Is your marriage in trouble?

What do you do when you know you are having relationship problems? Relationship or marital problems come in all forms. So, if you are feeling distraught, worn out or desperate for help or want to help a loved one, you are not alone. Relationships require work and are bound to face challenges but it is possible to overcome them. 

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Marital and relationship issues could be caused by… 

  • Abuse
  • Romantic affairs with others
  • Parenting issues
  • Attachment issues
  • Financial issues
  • Household responsibilities
  • Family issues (in-laws, siblings)

Are you and / or your partner..

  • fighting about the same thing repeatedly?
  • no longer having anything in common?
  • spending less time together?
  • having an inactive sex life?
  • focusing more on kids than each other?relationship-conflict
  • thinking about having an affair with someone else?
  • keeping things to yourself?
  • having a lack of communication?
  • having a lack of understanding?
  • having incompatible financial values?
  • causing or undergoing sexual abuse?
  • causing or undergoing domestic violence?
  • having a lack of respect towards each other?

Relationship or marital issues aren’t always a bad thing. In reality, these issues can help you stay alert and focused, push you to take action, and motivate you to solve problems. However if you are undergoing any of the following:

  • When you aren’t talking (lack of communication)
  • When you’re talking, but it’s always negative (feeling judged, shamed, disregarded, in
    secure)
  • When you’re afraid to talk
  • When affection is withheld as punishment
  • When you see your partner as an enemy
  • When you are having an affair
  • When you’re not living as a couple
  • When your sex life has shifted drastically

…for over a period of 3 months, seek immediate help.

Why is it important to get help in such situations?

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  • To prevent your relationship issues from affecting your mental and
    physical health.
  • To prevent your relationship issues from affecting your performance at work.
  • To prevent your relationship issues negatively affecting your child/children.
  • To prevent your marriage from ending up in divorce.
  • To abstain from using alcohol/ drugs.
  • To lead a happy & successful married life.

How and where can I find help?

At Home – you may turn to your family and friends for help. A social support structure is vital to combat such issues.

At Work – if your workplace has a well-qualified counsellor or psychologist, approach them. They will be able to help you overcome problems in your marriage.

Visit a Mental Health Professional – A well-qualified and experienced professional will be able to provide you with the best guidance.

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What do you know about DEPRESSION?

Depression is not the same as being sad, neither is it a sign of weakness nor a character flaw. It is an illness, which can have a serious effect on a person’s life and the lives of those around them. It can even lead to suicide in severe cases.

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Depression may arise in different forms…

  • A depressed mood or a loss of interest/ pleasure in daily activities for more than two weeks.
  • Depression could also last for 2 years or longer.
  • Severe recurrent temper outbursts manifested verbally and/or behaviorally that are out of proportion in intensity / duration to the situation or provocation.
  • Certain medical conditions could also lead to a state of depression in
    an individual.
  • Some women may feel depressed at the start of the menstrual cycle.

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  • feeling sad or low for long periods of time (usually more than 2 weeks)?
  • feeling constantly helpless or guilty?
  • constantly anxious, worried or irritable?
  • feeling tired all the time, having no energy, motivation or inability to
    concentrate?
  • losing interest in things that you normally enjoy?
  • losing interest in sex?
  • having changes in appetite (i.e. eating too much or too little)?
  • having trouble sleeping, or needing to sleep more than usual?
  • having thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself?
  • hearing voices in your head or seeing things that others don’t see?

Depression might feel like it will never go away, but it mostly does get better with the right help!

Why is it important to get help in such situations?

Getting help is never a bad thing. With the right help, you could ensure that your depression will not negatively affect your physical health, your performance at work/school, and your social life. It will help you abstain from having to use drugs and/or alcohol as well as help you avoid worsening the state and life threatening situations.

How and where can I find help?

At Home – you may turn to your family and friends for help. A social support structure is vital to combat depression.
At School/Work – If your school/workplace has a well qualified counsellor or psychologist, approach them.
Visit a Mental Health Professional – A well qualified and experienced professional will be able to provide you with the best guidance.

 

What do you know about ANXIETY?

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to danger; an automatic alarm that goes off when you feel threatened under pressure, or are facing a stressful situation. It is characterized by feelings of worry, nervousness, stress, fear and unease about something that has an uncertain outcome. Anxiety often arises along with outward signs such as sweating, tension, and increased heart rate.

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Anxiety may arise in different forms…

  • An individual may experience excessive anxiety regarding separation from home or from people to whom the individual has a strong emotional attachment.
  • Unrealistic or exaggerated fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that in reality presents little or no danger.
  • Repeated and unexpected panic attacks, as well as the fear of experiencing another episode.
  • The fear of being seen negatively by others and humiliated in public.
  • Constant worries and fears that distract you from your day-to-day activities as you are repeatedly troubled by the feeling that something bad is going to happen.
  • Anxiety experienced during intoxication of a substance or during withdrawal from a substance.

Do you experience the following?

  • Are you constantly tense, worried or on edge?
  • Does your anxiety interfere with your work, school or family responsibilities?
  • Are you troubled by fears that you know are irrational but cannot ignore?
  • Do you believe that something bad will happen if certain things are not done a certain way?
  • Do you avoid everyday situations or activities because they cause you anxiety?
  • Do you feel like danger and disaster is around you at all times?
  • Do you often experience symptoms such as a palpitations, sweating, headaches,          stomach upset, dizziness, frequent urination,  shortness of breath, muscle tension,    tremors, twitches, over-tiredness or the inability to sleep?

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Anxiety could also be a good thing. In reality, anxiety can help you stay alert and focused, push you to action, and motivate you to solve problems. However if you or someone you know has experienced several of the above symptoms for a period of 6 months or more, seek immediate help.

Why is it important to get help in such situations?

  • To prevent your anxiety from affecting your mental and physical health.
  • To prevent your anxiety from affecting your performance at work/school.
  • To prevent your anxiety from affecting your relationships.
  • To abstain from using alcohol/ drugs.
  • To have a satisfying and fulfilling life.

How and where can I find help?

At Home – you may turn to your family and friends for help. A social support structure is vital to combat anxiety.
At School/Work – If your school/workplace has a well qualified counsellor or psychologist, approach them.
Visit a Mental Health Professional – A well qualified and experienced professional will be able to provide you with the best guidance.

 

Cancer and Mental Health

Any serious physical illness can impact mental health to a great degree. For patients, their loved ones, caregivers etc., this can be a devastating experience. Receiving a potentially fatal diagnosis, going through treatment protocols and learning to live with a condition such as cancer will not only affect your physical body but also your mental health.

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It is common for cancer patients to undergo a series of thought processes such as feelings of shock, disbelief, avoidance, anger, guilt and blame, feeling alone, loss of control and independence, loss of confidence, sadness and depression, withdrawal, isolation, fear and so on. All these thoughts directly or indirectly cause them significant personal distress in addition to the physical pain they undergo. How one cope with these thoughts and feelings depend upon ones’ own personality type, how advanced ones’ cancer is, the treatment one is receiving and how much support there is around the person. For example, certain cancer treatments could cause depression.; a side effect of chemotherapy, known as chemo brain can cause intense fatigue, mental fog, depression and other forms of cognitive impairment.

According to a research done in University of Leipzig in Germany, one in three people diagnosed with cancer also ends up coping with a mental health disorder such as anxiety or depression.

However what is important to be known is that, this can be countered. Psychotherapy with an experienced therapist or psychologist can be helpful in terms of providing a listening ear and giving guidance from the start to a diagnosed patient. Mindfulness based cognitive therapies and mindfulness based stress reduction have also been proven to be highly effective countering the stress and negative thoughts, and increasing positive and more optimistic thoughts, which in turn would improve the patients quality of life.

Mental health treatment should be an integrative part of caring for both the patient and those around them. With the support available in counseling and psychotherapy, no patient or their loved ones need to suffer in silence. By seeking treatment for mental health conditions, patients will be able to better carry on with the healing process and loved ones and caregivers will be better able to fulfill their personal needs and the needs of the patient.

In todays world, with all it’s advancements, it your turn to take a step forward. So if you or a loved one is suffering from a diagnosis of cancer, don’t be afraid to seek help. Reach out, Be aware. Take action.

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-Kavitha Amaratunga

Strive for progress.Not perfection.

Ever held yourself back from doing something that you’d like to do because you’re afraid of what others would think? Be honest with yourself, how often have you done this, and how much have you missed out on because of this? A lot of the time, it’s just you doubting yourself. You don’t need to worry about and try to change what others think about you. You just need to change what you think of yourself. People often think that in order to have self-esteem they need to be popular, have a great body, or accomplish something great. Self-esteem does not come from having fantastic abilities, it comes from accepting your strengths and weaknesses, and living secure in that knowledge. Once you accept and appreciate yourself – flaws and all, it’ll open you to so much of new experience.

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You find yourself relishing new challenges when you have high self-esteem. You may not necessarily perform exceedingly well, but you are all out to give it a go. Stepping out of your comfort zone is healthy because you discover new capabilities and build on hidden skills. If you discover that something is not really your strong suit, that’s perfectly aright because no one is good at everything. When you have better self-esteem, you can be yourself instead of struggling to change yourself to meet the expectations of others. It just makes your life easier when you feel no shame in being you. You know that others will not always agree with you and that it’s fine. You are fine with others disagreeing with you because you know that everyone is entitled to their own opinions. You are able to confidently articulate your views without feeling the need to concede out of fear of being rejected. Furthermore, when you have high self-esteem you are more forgiving of yourself and others around you because you realise that everyone is fallible. Anger is not held onto and you deal with conflicts in a dignified manner.

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Increasing self-esteem may be easier said than done. “I don’t get good grades”, “I haven’t got a molecule of athleticism in me”, “I’m not a pleasing sight”, “I’m the most boring person ever”, “I’m awkward” you might say. How would you feel if I reminded you that almost everyone you meet has their own insecurities and flaws? You are not alone. Yet you worry that your tiny flaw is massive and on display for everyone to analyse and criticise. In social psychology this is a phenomenon called the “spotlight effect”. You get a blemish on your chin and you immediately worry that people talking to you will just stare at it and fixate on how disgusting it is. Chances are that they haven’t even noticed it, that is of course, until you feel the need to point it out to this person and fuss about how embarrassing and disgusting it must look. Everyone tends to overestimate the extent to which others notice their flaws.

So how exactly do you improve your self-esteem and change to a positive perception of yourself?

 

  1. Identify your strengths and weaknesses

The first step to improve your self-esteem is to figure out what you think of yourself at the moment. Be completely honest with yourself instead of making general statements like “I suck” or “I can’t do anything”, because those are convincing lies. Keep in mind that your flaws do not amount to the core of your identity. Write down a list of 10 strengths and 10 weaknesses you have. If you have poor self-esteem, filling up the list of strengths might be very difficult. Nothing is too small or stupid to write down in your list of strengths. Are you a good cook? Do you love being neat? Are you a good listener? What have others said about you? Once you write them all down, you’ll have a list of what you think you suck at and a list of what you don’t suck at.

 

  1. Work on your weaknesses

From your list of weaknesses, identify which ones you might be able to change. Set realistic goals, work on the weaknesses one by one.  Make sure you give yourself enough time to change, don’t expect to change overnight. It is important that you have realistic expectations or you’ll end up berating yourself for having not met them. Through trying to improve your self-esteem, you are not striving for perfection, so do not be disappointed if there are weaknesses you cannot change. And don’t be disheartened when others criticize your weaknesses, their criticisms should not affect how you view yourself.

 

  1. Reduce negative thoughts about yourself

 

Stop criticizing yourself. You probably criticize yourself more than others criticize you. This needs to stop. Once you set ridiculous standards for yourself you end up in a vicious cycle of negative thinking. I’m not saying you shouldn’t aim far, I’m saying if your expectations keep disappointing you, maybe you should review them. Accept that perfection is unreachable for anybody on the face of the earth. You’ll never have the perfect body or the perfect life. Don’t be deceived by the idea of perfection that media and society feeds you with, it’s an illusion. So reduce the negative criticism and praise yourself more often. Feel proud of even the littlest accomplishment instead of devaluing them by saying “anyone could do it, it’s no big deal”. Even when you make mistakes (like everyone else does), use them as an opportunity for growth instead of belittling yourself.

 

  1. Try new things

 

Open yourself to completely new experiences. Look for new opportunities, new friendships, challenges, viewpoints and thoughts. Be comfortable with exploring yourself. When you feel down you may feel that you have nothing to offer to others or the world. This may simply be because you don’t know what you’re capable of yet. So go ahead and consider things you haven’t yet thought of. Take risks and get to know yourself better.

 

  1. Compete against yourself, not others

 

Stop comparing yourself to that guy who has thousands of facebook friends, or that girl with the hourglass figure, that genius who wins everything, or that rich person who has everything. The reason you should stop comparing yourself to others is that you don’t know everything about their lives. Maybe that guy who has thousands of friends on facebook has poor relationships in real life, or the girl with the hour glass figure has to survive on salad to maintain it, or the genius does nothing but study all day, or the rich person was born with a silver spoon in their mouth and doesn’t know how to make it big on their own. So don’t compete with others who may be worse off than you, compete with yourself and each day try to produce a better version of YOU.

 

 

Improving your self-esteem is no easy task, it takes time, patience and effort. However it’s worth the effort when the end result is self-acceptance and happiness.

-Jessica De Silva

Suicide; do or die

 

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Suicide rates are increasing drastically all over the world. Suicide accounts for over 8 00 000 deaths per year worldwide. 40% of these occur in low and middle income countries in Asia. According to a World health Organization report on suicide in 2014, Sri Lanka was ranked as having the 4th highest suicide rate in the world. Considering its relative size and impact on the world, to have such a high rate of suicide, wider social and psychological issues must be addressed.

In 2010, Fernando et al conducted a study about suicide rates in Sri Lanka. They studied 151 deaths by suicide as determined by the Colombo coroner’s court in 2006. Out of 151 deaths, 62% were men and 38% were women. The same was reflected in other surveys as well. That same year 3558 men (79%) and 946 women (21%) committed suicide in Sri Lanka.

People who kill themselves don’t really want to die, they just want to stop hurting. In particular, the reasons as to why people commit suicide is quite subject and varies great in intensity. The underlying reason in all such instances is unbearable pain, self-loathing and hopelessness that cripples people from understanding that a situation may change.Suicide Prevention 01

 According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) 50-70% of individuals who attempt suicide try to talk to someone about the suicidal thoughts, feelings and plans. This is their plea for help. Educate yourself on the warning signs of suicide and prepare yourself to help anyone who may be suicidal.

Some suicide warning signs:

  • Talking about suicide- Any talk about suicide, dying, or self-harm, such as “I wish I hadn’t been born,” “If I see you again…” and “I’d be better off dead.”
  • Seeking out lethal means- Seeking access to guns, pills, knives, or other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
  • Preoccupation with death- Unusual focus on death, dying and violence. Writing stories or poems on death.
  • No hope for the future- Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness (“There is no way out”) Belief that things will never get better or change.
  • Self-loathing- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and feeling like a burden. (“Everybody will be better off without me”)
  • Saying goodbye- Making unusual calls and visits to family and friends. Saying goodbye like they’ll never see them again.
  • Self-destructive behavior- Cutting, increased alcohol or drug abuse, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks, as if they have a ‘death wish’.

 

If you have noticed any warning signs of suicide the first set is to speak up if you are worried. Talking to someone who is suicidal can be extremely difficult. Although you are unsure, the best thing is to ask. You can’t make a person suicidal by showing them that you care.

Dos and don’ts when talking to someone who is suicidal:

Do:

  • Be yourself. Let the person know you care, that he/she is not alone. The right words are often unimportant. If you are concerned, your voice and manner will show it.
  • Listen. Let the suicidal person unload despair, ventilate anger. No matter how negative the conversation seems, the fact that it exists is a positive sign.
  • Be sympathetic, non-judgmental, patient, calm, accepting. Your friend or family member is doing the right thing by talking about his/her feelings.
  • Offer hope. Reassure the person that help is available and that the suicidal feelings are temporary. Let the person know that his or her life is important to you.
  • If the person says things like, “I’m so depressed, I can’t go on,” ask the question: “Are you having thoughts of suicide?” You are not putting ideas in their head, you are showing that you are concerned, that you take them seriously, and that it’s OK for them to share their pain with you.

But don’t:

  • Argue with the suicidal person. Avoid saying things like: “You have so much to live for,” “Your suicide will hurt your family,” or “Look on the bright side.”
  • Act shocked, lecture on the value of life, or say that suicide is wrong.
  • Promise confidentiality. Refuse to be sworn to secrecy. A life is at stake and you may need to speak to a mental health professional in order to keep the suicidal person safe. If you promise to keep your discussions secret, you may have to break your word.
  • Offer ways to fix their problems, or give advice, or make them feel like they have to justify their suicidal feelings. It is not about how bad the problem is, but how badly it’s hurting your friend or loved one.
  • Blame yourself. You can’t “fix” someone’s depression. Your loved one’s happiness, or lack thereof, is not your responsibility.

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Give people hope- a sufficient reason to live.

Hope is a necessity for normal life and the major weapon against the suicide impulse.

—Karl A. Menninger

 

Sherine Gnanaratnam