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3 Big Reasons Mental Health Treatment May Not Be Working

So you have made the decision to seek mental health treatment for a psychiatric disorder.  You have overcome all of the barriers – the cost, the stigma, your own fear – to seek treatment.  One of the most frustrating things that you can be feeling after you have made it through all of these obstacles is the feeling that your mental health treatment is not working.  If this frustration hits, you start to wonder if you have been wasting your time and your money pouring out your soul for no reason. You can start to wonder if you are ever going to feel better.  You are starting to wonder what is going to happen if you are never able to have the life you want.  And then you work yourself into a panic complete with fear and hopelessness – all feelings that are really just going to make matters worse.

Treating mental health conditions is not nearly as simple as going to a doctor for a broken leg where you know what to expect and you know what it going to happen.  There is little that is simple about dealing with the human mind.  But that does not mean that your concerns are not valid ones.  Your treatment may not be helping at the moment.  Here are some reasons why that might be true.

1. It Has Not Been Long Enough Yet

Therapy takes time. Sometimes therapy takes a lot of time – a lot more time than you may be expecting.  It depends on you and what you are being treated for.  Short term therapy is very effective for an adjustment disorder or a single episode of depression.  More complex and perplexing mental health conditions like obsessive compulsive disorder posttraumatic stress disorder generally require a more long term therapy commitment.  The presenting disorder may only scratch the surface of what is really going on.  Oftentimes, there are underlying difficulties that are manifesting as presenting disorders. Until these underlying difficulties are sorted out, the real problem cannot be dealt with.  And these things take time.

2. You are Dodging the Real Issues

Many people start going to therapy and talk around the real issues. Most experienced therapists know that fairly often the issue that initially brought a patient to him or her is not necessarily the real problem.  There are many different reasons why patients will avoid talking about their real problems.  They could feel shame or embarrassment about their difficulties and not want to feel judged by a therapist.  They may not want open up wounds that they think are already sealed.  They go to therapy to talk about surface issues rather than getting into the real problems.  It can take a long time for a therapist to pull the true issues out of a client.

3. You Have Been Misdiagnosed

Mental health conditions do not generally come with lab tests and MRI evidence of specific conditions just yet. That could be something for the future, but for now, diagnosing mental issues is a matter of experience and educated guessing.  Mental health disorders are typically based on self-reporting and observations.  These are not exact sciences.  Treatment plans are typically based on the diagnosis.  The treatment for different conditions could be very different approaches.  If that diagnosis is incorrect, the treatment plan may not be as effective as it could be.

There are a great many more things that can interfere with the effectiveness of your treatment.  The most important thing to remember is to be honest with your therapist.  Tell him or her if you are feeling like you are not progressing as you should.  Tell him or her if you are feeling frustrated.  He or she may be able to help you put your treatment and recovery in perspective.  Do not be afraid to broach the subject because your therapist will be happy to know that you feel comfortable being open about your feelings.  Getting your feelings out in the open can both strengthen your relationship with your therapist and enable your therapist to address some of the difficulties that you are experiencing.

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