Saturday, August 11, 2018

Self-help,Psychotherapy or Medication?

When you catch a disease you know exactly what to do:you go to a doctor,follow his advice and get cured.But a Mental Disorder is a different ballgame altogether.The treatment is delayed first of all because it's incipience can easily be misconstrued as a transitory emotional state and secondly because of the stigma attached to it.Any doubts that you might be on the threshold of a psychiatric illness are quickly expunged.

But when you finally realize that you might be suffering from,anxiety,depression,OCD,hypochondria or Bipolar Syndrome;there is no alternative but to do something about it.Educated people like you and I will search the internet and adopt self help measures to get relief.These might extend from a physical routine comprising exercise,jogging,yoga,pranayam and meditation to spirituality,going out,meeting people,and talking out our problems with friends or family.

But if any of this does not work,then?Obviously the next option ought to be consulting a counselor or a psychologist,but lots of people have compunctions about this, lest they be branded as a mental patient.In this way they unknowingly prolong their suffering and enable their problem to take deeper roots.

Therefore when you realize that your own efforts have failed to perk you up,psychotherapy is the next option.Look for a counselor or a psychologist.Find one with whom you can establish an easy rapport.This is important because only then will you be able to reveal your innermost thoughts which will hasten your recovery.Moreover you will follow the guidelines suggested by the counselor only if you trust him/her.

If psychotherapy too proves to be insufficient,consulting a doctor is the last resort.He will rule out the possibility of a disease being the cause of your problems and also prescribe the required medicines.But very few people go to a doctor for a mental affliction.

According to World Health Organization mental disorders affect one in four people at some point in their lives and nearly two- thirds of them will never seek help from a health professional.

Stigma is not the only factor which bars people from consulting a psychiatrist.There is a general distrust of psychiatric medicines and their side effects.These could range from nausea and vomiting,sleepiness,weight gain,diarrhea and sexual problems to other more serious ones. I am reminded of a lady who suffered from OCD. She has been on psychiatric medicines since many years,her symptoms have subdued but she is only a caricature of her old self.You can read her full story over here.

But we cannot condemn psychiatric medicines altogether.What if a patient is severely depressed,suicidal,or excessively violent?What if the symptoms shown by the patient far outweigh the side effects?WHO's report has this to say about the efficacy of psychiatric treatment:--

Over 80% of people with schizophrenia can be free of relapses at the end of one year of treatment with antipsychotic drugs combined with family intervention. Up to 60% of people with depression can recover with a proper combination of antidepressant drugs and psychotherapy. Up to 70% of people with epilepsy can be seizure free when treated with simple, inexpensive anticonvulsants.

At the end of the day I would say that the decision to take psychiatric medicine should be considered carefully.If you start the medicine but experience some ill effects,collaborate with your doctor and get it changed.Mental turmoil is extremely tiring for body and mind.It almost always disrupts sleep and this itself,creates a lot of stress.A sedative or a sleeping pill given by your doctor could provide enormous relief.

A short spell of medicine might even revitalize you enough to once again adopt one of the earlier two options.I have seen this happen.But if you wish to stop the medicine,then too do it under the doctor's guidance so that you do not have withdrawal symptoms.

Ideally,medicines should be accompanied by psychotherapy and lots of family support.The term 'family support'has been kept to the last but it's importance overcomes everything else.I say it from my own experience.

Stress,anxiety and the accompanying problems are omnipresent today.If you happen to be bogged down by such problems it does not reflect on you as a person,it is just a reflection of the countless demands being made from a person today.Look at the larger picture and you will perceive many saving graces too.


  1. Very logical writing with helful tips covering up some truths and facts of how people think.

  2. Mental disorders are on the rise. Timely help and support is much needed.

  3. Hi Indu, Very interesting and helpful points. Today life and the world around is far more complicated than what they used to be. Or, at least, we are seeing them as complicated! And, good guidance on these matters are so important.

  4. Hi Pradeep. Yes tensions are surely on the increase.No doubt yester-years were much more easy on the mind.
    Thank you for giving your view.


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