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.
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:
- Obsessive-Compulsive Behaviour or Disorder
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 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
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