Seeking psychiatric/psychological help

5 06 2009

When should a person seek psychological/psychiatric help?  Can people leading perfectly normal lives resort to professional counseling or anti-depressant drugs or should they ought to wait until they become real crazy – unable to lead a normal life?

What’s the breaking point? Is it same for all the people?
Recently one of my friends who is a pharmacist in a leading drugstore expressed her disapproval of so many people resorting to drugs to deal with their stress or emotional imbalance. In her work, she comes across a whole bunch of people who do so. Her remarks made me start thinking about this stuff.
Are all those people using psychiatric or neurotic drugs as an easy way to solve problems or at the least to evade them? Are all those people just didn’t try enough to deal with their stress, anxiety or depression in a mature and rational way?
I would say that we can’t make a generalized judgment in this matter. No two people are alike and it’s true even in their abilities to work around their emotional problems.  Just like every person is unique (or almost unique) in their physical appearances, each has a unique personality and perception of the world. In other words, no two people will see the world exactly the same way. As a result, a person’s unique personality develops on the basis of his or her unique experiences. And hence the variance in their emotional and psychological stability.
In this context, I would like to introduce the concept of “Emotional Intelligence Quotient”. The Wikipedia definition for it goes like this:
Emotional Intelligence (EI), often measured as an Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ), is a term that describes the ability, capacity, skill or (in the case of the trait EI model) a self-perceived ability, to identify, assess, and manage the emotions of one’s self, of others, and of groups.
So, like IQ (Intelligence Quotient) different people have different levels of EQ.
Take a seemingly simple issue to most of us, for ex: Exam fear. Most of us do have it and worry about exams a lot but we do manage to overcome those worries in the end on our own. But there certainly are a few who really dread them and experience nervous breakdowns as a result of it. They really need professional help . In such cases it’s wrong to assume that they are simply not trying enough to work on their problem and making mountains out of molehills. Just because the issue is under control for us, doesn’t mean that it will be for everyone else.
We can’t really say whether or not a person is in real problem, which he or she is unable to work around on their own, unless we know that person intimately including his or her past and also the society in which he or she lives in.
At this point, let me digress a little and talk about the usage of anti-depressants and/or psychiatric drugs.
It’s an established fact that the use of anti-depressant and psychiatric drugs is increasing spectacularly for the past 50 years in America. Their growing popularity was summarized in this article. It’s quite improbable that majority people using them might not be in genuine need. I don’t believe one can get the doctor prescribe those drugs unless one really needs them. The dramatic increase can be attributed to the changing lifestyle and other such stress factors, not just that users just took fancy to them.
Here we shouldn’t confuse this with the also increasing use of mood-altering happy pills, also called psychotropic drugs, which is not a very desirable trend. While this suggests an inherent social problem – ever increasing competition, increasing struggle for survival as well as success, the high and unrealistic expectations of the lifestyle – the people using them might not really need them.
I believe that no capable person will resort to drugs just because it’s easier to deal with problems that way. The very act of resorting to such drugs implies an inherent problem – either in the person or in the society in which he or she lives.
We don’t see a similar trend back in India.  I think the most important reason for this is the robust marriage and family system practiced there. I don’t mean to say that it’s a foolproof system or that people there don’t have their own share of problems. I simply mean that there the people are less at risk to such problems compared to the West.
Another important reason for the relatively less use of psychiatric drugs or professional counseling in India is lack of awareness and the common misconception that admitting or seeking psychiatric/psychological help is a sign of failure and is something for which one should feel ashamed. Most people still think that one consults a psychiatrist or psychologist only if one is insane. In other words, they label the person as not normal, unfit to live in the society and keep their distance from him or her.
Now coming back to the original point , when can a person seek professional help in such matters? How can one decide whether one has tried enough and are in genuine need of help? Who are the best judges – the individual or his family or his friends?
I think it depends on the seriousness of the problem.  If it is on the milder side, the person might recognize the problem with him or her – low self-esteem or depression or coping with personal loss, stress or failure – but unable work through them or feel better by themselves and decide to seek professional help.
Well, it can be the other way too, in the extreme cases when the person is in serious trouble and he or she is not aware of it.
However, if a person consciously feels that he or she needs help, he or she will probably need it actually. No one else has the right to deny, disapprove or doubt a person’s decision to seek psychiatric/psychological help. However, it’s possible that while a person feels that he needs psychiatric help, actually he or she might do just fine with good counseling or vice versa. The person might not be right about choice between psychiatry and psychology, a decision best left to a professional.

When should a person seek psychological/psychiatric help?  Can people leading perfectly normal lives resort to professional counseling or anti-depressant drugs or should they ought to wait until they become real crazy – unable to lead a normal life?

What’s the breaking point? Is it same for all the people?

Recently one of my friends who is a pharmacist in a leading drugstore expressed her disapproval of so many people resorting to drugs to deal with their stress or emotional imbalance. In her work, she comes across a whole bunch of people who do so. Her remarks made me start thinking about this stuff.

Are all those people using psychiatric or neurotic drugs as an easy way to solve problems or at the least to evade them? Are all those people just didn’t try enough to deal with their stress, anxiety or depression in a mature and rational way?

I would say that we can’t make a generalized judgment in this matter. No two people are alike and it’s true even in their abilities to work around their emotional problems.  Just like every person is unique (or almost unique) in their physical appearances, each has a unique personality and perception of the world. In other words, no two people will see the world exactly the same way. As a result, a person’s unique personality develops on the basis of his or her unique experiences. And hence the variance in their emotional and psychological stability.

In this context, I would like to introduce the concept of “Emotional Intelligence Quotient”. The Wikipedia definition for it goes like this:

Emotional Intelligence (EI), often measured as an Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ), is a term that describes the ability, capacity, skill or (in the case of the trait EI model) a self-perceived ability, to identify, assess, and manage the emotions of one’s self, of others, and of groups.

So, like IQ (Intelligence Quotient) different people have different levels of EQ.

Take a seemingly simple issue to most of us, for ex: Exam fear. Most of us do have it and worry about exams a lot but we do manage to overcome those worries in the end on our own. But there certainly are a few who really dread them and experience nervous breakdowns as a result of it. They really need professional help . In such cases it’s wrong to assume that they are simply not trying enough to work on their problem and making mountains out of molehills. Just because the issue is under control for us, doesn’t mean that it will be for everyone else. 

We can’t really say whether or not a person is in real problem, which he or she is unable to work around on their own, unless we know that person intimately including his or her past and also the society in which he or she lives in.

At this point, let me digress a little and talk about the usage of anti-depressants and/or psychiatric drugs.

It’s an established fact that the use of anti-depressant and psychiatric drugs is increasing spectacularly for the past 50 years in America. Their growing popularity was summarized in this article. It’s quite improbable that majority people using them might not be in genuine need. I don’t believe one can get the doctor prescribe those drugs unless one really needs them. The dramatic increase can be attributed to the changing lifestyle and other such stress factors, not just that users just took fancy to them.

Here we shouldn’t confuse this with the also increasing use of mood-altering happy pills, also called psychotropic drugs, which is not a very desirable trend. While this suggests an inherent social problem – ever increasing competition, increasing struggle for survival as well as success, the high and unrealistic expectations of the lifestyle – the people using them might not really need them.

I believe that no capable person will resort to drugs just because it’s easier to deal with problems that way. The very act of resorting to such drugs implies an inherent problem – either in the person or in the society in which he or she lives.

We don’t see a similar trend back in India.  I think the most important reason for this is the robust marriage and family system practiced there. I don’t mean to say that it’s a foolproof system or that people there don’t have their own share of problems. I simply mean that there the people are less at risk to such problems compared to the West.

Another important reason for the relatively less use of psychiatric drugs or professional counseling in India is lack of awareness and the common misconception that admitting or seeking psychiatric/psychological help is a sign of failure and is something for which one should feel ashamed. Most people still think that one consults a psychiatrist or psychologist only if one is insane. In other words, they label the person as not normal, unfit to live in the society and keep their distance from him or her.

Now coming back to the original point , when can a person seek professional help in such matters? How can one decide whether one has tried enough and are in genuine need of help? Who are the best judges – the individual or his family or his friends?

I think it depends on the seriousness of the problem.  If it is on the milder side, the person might recognize the problem with him or her – low self-esteem or depression or coping with personal loss, stress or failure – but unable work through them or feel better by themselves and decide to seek professional help.

Well, it can be the other way too, in the extreme cases when the person is in serious trouble and he or she is not aware of it. However, if a person consciously feels that he or she needs help, he or she will probably need it actually. No one else has the right to deny, disapprove or doubt a person’s decision to seek psychiatric/psychological help. However, it’s possible that while a person feels that he needs psychiatric help, actually he or she might do just fine with good counseling or vice versa. The person might not be right about choice between psychiatry and psychology, but it’s a decision best left to a professional.

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