The No-Therapy Option

The No-Therapy Option

Pain and suffering from mental health problems is widespread. Fortunately, a cure does not require everyone to see a therapist or take psychiatric medication. Mental distress and its resolution has existed for all time, and we can employ other tried and true methods to bring relief. True, psychotherapy can enable more people to suffer less, and enjoy life more, but there are less expensive and often equally good alternatives. Before we examine when therapy might be useful, let’s look at the extent of most mental health problems, and how we might cope without psychotherapy.

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the official USA government body responsible for monitoring the health of our country, “Depression is the most common type of mental illness, affecting more than 26% of the U.S. adult population.” (Retrieved 7/20/2017 from Shocking? They also found, “In a nationally representative face-to-face household survey, 6.7% of U.S. adults experienced a major depressive episode in the past 12 months.” (Retrieved 7/20/2017 from

Anxiety, another common problem, is a diagnostic category that includes panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, and separation anxiety disorder, (DSM-IV) has a lifetime prevalence of over 15%, and a 12-month prevalence of over 10%. That means that 15 out of 100 people will succumb to one of the anxiety disorders in their lifetime, and that 10% of our population is suffering from anxiety every 12 months. 

And, even if your depression and anxiety does not necessarily reach the level a clinical condition, the CDC says 9.4% of U.S. adults admitted that out of the past 30 days, their mental health was “not that good”.

That’s a lot of depressed, anxious people and a lot more who are feeling not that good. 

The nation’s state of mental health is even worse than that. These numbers do not include many other psychiatric conditions like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and personality disorders. As you can conclude, the likelihood is overwhelming that you - or someone you care about - will need to deal with a mental health problem. Should we all have a psychologist on speed dial?

Fortunately, life offers other options that can reduce or eliminate distressing depressions and anxieties. Just because such remedies are simple, free and available to almost everyone, does not mean that they are easily implemented. Here’s why: they involve lifestyle changes to eating, exercise, sleep, and socializing. It can be extremely difficult to maintain a healthy diet, get sufficient exercise and sleep, and develop satisfying personal relationships. But the science is strong and undeniable. Significant reductions in depression and anxiety are strongly associated with improving one’s lifestyle.

So when do you need therapy? If you can’t modify your lifestyle on your own, you need help. If you have a healthy lifestyle and still you suffer, you need help. If life has presented an issue that you know you needs improvement that you can’t seem to accomplish, get help. If others who care about you are telling you that you need help, get help. Still, before you call that therapist, why not try a self-help book? There are some good ones out there. Browse. Try one or two. Get advice and from reputable sources, books, blogs, and friends. Don’t keep doing the same things. But, if you still feeling not that good, too anxious or depressed, or stuck in a seemingly unchangeable situation, you will be better off by trying to do something different.

If you continue to feel anxious or depressed or not  feeling that good, then it’s time to get help from a psychotherapist. Depressions and anxieties usually yield to modern yet well-established psychotherapy treatments. Most importantly, with or without psychotherapy, suffering is not always inevitable.

Look at the article in the New York Times


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