Importance of seeking out professional help to treat mental illnesses

By Sojin Shin || Op-Eds Editor

Photo Courtesy of fandm.edu

It is often said that depression is like the common cold. Most people experience it at least once in their lives, and sometimes it disappears on its own. Feeling a little blue is a natural thing, perhaps even a good thing that gives us a moment to think about ourselves.

However, we should remember that even the common cold can develop into a more severe disease without proper treatment. Recurrent depressive thoughts, lethargy, and a sense of despair could be signs of chronic illnesses. They could be detrimental to one’s life in work, classes, or even within encounters with close friends. Self-care might work for mild symptoms, but professional help is absolutely necessary in these severe cases. 

There are multiple forms of care one can seek. One of the more accessible methods F&M provides is counselling. All students have up to eight free counselling sessions. Even though the time needed to observe significant improvement through counselling depends per person, counselling is generally accepted as an effective therapy method. Not only that, counselling can also be useful in short-term stress relief. It doesn’t take a formal diagnosis of depression, anxiety, or any other personality disorder in order for one to seek counselling services. Over-extension or build up of stress can be harmful as well. If you are feeling more stressed or moody than usual, consider taking advantage of the resource. Most people would agree that eating healthy, exercising, and taking vitamins are good ways to take care of the body. However, it is just as crucial to be attentive to one’s thoughts.

Counseling is sometimes paired with administration of psychotropic drugs. This requires a prescription from a certified medical professional. In fact, one should never attempt to self-medicate or acquire these drugs in any other way. For one thing, it’s illegal. Second, badly administered dosages can actually worsen the symptoms. Dosage and the type of the drugs depend heavily on individual factors including body weight, genetic history, pre-existing conditions, and even the weather and environment in which a person lives. Also, there are numerous types of drugs available even for the same condition. For instance, antidepressants include groups of serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and so on. Their side effects vary from weight gain or loss, coronary malfunction, headaches, and even dry mouth. You don’t want to mess with that. Lastly, it is important to always consult your medical professional when you want to stop taking psychotropic drugs. Suddenly stopping the administration of these drugs can cause withdrawal symptoms that are both psychologically and physically devastating.

One of the most important things about treating mental illness is finding a way that works the best for you. The above mentioned two, usually used in combination, are the most standard ways to treat any form of mental illnesses. Still, there are also other types of therapy one can seek: art therapy, music therapy, or behavioral therapy. Counseling services are often specialized based on the counselor’s expertise, which varies from general psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and far more. While the most important thing to remember is to consult a medical professional that will plan an adequate approach, options are always open. Do not give up because one method did not work. There will always be a way.

Sophomore Sojin Shin is the Op-Eds Editor. Her email is sshin@fandm.edu.

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