In therapy, people learn to cope with symptoms of mental health conditions that may not be treated right away. According to research, the benefits of therapy are longer-lasting than medication.
While medication can reduce some symptoms of mental health conditions, therapy teaches people the skills to deal with them on their own. These skills can be used even after therapy ends, and symptoms may continue improving, reducing the need for patients to undergo further treatment.
Mental health issues are more prevalent than we know. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, 1 out of every 5 adults in the U.S lives suffers from a mental health condition. In comparison, 1 in 25 adults has a severe mental health condition. However, only about 40% of people with mental health conditions seek help. Untreated mental health issues often become worse and may result in:
- Failure to perform everyday tasks
- Difficulty in handling relationships
- Heightened risk of health issues
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 10 and 34, and about 90% of them lived with a mental health issue.
“DO I NEED THERAPY?”
Encouraging a loved one to look into possible therapy options, or offering to review potential therapists with them might be a better way to express your support. People who feel coerced into therapy may feel defiant and find it more challenging to put in the effort to make the needed change.
Therapy is recommended for people suffering any type of mental health or emotional concern that interferes with daily life and function. Therapy can help you come in terms with your feelings, why you might be feeling it, and how to cope with it. Therapy is also a safe place to discuss life challenges like breakups, grief, or family struggles.
“SHOULD I GO TO THERAPY?”
You may need some time to decide whether you’re ready for therapy. You might want to wait to see if time, adequate support, and lifestyle changes, help improve your condition.
The American Psychological Association recommends therapy when you are experiencing one or more of these conditions:
- Dealing with the issue takes up at least an hour of your day
- The issue is causing you embarrassment or makes you want to be on your own
- The issue has decreased the quality of your life
- The issue has negatively affected your school, work, or relationships
- You’ve made significant changes in your life or acquired habits to cope with the issue
In the same way, experiencing any of the emotions or feelings mentioned below in a way that they interfere with your everyday life, may require therapy to treat. It’s also especially important to consider getting help if you feel constrained by symptoms or if it’s becoming harmful for you or other people.
Overwhelmed. You might be feeling like you have too much on your plate to the point that you can’t rest or even breathe. Being stressed and overwhelmed can lead to severe physical health concerns.
Fatigue. This physical symptom is often a result of dealing with mental health issues and can indicate depression. Fatigue can result in oversleeping or lethargy, especially in the morning.
Disproportionate rage, anger, or resentment. All of us get angry at times, and it isn’t necessarily harmful. However, if the feeling of rage doesn’t pass, becomes disproportionate to the situation, or causes you to harm yourself or others, it’s best to seek support to help you deal with your feelings.
Agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is the fear of places or situations that might cause panic attacks or make you feel trapped. This anxiety disorder can sometimes make it hard for some people to leave their houses.
Anxious or intrusive thoughts. It’s natural to worry about things once in a while. Still, when you start spending a significant part of your day worrying about something, or if it causes physical symptoms, therapy can help you cope with it.
Apathy. Being disinterested in daily activities, the world around you, or life in general, can be indicatory of mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.
Hopelessness. Discouragement, or feeling as if you have no future, can be a sign of depression or another mental health condition. While feeling hopeless after a period of difficulty is considered normal, it may lead to suicidal thoughts when it becomes persistent.
Social withdrawal. Spending some time alone can make someone feel better, especially introverted people. However, if you feel distressed around other people or fear of being around them, therapy can help you sort out these feelings.
“I ALREADY TRIED THERAPY, AND IT DIDN’T WORK.”
Other factors can impact the effectiveness of therapy, and there is no single, correct approach that will work for everyone. In the same way, not every therapist will work for everyone. Having an unpleasant experience with a particular therapist or a specific type of treatment can make it challenging to try therapy again, even if you want to get some support.
The best option is to look for a therapist who specializes in treating what you’re experiencing. If you don’t have a diagnosis yet, you can discuss your symptoms with potential therapists. An upright therapist will let you know if they’re able to treat your condition and recommend someone who can.
Remember that different issues may require different approaches. Being misdiagnosed can impact how the treatment works. If you didn’t feel heard in a previous therapy or experiencing different symptoms now, a new therapist might work better for you.
“WHY SHOULD I GO TO THERAPY?”
If you’re contemplating on getting therapy, you may be considering the possible drawbacks. You might be concerned with the cost. You might also be frightened about remembering painful events from the past, much less discuss it with someone else.
Working through trials is never easy, and therapy isn’t a quick fix. Therapy will also require you to be honest with yourself and with your therapist. But if you’re willing to work through it, therapy can be rewarding. It’s a safe space free of judgment where you can share anything with a trained professional whose goal is to help.
Here are more benefits of therapy:
You’ll discover more about yourself. When therapists hear your story, they can help you make connections and offer guidance or recommendations if you feel lost. They won’t tell you what to do but empower you to take your own action.
Therapy can support you in setting and achieving your goals. If you have no clear idea of your goals, therapy can help you clarify them and come up with realistic measures to meet them.
Therapy can help you have better relationships. Therapy can help you address problems in how you relate to other people, such as insecurity in relationships or the inability to trust your partner.
Your health will likely improve. Research shows a direct link between the mind and body. Mental health issues can take a toll on physical health, but people with healthy emotional well-being may be more capable of dealing with physical health issues that arise.
Therapy can improve all areas of your life. If you feel like something is holding you back from living the life you want, but you aren’t sure what’s keeping you from making change, therapy can help you find the answer.
If you aren’t sure you want to commit to therapy, many therapists offer a free initial phone consultation to discuss your issues and encourage you to get the right kind of help based on your symptoms.
Phyllis Tonkin is a licensed psychotherapist, counselor, and social worker who can help you with your mental health and relationship challenges. If you are based in Houston, Texas, and looking for support, please do so by reaching out to Phyllis Tonkin at 713-668-6666, 713-206-5156, or [email protected]. We are willing to listen, night or day.