Depression and anxiety are treatable. How to find what works for you.
My favorite moments as a psychiatrist happen when someone I’ve just met trusts me enough to invite me alongside them. We walk through the most human parts of their lives—the gritty, messy, vulnerable, raw, triumphant, and terrifying chapters that no one else gets to read. Each story amazes me, and teaches me, too. Each journey leaves me heartbroken, happy, and humbled by the honesty and healing that happen.
When someone comes to see me, we usually talk long—and thoroughly—over the course of the next few weeks or months. We tune up their sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
.We strategize about workloads and family stress. We practice cognitive techniques and behavioral ones, too. We figure out how to get exercise. After careful consideration, we may even start medications.
No two mental health challenges look exactly the same. Recovery looks a little different for everyone, and sometimes more bumps than miracles happen along the way. But I see people heal, and I believe with every fiber of my being, the same thing can happen for you.
Professional help: It’s not as scary as it sounds
And good for you for being brave enough to think about it.
Hey you, the one reading this article. Good for you! You saw this booklet, you picked it up, and you started reading it.
Well done! You took the time to stare your depression or anxiety in the eye, and tell it it’s not going to win.
That’s amazing! You know depression and anxiety are treatable, and you’re ready to think about starting treatment. And that alone is worth celebrating!
It’s OK if you have questions. There are lots of treat- ments out there, and it might take some time to find the one that works for you.
Don’t give up. Even exploring treatments to find the right one is closer to managing your symptoms than you were before.You’re on the right track. Good for you!
Your treatment might include talk therapy – advice from a trained professional to help you see things in a new light.
A therapist may be able to show you strategies that you hadn’t heard of before. And if you learn something useful, you’ll be in good company.
Some of God’s biggest champions took advice from others when they struggled. Moses is a great example.
He was so weighed down by the petty disagreements he had to solve every day that he’d nearly given up on things ever getting better.
But fortunately for Moses, his father-in-law Jethro had some experience mediating quarrels – maybe because his seven children weren’t afraid to speak their minds.
Jethro told Moses to put other people in charge of the smaller stuff so that Moses had time to mediate the more significant problems.
Jethro’s advice helped the leader of the Exodus make it through his days in one piece. Maybe little talk therapy can do the same thing for you.
If you don’t have a therapist yet, there are tips for finding one in this lesson. Remember, every mental health professional is unique. There are many treatment styles and approaches to therapy. If you visit a therapist and don’t feel that he or she is addressing your concerns in a meaningful way, it’s OK to try a different professional.
Keep looking until you find someone who can help you. But what about the M-word – medication? Do you need it? Will it help? Every person’s situation is different, and only your doctor or mental health professional can answer that question.
Still, if your provider or psychiatrist suggests medication as part of your treatment, it might be worth considering.
Jesus treated the whole person – he healed broken bodies, restored possessed minds, and forgave sins. Often, the Greek verb Sozo – to save, heal, restore, or make whole – gets used for all three kinds of healing in the Bible.
When Elijah broke down after his encounter on Mt. Carmel, God fed him first and gave him rest before he sat him down for a talk. Elijah’s body need- ed to heal before his mind was ready to learn.
You are a whole person too, and God wants you to restore you. If your brain is less than healthy, taking medication might help you to understand things you never would have seen before.
It could open your eyes to a little more of the beautiful world God created for you. And the good news is that, with your doctor’s supervision, of course, you’ll most likely be able to taper off your medication in a year or less and keep feeling better.
No matter what treatment you and your doctor decide on, congratu- lations for taking a step. Well done for looking out through the fog of depression and anxiety, and seeing the light on the other side. It’s real, and you can get there.
FINDING SAFE PEOPLE
You can take back control of your life, but you don’t have to do it alone. Friends, family, and trained professionals can help you as you heal.
You don’t have to do this alone. Healing isn’t something you’re sup- posed to figure out on your own. Finding the right support system is a tremendous part of the journey to get your life back. God is someone you can always count on, and it’s important to have a human support system, too.
Even when you’re feeling comfortable with your next steps to recovery, a little accountability or encouragement can do wonders. And that’s especially true if you can find some- one safe to talk with. Reaching out can take a lot of strength. Choose a friend who will make it easier for you.
Friends and Family Friends and family can be huge parts of your healing process, and the tips in this article apply to them as much as to professional help. A family member or someone in your friend group who passes the safe person test is a great choice to tell about the weight you’ve been carrying.
But don’t stop at family and friends. You want to learn about your illness, what it does, and how to take control of your life. You need to talk to someone with experience treating depression and anxiety.
Your doctor or health care provider can provide a lot of support, as can your church pastor, or a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. But keep in mind that professionals aren’t all the same, and not every counselor will be the right fit for you. Your situation and symptoms are unique to you. Find a place and a person that makes you feel comfortable, safe, and understood.
A SAFE PERSON…
…listens to understand Find someone who truly wants to hear what you are saying, and who’ll ask questions as needed to make sure they understand. If someone only listens because they’re waiting for the next chance to continue with their speech, they aren’t really listening at all.
…sees a better version of you
Depression and anxiety can feed the negative voices in your head and make you feel worse and worse about yourself. A safe person will remind you of the good they see in you, and inspire you to grow into the person God created you to be.
…asks questions before sharing information Look for a person who listens carefully, waits for you to finish, and then asks follow-up questions to see if they understood you. A good listener will hear you out, and then check to see if they followed, before they even consider giving advice.
…doesn’t downplay your experience
If someone tells you that they know how you feel, or that you should feel differently, they may not be the safe person you need as you heal. Watch out especially for anyone who says it’s wrong to feel the way that you do.
…and validates you as you are
A safe person will tell you that your feelings are valid and that you get to choose what to do with those feelings. They may encourage you to build healthier and more pos- itive thought processes, but they aren’t going to get angry with you if you’re still feeling down as you tackle the next step.
Depression will hang around for a while as you start your healing process, and that’s OK. Anxiety will probably still pop up at times, but you’ll learn to manage it. A safe person will know that.
Info to help you begin the treatment process.
If you, or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 000, visit your nearest hospital emergency department, or use any of these crisis helplines:
- Lifeline: 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au(link is external)
- SANE Australia Helpline: 1800 18 SANE (7236) or sane.org(link is external)
- Beyond Blue: 1300 22 46 36 or beyondblue.org.au/forums(link is external)
- Black Dog Institute: blackdoginstitute.com.au(link is external)
- Headspace: 1800 650 850 or headspace.org.au(link is external)
- ReachOut: reachout.com(link is external)
- Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
- 13YARN: 13 92 76
- Mental Health Australia (link is external)