So last week was Mental Health (MH) Awareness week. We all find time to go to see the GP if we are feeling unwell and can't shift a cough or cold. We all also find time to go for regular dental check-ups unless we are phobic. We will go and see a Physiotherapist if we are experiencing muscle or back pain.
What do we do when our Mental Health is not quite balanced? Many of us worry about it which makes us more anxious and can lead to sleep deprivation. This can become a circle of depression, anxiety and sleeplessness. Often feeling low in mood or anxious only lasts a few hours to a few weeks and we start to feel more like ourselves again within a short period of time. So what is the best course of action if you've felt low in mood and/or anxious for a prolonged period of three weeks or more?
The first stop is a trip to our GP. Blood tests to rule out hormone changes and/or imbalances as well as diabetes, IBS and a number of easily treatable physical health conditions can really change your life. So, you've been to see your GP and it seems that it is Mental Health, sometimes a person can be experiencing a serotonin imbalance (chemicals in the brain that regulate mood) and genuinely need anti-depressants. What your GP won't tell you is that this only accounts for 10% of people who have been low in mood and/or anxious for three weeks or more.
For 90% of people who are experiencing symptoms of depression and/or anxiety for a prolonged period of time they actually are experiencing an imbalance of emotion not serotonin based on something in their present or past that they won't acknowledge or deal with. It is very common to want to put a thought or memory in a box in a cupboard in your head with a locked door and try to forget about it. It is easy to understand why people prefer to medicate with anti-depressants than face what is scary behind that door. Unfortunately what regularly happens is that the boxes behind that locked cupboard door mount up and the hinges break. This leads to feelings of despair, hopelessness, emotional outbursts such as anger or crying for no obvious reason.
Other common reasons for feeling an emotional imbalance is the inability to cope with a major life change such as coming to terms with a long term physical health condition, bereavement, abuse either present or in the past and many other reasons.
As a therapist I often check in with my own Mental Health (MH). I understand that if my MH is off balance then I can't offer effective therapy to my clients, it also impacts on my home and social life. I often feel that it is perfectly normal like visiting the dentist to book a session or two with my own therapist to offload and understand any life changes or stresses I am experiencing.
Think for a minute about your own Mental Health, if anything is not quite right or you have been sitting on something for a while book in to see a therapist that you feel will work towards your needs. Take time to read the profile of all available counsellors in your local area and choose one that you feel will meet those needs, try a session with them and don't feel afraid to tell a therapist that you feel their style is not for you and try another one. It is your therapy, you are free to work with a therapist that you feel is working well towards your goals.
I hope you had a good Mental Health Awareness Week. Wishing you all good Mental Health.