Adversity Doesn't Build Character, It Exposes it....
Awareness is a key component to managing psychological distress. My philosophy regarding therapy is to work together to identify the source of psychological distress, and then once identified, to use that awareness to create a plan to manage, if not alleviate, the distress.
In law enforcement, there is a “use of force” continuum, which is a standard that provides officers and civilians with guidelines as to how much force may be used against a resisting subject in a given situation. The more resistant the situation/problem, the more force the officers are allowed to use. But the level of force must always remain proportionate to the threat or problem, and officers must employ the least amount of force possible to resolve a given situation or problem.
Well, the same philosophy should be applied to the mental health field, except that instead of a use of force continuum, it is a “use of invasiveness” continuum. Too often the first line of defense, or the tip of the spear, used is an immediate prescription of anti-depressants. Unfortunately, medication does not always provide relief, and often causes negative side effects. In my opinion, the treatment should start with the least invasive action and work forward on the continuum as needed.
Our lifestyle contributes to our mental well-being. Sleep, diet, and exercise are crucial components to functioning at optimum levels. Unfortunately, psychological distress is often both a cause and a symptom of less than ideal sleep, diet (comfort eating/escapism), and exercise habits, which when not properly managed, have a negative effect on our psychological well being. Essentially, a self-reinforcing echo chamber is created where insufficient sleep, diet, and exercise contribute to psychological imbalance…..that negatively affects our sleep, diet, and exercise…..that exacerbates our psychological imbalance….. that negatively affects our sleep, diet, and exercise……..and repeat.
In some cases, medication is unavoidable. But in my view, medication is the fifth line of defense in the “use of force” continuum behind sleep, diet, exercise, and talk therapy. In most cases, I believe we can see very positive results from these first four non-invasive steps, without ever having to ingest medication.
For more information/research on the on the over-use of pharmacology/medication in the mental health field see the “exercise” tab above or click here.