Counselling may help…


Depression is actually a serious mood disorder that involves you feeling sad and numb for weeks, months or longer.

It has a wide range of triggers, which can affect you in many different ways.


Depression can:

  • be a one-off episode triggered by something obvious – like losing your job or being diagnosed with a serious illness
  • slowly build from a series of smaller life challenges – like not getting a promotion at work, or fighting with a friend.
  • occur out of the blue and for no exact reason

Depression brings with it many symptoms and challenges – it can be quite debilitating and is not something someone can just ‘get over’ at will. But with the right treatment it is possible to make steps toward recovery.


Depression can affect different people in different ways and to different degrees – it’s important not to underestimate your symptoms.

Doctors recognise there are varied levels of depression – mild, moderate and severe – and that any signs of depression are something you should take seriously and seek professional help for.

If it’s someone else you are worried about, it’s important to recognise that many people hide their depression because of the stigma that unfortunately still exists – a few noticeable symptoms might be signs of a much deeper issue.

  • Emotional and mental symptoms can include:
    • continual low mood such as sadness, guilt, pessimism, worthlessness and helplessness
    • crying far more than usual
    • negative feelings towards yourself and sometimes others
    • reduced motivation to participate in activities
    • difficulty doing much at all
    • loss of interest and enjoyment in life even in things you usually love
    • irritability
    • social withdrawal
    • increased anxiety and/ or panic attacks
    • suicidal thoughts or intentions
    • a general sense life is not worth living
    • low self-esteem
    • self-harm
  • Physical symptoms can include:
    • sleeping more/sleeping less/disturbed sleep
    • higher appetite/lower appetite
    • lack of energy and unexplained fatigue
    • fuzzy thinking and difficulty remembering things
    • poor concentration and coordination
    • lack of libido
    • exacerbation of pre-existing pains
    • a general heavy feeling that has you moving or speaking less quickly than usual

Low Self-Esteem

Self-esteem relates to your belief about yourself – it involves how well you are able to do things and your perception of your own ‘self-worth’.

If you have low self-esteem you are more likely to overlook your strengths and instead focus on weaknesses, downfalls or perceived failures. Low self-esteem has been found to link with depression, anxiety, being self-critical, having low confidence and frequently trying to please others.


Problems such as redundancy – or a relationship breakdown – can have a substantial negative impact on your sense of self-worth and confidence. This may induce further negativity through depression, feelings of hopelessness and drug or alcohol abuse.

This also means you may be more likely to tolerate abusive relationships and unacceptable behaviour from others. This is because you may wrongly believe that you are not worthy of anything better.


If you have low self-esteem you may have thoughts such as:

  • ‘I’m not good enough.’
  • ‘I’m not as good as other people.’
  • ‘I don’t deserve nice things.’
  • ‘I don’t have many qualities.’
  • ‘I wish I could have more respect for myself.’
  • ‘I am useless.’

Having such thoughts can significantly affect your everyday life – for example, stopping you from:

  • applying for a job you would like
  • speaking to a person you would like to speak to
  • trying out new things
  • being ambitious

Many people try and cope with low self-esteem in unhealthy ways – such as substance abuse.

Low self-esteem can significantly affect intimate relationships – because it can mean you believe:

  • you are not worthy of the relationship
  • your partner is likely to find someone else
  • your partner does not really love you.

Low self-esteem can also affect relationships with friends, family or colleagues – because it can mean that you:

  • may require constant reassurance
  • will ‘people-please’
  • may not think you deserve to do things that others do.

Low self-esteem can mean you actively avoid certain social situations and become:

  • passive
  • shy
  • isolated

Low self-esteem is not a recognized mental health problem – though it is often closely linked to the development of mental health issues. Because it is linked to negative thoughts, this can sometimes lead to problems with depression and anxiety.



Self-harming is often a symptom or consequence of an underlying issue or mental health disorder.


People harm themselves for many different reasons – these can include:

  • trying to cope with negative feelings such as:
    • anger, loneliness, sadness
    • frustration, guilt
    • anxiety, stress, powerlessness
    • distress, emptiness, numbness
    • disgust, abandonment
    • having very low self-esteem
  • trying to communicate that you need help:
    • if you find it difficult to use conventional ways of communicating feelings, you may choose harming yourself as a way of getting people’s attention
  • gaining control over your life and/or body:
    • if you have been abused – emotionally, physically or sexually – or traumatised, abandoned, neglected, over-protected, severely bullied or otherwise feel that you have limited control of your life or body, self-harming may be your chosen way of trying to regain some control.

Research has shown that self-harming can bring short-term relief from such feelings. The reason for this sense of relief during and/or after the harming varies greatly and is often psychologically complex.


The signs of self-harming will often be visible, for example, in the form of cuts, scars or burns. Many people that self-harm try to cover up evidence of this behaviour, often with clothing, jewellery and/or tattoos.

Some forms of self-harm – such as overdosing and poisoning – may not leave any visible evidence on the body.

Problems arising from self-harming include infection, long-term tissue damage, permanent scarring, vein or artery injury, acute pain and loss of blood.

Other self-harming behaviours – such as substance abuse and overdosing – can lead to circulatory-system and digestive-system disease or blood poisoning.

The risk of death is a strong possibility if self-harming is not treated.

Work-Related Stress

Stress at work is something we all experience to a degree – mostly it’s positive and can help you stay motivated and get things done. But too much stress is harmful to your health – putting you under both physical and emotional strain – and can lead to sickness and depression.

Work-related stress very common – it’s behind almost 40% of all work-related illness in the UK and is a major issue for both employees, employers and the economy.

There is nothing wrong with hard work and it’s been shown that an organised workplace that is managed well can be positive for your health – providing a sense of purpose, achievement and camaraderie.


Stress can arise when your workplace is neither well organised, well managed nor particularly supportive of its staff.

For example, you may be faced with one or more of the following challenges:

  • a lack of clarity of what is being asked of you
  • being given more work than you can handle or that is outside of your skill set
  • being under-trained for your position
  • being given very high responsibility
  • not having any say in what your work is and how to carry it out
  • being asked to do things within strict or unrealistic time frames
  • being offered no encouragement or feeling under-valued
  • not being given access to the right resources to carry out your job
  • having issues with other colleagues – including bullying
  • having a role that conflicts with another person’s role
  • disorganised change happening within your organisation
  • not being allowed to give feedback
  • working too many hours
  • working in a job or environment that is unstable
  • having a job that threatens your health or life
  • exterior pressures – like demanding clients, negative press, a controlling parent company
  • sexual harassment


There are many physical, physiological and behavioural signs of being highly stressed while at work.

Physical signs can include:

  • Elevated heart rate/ high blood pressure
  • Increased sweating
  • Rushes of energy followed by fatigue
  • Headache and muscle tension
  • Chest pain or back pain
  • Lower immunity to infections
  • High blood pressure
  • Digestive problems
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Sleeping problems
  • Fainting spells
  • Loss of libido
  • Unexplained rashes

Emotional signs can include:

  • depression, despair or hopelessness
  • anxiety
  • anger, agitation
  • feeling insecure and vulnerable
  • forgetfulness
  • lacking in motivation
  • restlessness

Behavioural signs can include:

  • being unable to concentrate
  • avoidance of social situations
  • substance abuse
  • eating too much or too little
  • crying often
  • relationship problems
  • angry outbursts
  • nail biting

Workplace stress can lead to poor job performance, possible redundancy and financial difficulty and the further anxiety that brings, strain on interpersonal relationships, and less effective everyday functioning.

Physical implications include risks of premature ageing. There is evidence that stress also plays a role in cardiovascular disease and musculoskeletal disorders.

Psychologically, long term work-related stress can cause the onset of mental health conditions like depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, eating disorders, nervous breakdown, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Anger is an emotional response related to your own interpretation of having been threatened.


Anger is often a reaction to your personal boundaries being violated, and some people have a natural tendency to react to anger with retaliation. It may sometimes be effective when being used to establish boundaries, or to enable escape from dangerous situations.

It is a normal emotion, albeit one that involves a strong, uncomfortable and emotional response to a perceived provocation.

Anger has been described as like a pressure cooker: you can only contain your anger for a certain amount of time until you explode!


Anger may show itself in physical ways, such as increased:

  • heart rate
  • blood pressure
  • levels of adrenaline

It is also an emotion which triggers part of the ‘fight or flight’ brain response to impending or perceived danger.

Anger is usually the predominant feeling – behaviourally, cognitively, and physiologically – when you make a conscious choice to take action to stop any threatening behaviour towards you from someone else.

It can also have a number of physical and mental consequences.

External expressions of anger can be found in:

  • facial appearance
  • body language
  • physiological responses
  • public acts of aggression

For example, when angry both humans and animals make loud sounds, attempt to look physically larger, bare their teeth, and stare.

These are designed to warn aggressors to stop their threatening behaviour. Rarely does a physical altercation occur without a prior expression of anger by at least one of the participants.

While many people who experience anger explain its cause as a result of “what has happened to them,” psychologists point out that an angry person can often be mistaken – because anger causes a loss of self-monitoring capacity and objectivity.

Nowadays most psychologists view anger as a primary, natural, and mature emotion, experienced by virtually all humans at some time and that suppressing anger can sometimes have possible harmful effects.

Anger is an emotion that has functional value for survival – it can mobilize psychological resources for corrective action.

Uncontrolled anger, on the other hand, can negatively affect personal or social well-being.contrast to earlier writers, have also pointed out the possible harmful effects of suppressing anger.

Domestic Abuse

Domestic abuse or violence happens when two people in a family – or two people who are dating, living together, married or have children together – engage in behaviour where one hurts or bullies the other.

This abuse doesn’t always have to be physical – it can be a combination of:

  • emotional
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial

Men are often the abusers – women usually the victims (the ones getting hurt), but domestic violence can happen to men too. Sometimes another member of the family – an uncle, an aunt, a grandparent or a sibling – might be the abuser, hurting someone else in the family.


Family relationships are complex and there are many situations and problems that can affect them.

Triggers for domestic violence can be:

  • unexpected events such as redundancy, illness or death
  • changes such as moving house, having a new baby or having parents move into the same home.

Some relationships are highly stressful by their very nature, for example when one partner is:

  • an alcoholic
  • having affairs
  • suffering from a long-term illness

These can all put substantial pressure on a relationship – the resulting stress, anxiety or depression often manifesting itself in domestic violence.

Another trigger can be co-dependency – where one member of the family has a strong desire to control those around them. They may have good intentions – even trying to take care of other family members who are having difficulties – but these good intentions can become compulsive and defeating.

Due to an inability to say ‘no’ to any requests made of them, the co-dependent can become the victim of an abusive relationship – believing that if they are loving enough they can change the abuser’s behaviour.


Every family is different – and it’s normal for family members to argue sometimes when they don’t agree on something. Every family has disagreements, but a lot of continual fighting and shouting in the home is not only upsetting but could also indicate that abuse is occurring.

Home is somewhere you should feel supported and protected. No one should be hurting anyone else. If this is not the case and you no longer feel safe at home – if you’re afraid of someone getting hurt or you’re even scared of getting hurt yourself – then things are probably not right.

In a relationship, there are ups and downs – sometimes people say and do things to each other in the heat of the moment that are unpleasant.

It’s important to recognise that there’s a vast difference between the normal arguments and disagreements people in families have from time to time, and the sort of ongoing violent behaviour that is called domestic abuse.


Fear is an emotion brought on by a perceived threat, which can cause alterations to your brain and body functions. In an extreme situation, fear can result in a change in behaviour, such as running away, hiding or becoming traumatised by events.


Fear usually occurs in response to a specific situation, either now or the future, which you perceive as being a threat to your:

  • health or life
  • status
  • power
  • security
  • wealth
  • anything you hold valuable


The fear response is caused by a perception of danger, leading to a confrontation with – or escape from/avoiding – the threat (also known as the ‘fight-or-flight’ response).

In extreme cases of fear – horror or terror – this response can be freezing or paralysis.

In humans and animals, fear is regulated by understanding and learning. It can either be rational (appropriate) or irrational (inappropriate). Irrational fear is called a phobia.

Fear is distinct from – but closely related to – anxiety, which occurs as the result of threats that are seem as uncontrollable or unavoidable.

The fear response aids survival by generating appropriate behavioural responses, so it has been preserved throughout evolution.


Social isolation is when you have a complete or near-complete lack of contact with other people in society. It is not the same as the loneliness you experience as the result of a temporary lack of contact with others.

Social isolation can be an issue for anyone, whatever their age. Different age groups may show different symptoms to others – for example, children have different social contacts to those of adults.


Social isolation can be either:

  • self-imposed
  • the result of a historical lifelong isolation cycle

Feelings of loneliness, fear of others, or negative self-esteem have the potential to produce very severe psychological problems.

True social isolation over a long period is a chronic condition, which affects all aspects of a person’s existence. They have no one to turn to in personal emergencies, no one to confide in during a crisis, and no one to measure their own behaviour against. This prevents them from seeing how other people behave and act in similar situations.


Social isolation can lead to:

  • staying home for days or weeks at a time
  • having no communication with anyone, including family or even the most peripheral of acquaintances or friends
  • wilfully avoiding any contact with other people, even when opportunities arise.

When socially isolated people do manage to go out into public, any social interactions they have are usually brief and superficial.

Lack of regular and consistent contact with other people can also be a cause of conflict with any – marginal – friends that a socially-isolated person might occasionally talk to, perhaps even family members.

The day to day effects of this type of deep-rooted social isolation can result in:

  • staying at home for days or even weeks at a time – due to lack of access to social situations rather than any desire to be alone
  • not contacting – or not being contacted by – acquaintances, even peripherally
  • never being called by anybody on the telephone
  • never having visitors at home
  • a lack of meaningful, extended relationships – both emotional and physical – especially close intimacy .


Anxiety is an unpleasant state of inner turmoil – often accompanied by nervous behaviour, such as pacing back and forth, physical complaints and worry – resulting from feelings of dread over anticipated events.

Anxiety is the expectation of a future threat – as opposed to fear, which is a response to a real or perceived immediate threat.


There are several different types of anxiety:

  • Existential anxiety can occur when you:
    • feel guilt or remorse
    • worry about yourself or how other people see you
    • have a moral or religious crisis of confidence
  • Performance anxiety can affect you when you:
    • face a test
    • find mathematics difficult
    • have stage fright
    • worry about your looks
  • Social anxiety can occur if you:
    • are apprehensive around strangers
    • find being in the company of other people unsettling


Anxiety – either as a short term ‘state’ or a long term ‘trait’ – is a feeling of fear, worry, and uneasiness (usually generalized and unfocused) that is the result of an overreaction to a situation that is subjectively seen as menacing.

It is often accompanied by:

  • muscular tension
  • restlessness
  • fatigue
  • problems with concentration

Anxiety can be an appropriate feeling in certain circumstances but, when it is too much and continues for too long, it may be that you are suffering from an anxiety disorder.

People with anxiety may withdraw from – or try and avoid – situations which have provoked their anxiety in the past.

Caring For An Adult

If you are caring for an adult member of your own family or a close friend, due to old age, illness or disability, it can take a huge physical, emotional, and financial toll.

Kernos is currently offering a free service – Counselling for Carers – which gives you the chance for a confidential chat with a qualified counsellor to help you to deal with any worries, concerns and feelings you may have about your caring role.

Why you may need help

Becoming a Carer is often a challenge, particularly if you feel ill-prepared and overwhelmed by what you have to do. You may have particular concerns about the difficulties you’re experiencing.

These might include:

  • stress, anxiety
  • depression
  • loneliness or bereavement
  • feelings of isolation, or of being trapped
  • guilt or resentment
  • difficulty adapting to changing roles
  • loss, exhaustion,
  • conflicting demands and emotions
  • anticipatory grief
  • fear of the future

The situation can often be made worse by feeling that no one truly knows and appreciates the complex and challenging nature of the circumstances you face as a result of your caring situation.

Often it can be difficult to seek help for yourself, especially when you naturally feel the person you care for needs the help more.

At Kernos we fully understand this dilemma, but we also know that talking to a counsellor can bring significant benefits, not only for you but also the person you care for. By talking together, in confidence, we will get a good understanding of the difficulties that you are facing and work out ways to help you cope.

We can then help you by providing invaluable high quality emotional support, together with practical advice suited to the specific needs of your particular situation.

Why the counselling is free

Kernos applied for and won an Innovation Grant from Suffolk County Council to provide one-to-one counselling support, specifically aimed at helping Family Carers – people over 18 caring for an adult family member or close friend.

The Grant award enables us to offer confidential, one-to-one, weekly counselling sessions for between 40 to 50 Family Carers free until the funding is used, with invaluable high quality practical and emotional support tailored to each Carer’s needs.

Respite care is part of the deal

We can also offer free respite care for the person you look after while you are having counselling.

We have arrangements with the following partner agencies to provide this:

  • The Bridge Project
  • The Befriending Scheme
  • Eden Rose Coppice
  • Age UK Suffolk
  • Crossroads

Other Issues, Difficulties or Concerns

At the Kernos Centre we can also help you cope with a wide range of life’s other issues, difficulties or concerns too.

Please talk to us if you are suffering from, or experiencing the effects of:

  • Parental mental illness
  • Emotional, physical, psychological or sexual abuse
  • Addiction – either your own, in your family or of a friend
  • Adoption or fostering
  • Bereavement and grieving
  • Any sort of eating disorder
  • Family breakup
  • Issues to do with your health
  • Concerns about your identity
  • Problems with personal growth
  • A crisis in your life
  • Police or social services involvement with you, your family or friends
  • Post traumatic stress syndrome
  • Dealing with rape
  • Relationship issues
  • Problems at school
  • Concerns about your sexuality
  • Suicide – either of a family member or friend, or if you have entertained suicidal thoughts of your own

Whatever is troubling you, a confidential conversation with one of our fully accredited and sympathetic counsellors is often the best way to deal with these – or any other – concerns.

Details of how to seek our help – by getting in touch with us either by e-mail, phone or in person – are given on the Contact Us page.