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When Therapy Doesn’t Work

0 2 years ago

For many people, therapy is a treatment of last resort. A depressed person, for instance, might delay therapy for months or even years, only to give in when his symptoms become so terrible that anything seems preferable to living another day with depression. Because therapy patients often view therapy as a panacea—and one which they’ll only try when life gets impossible—the disappointment you feel when therapy doesn’t work can be deep, cutting, and profoundly demoralizing.

Mental illness is just like any other health condition, though. Whether it’s difficulty coping with stress or something more serious, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, the first treatment doesn’t always work. If you had heart disease, you wouldn’t throw up your hands and give up if your first medication didn’t yield results, so don’t do the same with therapy! If therapy has failed you, you still have plenty of options for feeling better.

Ask Your Therapist About Next Steps

If therapy isn’t working, the first person you should talk to is your therapist. She may opt to change her approach to treatment, pursue more “homework” options for you, or even refer you to another therapist. Be sure to ask the following questions:

• How long should it take for me to see results?

• What treatment method are we using, and is it too early to try a different approach?

• Is there anything I can do to increase the efficacy of therapy?

• Could medication help? What about lifestyle changes?

Pursue Lifestyle Changes

Therapy is just one step in your treatment journey, not the whole journey. One of the greatest benefits of therapy is that your therapist can give you the confidence and strength you need to pursue lifestyle treatments. A good therapist can also recommend changes you can make that might improve your prognosis. Every person is different, and every mental health condition demands slightly different treatment. Generally speaking, though, the following lifestyle changes can often help you combat mental illnesses:

• Developing a regular schedule and taking time each day to plan your day. Remember, time is exactly like money, and by budgeting your time, you may find you have more of it—not to mention less stress.

• Take steps to ensure your lifestyle and environment are healthy. If you are in an abusive relationship, leave. If conflict with loved ones is an ongoing problem, work to resolve these conflicts.

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