Anxiety and depression are so common that 1 in 5 Australians will suffer from it this year. People don’t think of mental illness as being as common as the common cold but it almost is! Not only that but 65% of Australians will receive no treatment for their mental illness. So, what to do?
The most common Psychological treatments are called Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Rational Emotive Therapy (RET) – both are very effective treatments for milder anxiety and depression. When your emotional control has gone and you are very agitated or in a panic then you may require medication to get a grip on your mental health BEFORE you can use the psychological techniques.
CBTand RET originated in the 1960’s. They are based on the premise that:
- How you think affects how you behave– for example, if you hear a noise on the roof and you think it is the neighbourhood cat you will respond differently than if you think the noise is a burglar trying to break into your house!
- Thinking patterns can be changed – if you tend to be pessimistic, an excessive worrier and have a demanding outlook you can learn to change these.
- Psychological techniques (such as CBT and RET) can be used to used to improve thinking patters – leading to more constructive behaviours and better coping mechanisms. For example expanding your circle of friends instead of staying at home lonely and discouraged.
So when people are depressed they have a:
- Negative view of themselves
- Negative view of their circumstances
- Negative view of their future.
Change the way you think and you will change the way you feel.
DO I NEED MEDICATION?
When anxiety or depression is overwhelming Psychological techniques can’t work because the emotional distress is so great that first the distress needs to be tamed. Think of breaking your leg, first you need to have the leg mended before you can start the physiotherapy. Depending on how bad the fracture is, you may need to have the plate and pins left for years. Think of being on medication for years in the same way. It works!
HOW CAN I GET HELP?
Psychological therapies and medications often need to be combined for the best result. The good news that you can get psychological therapies very cheaply or free on e-health web sites such as MoodGym and MindSpot or THISWAYUP. Medications can be obtained from your GP or by seeing a Specialist (Psychiatrist)- either in person or via video conference.