Rising Depression Rates Limit Talk Therapists, Here Are Some Alternatives;


In recent years, the topic of mental health has become more and more acknowledged due to how important it is to a person, however, mental health issues are increasing due to a multitude of things and it is increasingly harder to find help due to a shortage of resources and the affordability of mental health professionals. Fortunately, there are alternative ways of managing your stress and depression.

Over the past few decades we have seen an increase in mental health issues, one of which in the past few years being the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) in the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic there was a 25% increase globally in both depression and anxiety. Some explanations for the rise of these mental health issues are isolation and loneliness from being in lockdown, financial stress, grief from losing a loved one, and the fear of infection.

Another thing that has contributed to the rise of mental health issues is the excessive use of social media. Social media allows for us to connect with others however it is not a perfect substitute for real life connections which can provide us with a multitude of different things, such as a sense of belonging, alleviate stress, and make you feel happier. Social media can be used to create a false image of a person, in both a physical and social manner, which could lead you to be insecure about your appearance or your social life. Excess social media usage can also make you feel isolated and lonely, as you are not having those face to face connections with people that boost your mood and self esteem. Social media is also very rewarding to our brains, releasing the chemical dopamine in our brains which is linked to pleasurable activities which reinforces our unhealthy time spent on social media.

Due to the spike of mental health issues created by the pandemic it is unfortunately becoming increasingly harder to find mental health professionals, but even before the pandemic there was a lack in mental health professionals, especially psychiatrists. Psychiatrists must go through residency training which has limited slots and can be very costly. 

Mental Health Professionals can be very expensive and have long wait lists with many people that could take months for you to finally see a professional. Location also contributes to the amount of help you will be able to find, as if you are seeking to see a professional in person, it will be harder to have access to that type of treatment in rural areas. Even professionals who use virtual appointments for treatment can still have long wait lists. Therapy can also be very costly, ranging from 65$ an hour to 250$ an hour, however it is very dependent on the therapists’ reputation, specialization and type of treatment. 

There are many different types of therapy, all which have their own approach to the way the brain works and how any issues should be treated. Psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapy aims to change problematic behavior, thoughts and feelings by understanding their unconscious meanings and motivations. This type of therapy has the therapist and patient work closely together and is the type of talk therapy we think of when we hear the word therapy. 

Cognitive therapy aims to change how people think, as it focuses on the idea that dysfunctional thoughts lead to dysfunctional emotions and behaviors. Humanistic therapy focuses on rational choices and respect for others. There are 3 smaller types of therapy under the umbrella of humanistic therapy that focuses on being present and responsible for yourself, free will, self determination and the search for meaning. Behavioral therapy focuses on identifying and changing unhealthy and self destructive behavior. It’s based on the idea that all behaviors are learned and that behavior can change. Holistic therapy blends all the approaches that the therapist sees fit to treat the patient. 

Behavioral therapy has some of the most effective non medical treatments, such as exposure therapy for anxiety, behavioral action therapy for depression and other great coping skills that can help manage emotions. There are many different types of behavioral therapy, the most common being cognitive behavioral therapy(CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy(DBT). CBT focuses on how your thoughts, feelings and behavior influence each other while DBT does incorporate that, it more so focuses on regulating emotions, being mindful, and learning to accept pain. 

Both CBT and DBT are specialized types of therapy, however you can do self-directed CBT or DBT which have both proven to be very effective and cost efficient. The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies has a list of books that have their stamp of approval. It is important to find a book that you feel works for you as well as being backed by research. Commitment is also very important on your journey of self help, so take some time out of your day to go through the book and do not skip through it.

Mental health is extremely important as it can affect the way your function, socialize, and even your physical health. If you are struggling it is very important that you reach out and tell someone and look into treatment, such as therapy or other alternatives such as work books.