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Mental Health Use this forum to share your mental health concerns and to seek advice.

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  (#1 (permalink)) Old
Grizabella Offline
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Alternatives to therapy - January 15th 2010, 03:53 AM

I started seeing social workers and psychologists when I was 12, and was diagnosed with depression and general anxiety. I started with a social worker and was with her about 5 or 6 months, at which point my mother and I decided it was doing very little for me. The family centre where we were seeing her then transferred me to a psychologist, and I was with her another year or so. She was nice, but communication between us just wasn't working, and again, I didn't feel that therapy was making much of a difference for me. At some point when she realized that the approach she was using wasn't working as well as she'd hoped, she suggested it might be helpful to combine our therapy with anti-depressants, and I was sent down a floor to see the centre's psychiatrist. At this point, the anxiety was pretty much under control, it was the depression we'd seen no improvement in. I saw the psychiatrist for about a half hour session, and she prescribed some combination of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds - I can't remember precisely what she prescribed me, just that the anxiety medication was on the high end of doses given to my age group, from what our family doctor told us. I don't want to go too far into the problems between me and this particular psychiatrist, just suffice to say that we are by far not the only people in that town who are less than impressed with her services.

So on the advice of the family doctor we didn't fill the anxiety prescription, and I started taking the anti-depressants. I continued therapy, and at best my overall moods changed from mostly sad to not feeling much of either happiness or sadness. I saw the psychologist a month or two longer, and then stopped. I definitely wasn't better, but I guess I was at a point where I could function better. Some kind of health warning came out about the medicine I was on, and I stopped using it and didn't get a replacement.

I stayed in that kind-of-ok-but-not-happy stage for a couple years, and then when I was about 17 started regressing back into the low moods again. There was a waiting list for the family centre this time, so I was seeing our city's school social worker in the mean time. If I had found the previous counselling not helpful, this woman I just felt was detrimental. She just seemed very distant and cold, pretty unsympathetic. I'd try expressing that it was frustrating taking so long to get back to the psychologist (not in a way that I was trying to criticize the system or say that people weren't trying to help, but just trying to vent the feelings). She gave me some kind of terse response that the centre has a lot of patients and they were trying to get me in as quickly as they could, and so that I shouldn't be angry with them, and that I had her in the meantime. After that I only saw her once every two or three weeks - I would have stopped completely, but our school had a policy that once a student was identified as being at risk, their social worker had to keep track of things. Which I guess makes sense, I just really could have used distance from her.

I got back into the family centre and saw a psychologist again (a different one) for help with the depression, and a social worker at an assault centre to deal with some more specific issues. I had the same issues I had the years before that, none of the counselling was really helping. The issue of medication came up again. After a too-high dose of anxiety meds and anti-depressants that had turned out to perhaps not be safe, my mom was really iffy on letting me try medication again. We talked it over with the psychologist (my mother certainly wasn't going to bring me back to the psychiatrist, the only one in town) and agreed to give new medication a try, and so we got the prescription from my family doctor that time.

I moved to another city for university, and kept up with the meds for a while. We have free counselling services at our school, so I saw a woman who was completing her PhD in psychology for a few months. She wasn't bad, I definitely appreciated having her. But I was still having the same problems as before. It was good to be able to go there and vent, and I felt good for a few hours after our sessions, but I just wasn't able to bring anything out of the appointments to help me in the long term. She was also good when a few crisis type incidences came up, and I'm very thankful for that, but in terms of overall improvement, I just don't feel therapy has been helping me much. It's like every time I go for therapy, it helps for a year or so, but then I just end up right back where I started.

That was a few months before I turned 19, and I'll be turning 20 in about 2 month. I'm still feeling some of the things I've been feeling for the past 8 years or so, but it's been changing too. I don't know that I'd still consider myself depressed, but something's wrong. I go through these really rapid cycles of up and down moods, and it's overwhelming. My sister I live with has her Master's degree in psychology, and I guess she's been noticing some odd behaviour in me and has expressed concern that I'm showing signs of being bipolar. I know that as my sister she doesn't have the objectivity that you want your particular psychologist to have, so I know I shouldn't take that at face value and just diagnose myself. But I do get concerned sometimes. When I'm doing something I enjoy, I get ecstatically happy and full of energy, but then I get these depressive episodes where I'm upset or sad or angry to the extreme. This happens extremely fast - several times in a day, and really it only takes a minute or two to go from feeling absolutely wonderful to feeling like complete crap, and with a few exceptions, I can't identify any triggers that cause it. I'm somewhat familiar with rapid-cycling in bipolar disorder, but I didn't think even that had moving from extremes so quickly. At any rate, I know I can't be diagnosed online, but after that long winded rambling, that's my backround so far as mental health goes.

With these extreme and rapid mood swings, I know I have to do something about them. It's exhausting, and I know I'm not going to be able to keep handling it. But given my previous experience with various kinds of therapies, I just don't have faith that seeing someone is going to help me. I'm sure psychologists and psychiatrists and social workers are very helpful to other people, so please don't think I'm trying to insult all their practices or label them as invalid fields, I just don't think they're good options for me. So I'm wondering about alternative ideas for trying to help me. I know some basic things like getting proper nutrition, exercise and sleep can go a long way, but I haven't been doing horribly in those departments (except for the sleep some nights). Are there any other suggestions for things I could look into doing?


Not around so much now that school's started

"Live a good life.
If there are gods and they are just,
then they will not care how devout you have been,
but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by.
If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them.
If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life
that will live on in the memories of your loved ones."
Marcus Aurelius
   
  (#2 (permalink)) Old
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Re: Alternatives to therapy - January 15th 2010, 04:36 AM

I have found that doing stuff like yoga, meditation, and experimental dance in conjunction with therapy was massively helpful for managing my anxiety, but I think that ultimately it's striking a personal balance. I wouldn't give up on therapy, because sometimes it just takes forever to find the right person to talk to, but I would consider it being not the only thing you do.


I am waylaid by Beauty. Who will walk
Between me and the crying of the frogs?

(My PM box is always open.. if I can't help you, I'll find someone who can)
   
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Re: Alternatives to therapy - January 15th 2010, 05:43 AM

Hey Jessica,

Have you tried alternative types of therapy, such as play-therapy or yoga for emotional healing? These are a little more unconventional, so they may work better for you than the mainstream therapy you have been recieving.

I also highly reccomend accupuncture. Accupuncture can aim to relieve depression and anxiety, as well as helping with flash-backs, mood swings, etcetera, etcetera. I've tried it, and it helped me a lot. I felt calm, content, almost like I was high after each treatment. I do believe that the accupuncture helped to propell me into recovery. Despite what you may think, it is not expensive. My accupuncurist charged on a sliding scale, and I recieved services for as low as $15 per treatment. It was a great price and a great option for me. Again, I highly reccomend you try it out.

However, it's important to keep in mind that there is no true alternative to therapy. Through out your recovery process, it is important to have regular visits with a trained professional, even as you try these alternative forms of healing.

Take care.


[/url]
"For the first time
in a long time,
I can say that I wanna try.
I feel helpless for the most part,
but I'm learning to open my eyes.
And the sad truth of the matter is,
I'll never get over it,
but I'm gonna try
to get better and overcome each moment
in my own way"

Motion City Soundtrack, "Even If It Kills Me"
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Re: Alternatives to therapy - January 15th 2010, 08:44 AM

Medications do not fix mental issues, they fix physical issues.

Infact, medications only supress mental issues, and can make things worse. You really should take a deep breath and pause life for a day or however long you need to just sit there in the quiet and think of nothing. Just let clouds pass by, itll give you time to calm down. Depression is rarely a physical aspect, which is a good thing. It can be countered with time and patience, upbeat moods even music makes a difference.
   
  (#5 (permalink)) Old
Grizabella Offline
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Re: Alternatives to therapy - January 15th 2010, 06:46 PM

Yoga and meditation would probably be good things to look into. I know I probably shouldn't completely disavow therapy, I'm just so hesitant right now to give it another shot. I can look into it I guess. It's just a bit hard when you're limited to using free therapy - really there's only two or three therapists open to me, so it can be difficult to find the right fit. I could consider medication again too - I just know that it's not going to do anything if I'm using it exclusively.

Quote:
Medications do not fix mental issues, they fix physical issues.
But physical issues, such as chemical and hormonal balances, can have a very large impact on mental issues, and medication can help to address them.


Not around so much now that school's started

"Live a good life.
If there are gods and they are just,
then they will not care how devout you have been,
but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by.
If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them.
If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life
that will live on in the memories of your loved ones."
Marcus Aurelius
   
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