Samaritans can help by listening in confidence to anyone affected directly or indirectly by Self Injury/Self Harm. This can also help when you are faced with frightening thoughts about taking your own life.

 

Self-injury is a coping mechanism. An individual harms their physical self to deal with emotional pain, or to break feelings of numbness by arousing sensation.

 

Long Definition

Self-injury is any deliberate, non suicidal behaviour that inflicts physical harm on your body and is aimed at relieving emotional distress. Physical pain is often easier to deal with than emotional pain, because it causes 'real' feelings. Injuries can prove to an individual that their emotional pain is real and valid. Self-injurious behaviour may calm or awaken a person. Yet self-injury only provides temporary relief, it does not deal with the underlying issues. Self-injury can become a natural response to the stresses of day to day life and can escalate in frequency and severity.

 

For more details, see the Links and the SI Awareness Booklet, free to download!

 

Self-Harm? Is that like Self-Injury?

People use different terms for self-injury; SI, SH, DSH (Deliberate Self Harm), SIB (Self Injurious Behaviour), Self Mutilation, Cutting; some people even include self-injury when they say 'parasuicide'. Hospitals and Doctors might use different words, but whatever words we use, are we talking about the same thing?

 

FirstSigns feels that language is important when professionals are talking about self-injury, and talking to people who self-injure, but of course, we're happy for people who self-injure to use whatever words and phrases they feel comfortable with. If you consider yourself a 'self-harmer' rather than a 'person who self-injures' then that's fine!

 

At FirstSigns, we talk about self-injury rather than self-harm because we see self-harm as a larger concept, and FirstSigns focuses on the narrower idea of self-injury.

 

Self-Harm and Self-Injury

Self-harm is an umbrella term that includes a variety of behaviours that damage, or cause harm to a person. Self-injury falls under the umbrella of self-harm, and is a direct behaviour that causes injury and damage to one's body. At FirstSigns, we believe the intention of self-injury is to release tension and seek relief from distress; we focus on the intention and the fact that people rely on self-injury as a coping mechanism.

 

The FirstSigns defintion of self-injury

Self-injury is a coping mechanism. An individual harms their physical self to deal with emotional pain, or to break feelings of numbness by arousing sensation.

 

Self-harm includes many harmful behaviours such as self-injury, but includes such diverse matters as eating disorders, risk taking behaviour, drug and alcohol misuse.

 

We might describe a massive acute drug overdose as suicidal behaviour, but if someone is self-medicating in a chronic manner (over a period of time) then we're more likely to describe it as self-injury, especially if the person explains their actions are to 'help them cope' or 'help them forget'.

 

At FirstSigns, it's all about self-definition, we listen to people, we don't judge or throw labels around. We're pleased to offer our explanation of how self-injury is related to self-harm, and here at FirstSigns, we know we can offer great information about self-injury, but that we're not going to stretch our expertise to eating disorders and drug abuse, we know other organisations have expertise in those realms.

 

So that's why our name is made up of the acronym SIGNS – Self-Injury Guidance & Network Support, and that's why we support SIAD - Self-Injury Awareness Day, every 1st of March.

 

Find out more by downloading our fantastic Factsheets

This article is taken from  "FirstSigns" at www.firstsigns.org.uk

Add Useful Link www.something-fishy.org  (eating disorders)

 

Cyprus Samaritans does not operate or control these sites and is not responsible for any of their content.  The existence of these links does not constitute an endorsement of the websites, nor the views expressed in them.  Your linking to these sites is entirely at your own risk.

The section below is taken from the UK Relate Website. While making many references to services that are only available in the UK, it contains some very helpful advice and guidance for people experiencing all types of relationship issues.

 

We have also included some additional links to websites that provide information, about contraception, abortion and sexually transmitted infections. It must be remembered that the culture and attitudes in Cyprus to certain issues are different , and this must be respected. It must also be remembered that the age of consent in Cyprus is 17.

 

Cyprus Samaritans do not provide advice on these issues, but we do offer  a service that supports you by allowing you to talk in complete confidence, to trained listeners, who can help you express your fears and feelings. You do not have to go through these problems on your own, Cyprus Samaritans is here to help you.

 

Family Life common problems

Click here to view family life common problems

 

Older People common problems

Click here to view older people common problems

 

Relationship common problems

Click here to view relationship common problems

 

Separating/Divorcing common problems

Click here to view separating/divorcing common problems

 

LGBT common problems

Click here to view lgbt common problems

 

Sex life common problems

Click here to view sex life common problems

 

Young people's common problems

Click here to view young people's common problems

 

N.B. THE AGE OF CONSENT IN CYPRUS IS 17

www.brook.org.uk

www.fpa.org.uk

www.relate.org.uk

www.mariestopes.org.uk

 

Sexually Transmitted Infections

www.nat.org.uk  (HIV Specifc)

www.nhs.uk

www.netdoctor.co.uk

 

Cyprus Samaritans does not operate or control these sites and is not responsible for any of their content.  The existence of these links does not constitute an endorsement of the websites, nor the views expressed in them.  Your linking to these sites is entirely at your own risk.

This article is taken from the Samaritans UK website, and has been adapted for our operation in Cyprus.

We offer exactly the same service and have been trained using the same methods and techniques as Samaritans in the UK. Talking about your problems can really help, why not give it a try call us on 8000 7773,or email us at confidential@cyprussamaritans.org   or make an appointment to visit us in person at our centre in Paphos….what have you got to lose?

 

What is suicide?

Suicide is the act of a person consciously (willingly) ending their own life.

 

Why do people take their own lives?

 

There is no one reason why people take their own lives. It is often as a result of problems building up to the point where the person can see no other way to cope with what they’re experiencing.

 

Very often people (or the media) look for a ‘cause’ as if there is one factor that has led someone to take their own life. In reality, the way someone feels is a result of many factors. For example, a recent survey of Samaritans UK callers found that 86% of them were calling about a number of problems or worries rather than one single thing.

 

The kinds of problems that might increase the risk of suicide include:

 

  • Recent loss or the break up of a close relationship
  • An actual or expected unhappy change in circumstances
  • Painful and/or disabling physical illness
  • Heavy use of, or dependency on alcohol/other drugs
  • History of earlier suicide attempts or self-harming
  • History of suicide in the family
  • Depression
  • When someone is feeling low or distressed it may be that a seemingly minor event is the trigger for them attempting to kill themselves.

 

Why does talking help?

Talking openly about how you really feel can be like opening a door. Talking puts you back in control and reveals the choices you have.

 

Many people feel pressured into hiding their feelings out of embarrassment or concern not to burden family or friends. But hiding under a calm exterior only saves the problem for later and stress can build up until it becomes unbearable. Don’t leave it that long.

 

Remember, Cyprus Samaritans are there to help.

 

"I'd like to say how great Samaritans are. I recently phoned them and the bloke I talked to was really calm and friendly. He gave me the time that I needed to say difficult things and he called me back so that the call wouldn't appear on the itemised phone bill. No-one there could magically make my life better and totally happy, but talking really did help. People reading this who are depressed might not believe that; I know because I was the same. But I'd like to say give it a try - it can't make things worse can it? I also know that there will always be someone at the end of the phone."

Gary, UK  Samaritans caller

 

Do you have to be suicidal to call Cyprus Samaritans?

If you think you might benefit from confidential emotional support then we are here for you. You do not have to be suicidal to contact us. We will not judge you if you call. We understand that sometimes it can feel difficult to pick up the telephone, so try an email or write  a letter to us instead. Sometimes writing down your thoughts can really help understand them better.

 

"I would tell anyone to call Samaritans because they've always helped me and you haven't got anything to lose. If they don't help you, it's just a phone call, you don't have to tell anyone that you've called them and it's all anonymous. It's worth a try. Even if you aren't on the point of killing yourself, you can still be going through immense pain and distress-almost unbearable - and Samaritans are fantastic at easing your pain."

UK Samaritans caller

This article has been written to give general background information about Trauma. Cyprus Samaritans can help by listening in confidence to anyone affected directly or indirectly by Trauma or PTSD.

 

It is not the event that determines whether something is traumatic to someone, but the individual's experience of the event.

 

What does Trauma mean?

Trauma is the Greek word (Τρανμα) for to pierce, or to wound. It is a severe emotional shock caused by an extremely upsetting experience that affects the physiology of the body and the central nervous system.

 

Why do people get traumatized?

In order to successfully negotiate a traumatic event, we must respond in one of two ways: either resist and overcome the threat ('Fight'), or avoid and get away from the threat ('Flight').

 

Furthermore, if we are unable to exercise either of these two options, we enter a third state, common to all animals, we "Freeze". Unlike our animal friends, this frozen state of heightened autonomic arousal may become chronic over time. Animals in the wild literally "shake off" the threat, but we humans, with our complex brains, get stuck in frozen patterns of distress.

 

In PTSD and Panic Disorder, for example, we see automatic and persistent symptoms of hyper vigilance, fatigue, anxiety, sleep disturbance, social withdrawal, addictive behaviour, depression, numbing.

 

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

In our everyday lives, any of us can have an experience that is overwhelming, frightening, and beyond our control. We could find ourselves in a car crash, the victim of an assault, or see an accident. Police, fire brigade or ambulance workers are more likely to have such experiences - they often have to deal with horrifying scenes. Soldiers may be shot or blown up, and see friend skilled or injured.

 

Most people, in time, get over experiences like this without needing help. In some people, though, traumatic experiences set off a reaction that can last for many months or years.

 

This is called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD for short.

 

How does PTSD start?

PTSD can start after any traumatic event. A traumatic event is one where we can see that we are in danger, our life is threatened, or where we see other people dying or being injured.

 

Some typical traumatic events would be:

  • Serious road accidents
  • Military combat
  • Violent personal assault (sexual assault, physical attack, abuse, robbery, mugging)
  • Being taken hostage
  • Terrorist attack
  • Being a prisoner-of-war
  • Natural or man-made disasters
  • Being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.

Even hearing about the unexpected injury or violent death of a family member or close friend can start PTSD.

 

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

There are four main types of PTSD symptoms. A diagnosis of PTSD requires the presence of all categories of symptomatic responses:

 

Re-experiencing the trauma:

 

Flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive memories and exaggerated emotional and physical reactions, to triggers that remind the person of the trauma.

 

Emotional numbing:

feeling detached, lack of emotions (especially positive ones), loss of interest in activities.

 

Avoidance:

avoiding activities, people, or places that remind the person of the trauma.

 

Increased arousal:

difficulty sleeping and concentrating, irritability, hyper vigilance (being on guard), and exaggerated startle response.

 

How is PTSD commonly treated?

If symptoms persist for longer than four weeks, a diagnosis of PTSD is made.

 

Symptoms of PTSD are commonly treated by Psychotherapy.

 

Because PTSD has so strongly affected the brain itself, treatment often takes longer and progresses more slowly than with other types of anxiety disorders, and is most effective with a specialist in trauma recovery.

 

It is most important to feel comfortable and safe with the therapist, so there is no additional fear or anxiety about the treatment itself.

 

Psychotherapy may include relaxation techniques deep breathing, muscle relaxation, positive imagery, meditation, etc

 

Dr Vasilios Silivistris DipSup DipComp BA MA FRSH MBACP PhD

http://www.psychological.services.eucy.info/