Therapy… The Right Way To Go
Life for many of us has been a rollercoaster. The trauma we experience haunts us if we don’t or refuse to seek professional help, it’s actually quite idiotic to refuse treatment. One method that is highly proved to be beneficial for these bad experiences also known as traumatic experiences is therapy. Therapy can be described as treatment intended to relieve or heal a traumatic experience that has occurred. Therapy is not everyone’s first option for method of treatment for traumatic experiences but it should be. Why? Therapy is a place to sit down and talk to someone who is trained to handle situations that are out of the ordinary and those trained professionals are there to guide you into the right direction. Why would anyone resist the obvious, best solution to their problem? Maybe they shouldn’t be allowed to. Young adults may feel reluctant to want to discuss their emotions to a stranger. While it’s understandable, it’s idiotic that our society permits its youth to suffer needlessly. A suggestion that could be put into place is that of forcing young adults into therapy rather than the voluntary choice which will increase the likelihood of them becoming outstanding members of society in the future. The option for success is that of forcing young adults who’ve experienced trauma into therapy.
The American and Depression Association of America (ADAA), published a sublet article on their website titled Facts & Statistics. In this article, the contributors give statistical data regarding various anxiety and depressive disorders such as: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Depression, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and many more. The overall concept of these disorders tends to explain that people who are suffering from them deal with nervousness and fear on a regular, more intense basis than what is considered normal. This can be due to the trauma one has endured in life. In the United States alone, 40 million people suffer from anxiety. If 40 million Americans suffer some degree of this mental illness, they must function well and hold down jobs for the most part; otherwise, we’d have a hard time holding our society together. One way to make sure our society’s mental health doesn’t plummet is by forcing these adults to go to therapy. It’s said that the earlier one is placed into therapy the faster it is to deal with their problems and make an effective plan to ensure their recovery at a steady pace. One of the leading causes of anxiety disorders in young adults arises from traumatic childhood life experiences such as abuse or neglect. Choosing to ignore their mental illness due to these experiences could lead to rebellion during the teen years which leads to substance abuse which then could lead to substance dependency. In an article titled The developmental course of anxiety symptoms during adolescence, the authors, Oort, Verhulst, Huizink and others discuss the transition into adolescence and the levels of anxiety that come with it. They describe early adolescence which can be considered the ages 13 to 15 as having low levels of anxiety due to starting to experience drama in school and the start of crushes. Middle adolescence which can be considered ages 15 to 16, bring an elevated level of anxiety to life with these teens wanting to start working and handling school work at the same time. Late adolescence which can be considered ages 16 to 18, teens are faced with even higher levels of anxiety with the pressure of more responsibility and life after high school slowly approaching. Imagine what the teens with traumatic experiences are feeling, those anxiety levels are going through the roof and need to be contained and controlled in a healthy manner. One way to guarantee this is by making teens go into therapy to discuss their issues so they can come out ready to face the real world after high school with the best chance of survival possible.
James P. McNulty, author of Commentary: Mental Illness, Society, Stigma, and Research, writes about the trails and tribulations he endures while suffering from bipolar disease, which is considered a mental illness. In the article, McNulty describes him having the perfect life but it comes to abrupt end when his mental illness gets in the way of him and his family. His wife divorces him after his many petty arguments and constant hurtful words towards her. With his entire world falling apart in front of him, McNulty decides he does not want to live anymore and attempts suicide at the age of 38. After repressing his feelings toward getting help for so long and his attempt at taking his own life, McNulty finally decides it’s time to get help. After losing everything and only having his car to show for his accomplishments in life, he is forced to give it up to be considered as a patient of the state’s psychological facility. McNulty experiences a form of discrimination/stigma against him when he is told by a nurse that people like him, with a mental illness, don’t go back to work. This is a reality that many people in our society who suffer from mental illness go through on a regular basis. That misconception that a mental illness forever impotent one’s abilities is toxic and should be forgotten. One of the more inappropriate examples of stigma against those with a mental illness has to be when McNulty describes a newspaper published by The Daily Trentonian. In that article, an image of a burning psychiatric hospital is shown with the caption of “Roasted Nuts.” It’s meant to portray a dehumanizing way of expression towards those who suffer from mental illness. Anyone in today’s society would find that to be offensive and not appropriate, especially those who currently suffer from a mental illness. Now one way to prevent those who are more likely to be offended by that horrible article would be to place those who suffer from a mental disorder into therapy. A study done that was published in an article titled Two-year course of generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder with agoraphobia in a sample of Latino adults, which was published by Bjornsson, Sibrava, Beard, Moitra and Weisberg claims that Latinos are more likely not to consider therapy an option as their culture makes those who attend therapy feel ashamed and is an over exaggeration. This is an example of why as a society we need to make therapy a wise and conscious decision for getting help so it can in turn influence other societies to do the same. Latinos are not as likely to recover from these mental illnesses as they lack support from their families and tend to not have access to these resources due to ignorance.
What young adults who do deal with mental illness will endure is stigma. Stigma can be defined as a mark of disgrace upon a person or group, in this case we are talking about those with a mental illness. In the article Stigma as a barrier to recognizing personal mental illness and seeking help: A prospective study among untreated persons with mental illness, the authors highlight the fact that stigma has been identified as a huge barrier in the help-seeking process. Studies have shown that one’s own stigmatizing attitude plays a far more important role for making the decision not to seek help, for this we can blame society as it has been frown upon that therapy even be considered an option for treatment of mental illness. Young adults are slowly killing themselves internally at a faster rate due to the fact of having low mental health. The complex process while difficult can be broken down into four steps: 1) Self-identifying as having a mental health problem, 2) Need for treatment, 3) Help-seeking intentions & 4) Help-seeking. If as a society we made it mandatory for those in need of aid, we can lower the rate of those who suffer from a mental illness substantially. One thing we can say about those with a mental illness is that they are more inclined to make decisions based on emotion and not fact or reality which can be dangerous in certain situations such as important life decisions or the type of relationships they allow.
The article Characteristics and one-year outcome of untreated anxiety and depression, details the work done by the Netherlands Study of Anxiety and Depression which illustrates what occurs to patients who have previously been diagnosed as having a mental illness. The 743 participating patients were placed into two categories: either having anxiety or depression. After collecting their answers from the surveys and converting it into data, researchers Beljouw and Verhaak concluded and presented the data into three separate categories. The first category, which was, those who expressed a need for care regarding mental disorders that could not be met came to a total of 371 patients. That is half of the patients who stated they felt a need for care but it was not met due to the resources not being around or cost. As a society we need to ensure we give everyone an equal opportunity in life. We cannot blame those who have gone through traumatic experiences as most of the time they did not ask to be in that situation. What we can do though is give them a fair shot at life with mandatory free sessions with a mental health professional. The remaining two categories were those who concluded they either did not perceive a mental disorder or they did not perceive a need for care regarding their mental disorder; both had 25% of the patients in each category. Now while these patients said one thing in that moment, what’s to say they won’t experience another life event that’ll bring them back to those suppressed memories and pain. It is our obligation to give them as well those mandatory sessions with a mental health professional to ensure that outcome does not happen.
In a separate article, various authors wrote The Role of a Prescription in Anxiety Medication Use, Abuse, and Dependence. This article emphasizes the role that prescribed medication has on those who suffer from anxiety and have rode on the path of numbing the pain instead of embracing it and healing after. While medication is another form of treatment for anxiety and other mental health disorders, it is also a gateway into other forms of treatment, which can be described as the bad side of prescription drugs. By that we are discussing non-prescript drugs that have been stolen, illicit illegal drugs, alcohol, etc. The article explains that these prescription drugs that are meant to help individuals with anxiety are being used in non-medical ways, by that we mean that these drugs are being sold to people who do not need them but are using them to either get high or buying to distribute to other people. Young adults who have past trauma are absolutely the target audience for these suppliers, they want to take advantage of the fact that they want to not feel their pain. Should therapy be implemented as a mandatory form of treatment, the spread of these drugs could be limited vastly and not as many people would be effected. Face-to-face surveys of about 35,000 people resulted that many individuals who use these medications either for good or bad intentions are becoming dependent on these drugs. They simply cannot function in daily life without them. One would agree that the last thing any of us want is to be dependent on a little pill to get us through the day. Therapy can eliminate this way of coping as individuals will learn how to express their feelings and know that there are safe, non-prescription methods available. Most people who take these drugs want to numb their pain so they don’t have to live with and face their emotions from traumatic experiences, this route however usually leads to drug dependency or even worse, drug addiction.
All that has been described has been that therapy should be the form of treatment for those who suffer from a mental illness. Now let’s discuss why it’s the best form of treatment. From author of Psychoanalysis and History, Hans-Ulrich Wehler goes on to talk about how therapy is an effective form of treatment. To begin, Wehler describes therapy as an effective way to uncover the unconscious motives of why we act the way we act. This can be done be analyzing what a patient has to say during their sessions with a therapist. A therapist can analyze a person’s feelings about a past traumatic experience, how their feelings have effected every part of their life since the experience and even how their dreams could be influenced from past traumatic experiences. Wehler claims “therapy can help victims understand the problems in their lives that have occurred due to trauma and what can be done to help find methods that can best reduce their inner demons and make the ‘reality distorting’ effects bearable to live with.” Therapists are described as instruments of understanding. Patients are encouraged to offer their interpretations of how problems due to trauma have effected their lives. Many methods are offered during the therapy treatment process. Some of the methods that Wehler writes about include: learning how to cope, learning ways to relax and learning ways that help improve problem solving skills. Learning how to cope is essential as it guarantees victims know what to do in a situation that triggers their memories of trauma. Learning ways to relax are helpful as it teaches victims there are plenty are healthy methods available that do not include indulging in substances that can prove to be harmful to both their physical and mental health. Learning how to problem solve is essential as it helps victims find ways that are most beneficial for them to solve a problem that may arise in their daily life that may seem too overwhelming for them. Young adults, especially those with trauma, should definitely learn all these methods to increase the chance of them becoming outstanding members of society in the future.
In a fairly recent article, Anna Lente titles her work 12 Benefits of Having a Mental Illness. In this article, Lente gives a different approach of how to look at having a mental illness. While therapy is an effective way of treating mental disorders, nothing is 100% in curing mental illnesses. While there are many negative effects that come with having a mental illness, staying positive and finding the good from having a mental illness graciously helps. Lente lists twelve benefits, which she calls blessings, she’s realized as being a person who lives with having a mental illness:
- The deep friendship/brotherhood with diverse and beautiful warriors of mental illness
- Being able to encourage others
- Appreciating small acts of kindness
- Appreciating the good days
- Knowing who your real friends are
- Being ready to handle whatever life throws at them
- Inspiring creativity
- Teaches those to think creatively to solve problems
- Makes life more interesting
- That sense of brokenness allows others to be real/open with you
- The emotional strength and courage gained by managing a mental illness
- Being better equipped to be a counselor
This list proves that even though one is at constant battle within themselves, people who have mental illnesses matter and actually do think of those around them. Being able to find a way to help others while sometimes not being able to help yourself is extremely selfless and inspiring. These blessings would truly help young adults who suffer on a day-to-day basis with their trauma baggage. I only hope to one day be able to extend this form of gratitude upon others when needed and to continue for as long as humanly possible.
Fitzpatrick, Darcy & Vierhile come together to write the article titled Delivering Cognitive Behavior Therapy to Young Adults With Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety Using a Fully Automated Conversational Agent (Woebot): A Randomized Controlled Trial. In their article, the authors conduct a study that analyzes the effectiveness of those who have self diagnosed themselves as having symptoms of anxiety and depression with going through a self-help program. In this program, participants were given methods they could practice at home to help with the severity of their symptoms. The data that was first collected appeared to show that mental health problems are both increasing in prevalence and severity. This study while does conclude that self-help programs are effective in treating symptoms of anxiety, is somewhat inconclusive as the symptoms were diagnosed by the participants themselves. No professional was brought in to discuss with the participants about their symptoms, so the participants could easily have exaggerated and/or faked their symptoms to sabotage the study. With that in mind, it is not guaranteed that this method will help all those who suffer from past trauma. Therapy on the other hand does have a substantial more probability of learning how to handle and deal with mental illnesses.
Therapy in general has been proven to be an effective way of treatment for mental health problems. It’s far more effective than medication and self-help programs. Therapy teaches those with these issues to learn how to cope, relax and using their problem solving skills to guide them through daily life. As a society, we must make it an obligation to do right by these people and offer these mandatory services to them at little to no cost. By making these services available we can ensure, young adults especially, that they have a fighting chance and a higher probability of the likelihood of them becoming outstanding members of society.
Beljouw, I. V., & Verhaak, P. (2010, January 01). Characteristics and one-year outcome of untreated anxiety and depression. Retrieved November 17, 2020, from https://www-clinicalkey-com.ezproxy.rowan.edu/#!/content/playContent/1-s2.0-S0924933810702212?returnurl=null&referrer=null
Bjornsson, A. S., Sibrava, N. J., Beard, C., Moitra, E., & Weisberg, R. B. (2014, December). Two-year course of generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder with agoraphobia in a sample of Latino adults. Retrieved November 17, 2020, from https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.rowan.edu/docview/1515979365?accountid=13605&rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo
Facts & Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2020, from https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
Fenton, M. C., Keyes, K. M., Martins, S. S., & Hasin, D. S. (2010, October 01). The Role of a Prescription in Anxiety Medication Use, Abuse, and Dependence. Retrieved November 17, 2020, from https://ajp-psychiatryonline-org.ezproxy.rowan.edu/doi/full/10.1176/appi.ajp.2010.09081132
Fitzpatrick, K., Darcy, A., & Vierhile, M. (2017, June 06). Delivering Cognitive Behavior Therapy to Young Adults With Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety Using a Fully Automated Conversational Agent (Woebot): A Randomized Controlled Trial. Retrieved November 17, 2020, from https://mental.jmir.org/2017/2/e19/
Lente, A. (n.d.). 12 Benefits of Having a Mental Illness. Retrieved October 10, 2020, from https://themighty.com/2017/05/benefits-of-having-a-mental-illness/
McNulty, J. P. (n.d.). Commentary: Mental Illness, Society, Stigma, and Research. Retrieved October 10, 2020, from https://bit.ly/2Uybv4w
Oort, F., Greaves‐Lord, K., Verhulst, F., Ormel, J., & Huizink, A. (2009, April 14). The developmental course of anxiety symptoms during adolescence: The TRAILS study. Retrieved November 17, 2020, from https://acamh.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2009.02092.x
Schomerus, G., Stolzenburg, S., Freitag, S., Speerforck, S., Janowitz, D., Evans-Lacko, S., . . . Schmidt, S. (2019, June). Stigma as a barrier to recognizing personal mental illness and seeking help: A prospective study among untreated persons with mental illness. Retrieved November 17, 2020, from https://web-a-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.rowan.edu/ehost/detail/detail?vid=0&sid=e04d8bd0-37f6-44a5-8ba6-b7e35b412e44%40sessionmgr4006&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#AN=136523962&db=a9h
Wehler, H. (n.d.). Psychoanalysis and History. Retrieved November 17, 2020, from https://bit.ly/2UcohFJ