As the year comes to a close, some of us may be thinking about new beginnings like New Year resolutions and also to what the year ahead will bring.
Some of us may be wanting to rid ourselves of past memories and start the new year off with a fresh, new mindset.
And you have options, yes, options!
Some of these options are going to speak to the GP about either medication or counselling, or you may decide that you want the option of finding your own counsellor, with a choice of person and mode of therapy.
Counselling and psychotherapy are increasingly being depicted on TV and I am hoping there is now a better idea out there about what it really is. Although, it may still be viewed by some as a scary process, lying on a couch with the counsellor in the background asking questions about our childhood and to an extent these themes of Freud are still relevant today with their longevity in the many counselling theories available.
Medications, on the other hand, can be a blunt way of treating mental distress. They are chosen as a quick fix, but actually can be lifesavers for some people.
The History Bit
If we go waaaayyyyyyy back in time, the expression of human emotion was usually expressed in some ritualised way, whether that was a confession, prayers or groups.
In about the 1880’s mental distress shifted towards the medical model, with the thought that distress originated solely from genetics and that it can be completely fixed by drugs.
Then, in the 20th Century, Freud developed Psychoanalysis and the understanding of mental distress came away from the medical model and it became more about what distress actually meant for the person.
Nowadays, mental distress is seen in more of a balanced way with genetics definitely playing a part, but also our environment and psychology.
Today we have the choice of both therapy and medications, or both!
I have written a blog about the benefits of counselling which you can see here
I guess the downside to counselling is that it is no quick fix. It takes work, commitment and time to build the relationship with the counsellor. Sometimes we aren’t ready to totally face ourselves, and in some cases, counselling can be expensive.
For some, drugs are a godsend. They enable the person to engage in a normal life once more and also get better enough to engage in therapy. It does only look at the biological aspect, so can be reductionist, pushing aside the psychology and environment.
There of course can be side effects. Drugs are used to target areas of the brain, however, in doing so can affect other parts such as sleep, taste, libido and emotions. Withdrawal from these can also be a problem, sometimes it’s a difficult thing to go through.
With drugs comes a diagnosis, which can be helpful in the fact that it makes the distress a ‘thing’, takes away blame and opens the doors to other treatments.
A diagnosis could, however, dis-empower the person as they may not think they have a responsibility now to get past their issues.
NICE in 2009 found that therapy was in fact equal to medications in treatment outcomes in the short term and actually better in the long term.
So, there are many pros and cons to your options and making a decision on which way to go may take some research and time, also it may be difficult to do alone.
But coming to the decision that you would like to do something
about the way you feel is a huge step in itself!
As always, if you need any help along the way, you know where I am.