A Guide to Mental Health Treatment

People suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems often feel alone and don’t know where to turn for help. This guide will walk you through 10 common ways people look for help, explaining the positives and negatives of each.

10 Ways to Get Help

1. Friends and Family

People often turn to close friends and family first. Positives:
This is a healthy way to deal with stress and mild symptoms of depression and anxiety and is usually a good idea.

Negatives: Friends and family may not have a good understanding of mental health problems which can lead to frustration for both parties. If your symptoms persist or get worse, this can place a strain on your relationships. If this occurs, it is a good idea to seek professional help for your symptoms.

2. Self Help

Self-help books and videos can be very helpful and are readily available

There have been numerous recent studies in the medical literature showing that self-administered treatments are effective. Going to a book store and looking through titles can be helpful, or just look on-line.

Self-help involves an element of “self-diagnosis.” If you feel like you are not getting better, you should seek a professional assessment.

3. Religion/Spirituality

Spiritual practices and organized religious groups can be helpful. Much like friends and family, this is common place to turn for help.

Positives: Can offer short term help, but also can provide life-long meaning and fulfillment. May also provide a sense of community and support.

Negatives: Sometimes, misguided individuals in spiritual communities can discourage people from seeking professional help, however, this is rare.

4. Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy involves seeing a licensed professional for talk therapy.

Speaking with a trained
therapist about your problems and mental health symptoms can be very therapeutic and effective. We have patterns of thoughts and emotions running through our minds, a psychotherapist can help you think and “feel” about your problems in a different way. Negatives:
Psychotherapy can be a big-time commitment and can be expensive depending on insurance coverage (though the benefit is usually worth the cost for most patients).

5. Psychiatric Evaluation

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor that can prescribe psychiatric medications.
Psychiatric medications can give life changing results in a short time period for some people.
Psychiatric medications can have side effects, or even make things worse in rare cases. Seeing a good psychiatrist, who doesn’t push medications as the only solution to your problems, usually reduces the chance of any harm from medications, the worst that would happen is the medications may not work for you.

6. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

FDA approved treatment for depression and certain anxiety disorders, using a pulsed magnetic field.
TMS can give life changing results without the side effects of medications, even for people who have tried medications without much benefit. TMS is now covered by most insurance plans.

The treatment requires daily sessions for 5-6 weeks, and some insurance plans require you to take medications before they will cover the treatment.

7. Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Medically induced controlled seizure under anesthesia.
Statistically, the most effective treatment for depression and other mental health problems. Usually covered by insurance.

Significant short-term side effects are possible, risk of anesthesia and the ECT procedure. Need to take time off from work for the acute series.

8. Intensive Treatment Programs (IOP)

Positives: Intensive treatment that is 3-5 times a week without needing to stay in the hospital overnight. Individual and group treatment sessions provide maximum benefit in a short time. Negatives: These programs require a significant time commitment and depending on insurance coverage can be expensive.

9. Inpatient Treatment

Acute care for someone in crisis.
Provides safety and daily care aimed at immediate relief from symptoms. Negatives:
Can be an intense experience, especially if involuntary treatment is involved.

10. Alternative Medicine

Treatments such as acupuncture, therapeutic yoga, supplements, and other modalities.
Evidence may exist for the benefit of these treatments, even if they are still considered alternative in the mental health field. These treatments can work in conjunction with traditional psychiatric treatments.

These treatments are outside the scope of a traditional psychiatric practices, so your psychiatrist or psychotherapist may not be able to give you detailed information about the risks and the benefits of their use.