Self help is both a viable option in many cases of mental health difficulties and disorders and should be fully utilized regardless of one's other treatment choices. Whether someone utilizes
professional help or not, self help should and must be a part of the healing process for long-term gains in mental healing.
Regular, balanced exercise is one form of self-help that can help with depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, OCD, and other mental health disorders or tendencies. It is part of lifestyle prevention efforts and contributes to overall better health.
Exercise can be pursued in a variety formats.
For some who may not embrace Eastern style meditation, focused, intense exercise is one method that can contribute to a state of "mindfulness" while exercising.
If we go to a doctor, lay ourselves on the table and expect the doctor to "fix" us with pills or some other way, we are delegating responsibility for our own lives to someone else. One of the first steps toward recovery is to accept personal responsibility over our own health and mental health; a professional can only facilitate help in that process, but ultimately, we need to take responsibility for our own mental health. See NAMI mental health recovery
Decisions we make in mental health treatment, and self-help, are ultimately our decisions, rather than our doctor's. Self help is one of the first steps in any treatment plan, from the moment one recognizes mental health difficulties, until one's symptoms have gone into remission, and in preventive measures. Work hard for better mental health, educate yourself, fight, struggle to overcome negative symptoms, mental health disorder or difficulties. It takes much effort, like the butterfly coming out of the cocoon. We can emerge a different and stronger person.
Don't Resign Yourself to a Label and Medication Based on the Medical Model
We can't resign ourselves to a label
and feel like there is nothing we can do about it with the exception of taking pills. There is no magic pill to cure mental illness, is a fundamental truth that has been highlighted over and over, proven by mental health professionals who take a balanced and holistic approach towards mental health treatment and recovery.
can be beneficial in that it raises a red flag and opens up the possibility of getting support, however, it can also be self-defeating, in that we may resign ourselves to the label, and then are more inclined to not to take necessary actions, including lifestyle changes and self-help to improve our mental health. Good mental health requires lifestyle changes, effort, and determination. Even with that, it can take some time to fully recover; however, a positive, forward looking approach to mental health recovery is an excellent foundation for long-term recovery.
Assistance in the form of psychiatric drugs
should not be considered a first step, but secondary or tertiary consideration. Choose first the least invasive approach toward recovery. For most, psychiatric drugs should be only considered as a temporary stop-gap, something that is of last resort, rather than a first line defense. Develop skills and new lifestyles to overcome symptoms and develop coping tools.
Some situations may be more difficult than others and patience is needed, but it is possible to overcome many core symptoms of mental health disorders, many times with simple life-style adjustments. A psychologist or therapist should also endeavor to help us identify weaknesses in our lifestyle and help us to make appropriate changes. A cognitive behavioral therapist may assign homework exercises to facilitate overcoming specific symptoms especially related to thought patterns that may be contributing to depression or hindering our progress. Cognitive behavioral therapy is also being used effectively as a self-help tool.
Lifestyle Changes - Effective Self Help for Mental Health Disorders
In the case of a serious mental health disorder, bipolar disorder, lifestyle changes that include improvements in diet
, exercise, quitting destructive habits such as smoking, and overuse of alcohol can be effective in overcoming up to 30% of the symptoms associated with bipolar disorder
, states one expert specialist on the subject.
That being the case, if we explore further aspects of our lifestyle that we may improve, and implement other positive lifestyle changes, identifying triggers to core symptoms such as depression, mania, of panic attacks, we may be able to experience an even higher percentage of reduction in core symptoms. By accomplishing that, we may have effectively taken ourselves out of the clinical range of a diagnosable mental health disorder.
Cutting back on passive time spent watching mindless television, including spending less time watching what is usually depressing news, can help symptoms of depression or mania. One middle-aged man who found himself with symptoms associated with major depression, experienced relief from nearly all of his symptoms by exercising regularly, giving attention to diet and nutrition, and cutting out watching the news daily, the negativity of which was contributing to his depression.
Additionally, keeping movie
time, a passive and often mindless activity, to a minimum, and making adjustments with anything that might overwhelm the mind, such as toning down or mellowing out in our tastes in music
and moderating the amount of time we spend listening to music, can also be productive.
can help a person to regain and maintain mental balance without having to resort to medications, or can help an individual taking psychiatric drugs to be able to cut down on the dosage, contributing to fewer side-effects.
It takes courage to face mental health difficulties, make difficult lifestyle changes, and to swim against the current. Recognizing our personal responsibility in our decisions, and not relegating our decisions in mental health to others, is an important step forward.
Therapy for Mental Health Difficulties
In Great Britain, Health magazine reported that doctors are known to prescribe self-help books
to patients as a first line defense strategy. Medication
is given secondary consideration. At times professional therapy is necessary and protective. Many options for professional therapy
can be effective in treating mental health disorders.
Educate Yourself with Self Help Books and Research
Educate yourself on mental health. Read books which can help you to understand what you are going through and what you can do. You don't have to follow only one book or subscribe to one specific method, but be selective and eclectic, implement ideas from a wide variety of sources--this can help you to put pieces of the puzzle in your personal mental health recovery together and implement and maintain a realistic plan.
Avoid fringe, fad, unproven, or unrealistic methods. Make changes modestly and gradually, rather than trying to take on too much at one time.
Coaching for Mental Health
for those with ADHD
, or bipolar disorder is another useful adjunctive approach to mental health recovery. A coach is there to give support, provide practical suggestions and encouragement, and to provide reminders to help keep clients on track. Coaches may communicate with clients by phone, virtually through Skype or some other video application, by email, or in person.
is less costly than a therapist, and is often used in addition to the role of a therapist; at times coaching has been utilized in lieu of a therapist. The quality of the coach, as well as the willingness of the client to make needed changes and stick to a self-help plan also determines the success rate in mental health recovery.
Conclusion for Self-Help Towards Good Mental Health
Self-help along with self-determination (taking personal responsibility), are an important part of recovery from mental health difficulties and disorders. By making positive lifestyle adjustments, implementing a workable short-term and long-term plan, you can recover from even serious mental health disorders. By all means, make whatever efforts and adjustments needed, get whatever support that is needed, and be patient with your recovery. You can succeed if you stick with it.
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