Gotta love advice from psychologists who have only studied psychology for 4 years in college and have never experienced any mental health issue they advise on. If you suffer from social anxiety, you’ve probably heard some psychologists advising you to face you fear meaning you should go to public places more and give speeches in front of an audience. Such psychologists have no clue why people with social anxiety can’t do that. The same thing with psychologists who have never experienced depression. I assume they think that all people feel sad sometimes, occasionally, which is why their advice is to embrace your feelings and let yourself soak in sadness, accept your feelings, listen to sad songs because trying to become more positive when you feel sad is toxic positivity. Such psychologists have no idea that some people feel sad all the time.
Advice given by some psychologists not only doesn’t help me overcome my mental health issues, it drives me mad! In this blogpost I’m going to open up about mental health issues I’ve been struggling with throughout my life and why you shouldn’t always take psychologists’ advice on mental health if you want to overcome your mental issues.
I’ve been struggling with some mental health issues for most of my life. I’ve had some anger issues since 7. When I was about 13, I developed social anxiety which I managed to overcome 12 years later with help of Youtube lectures of a famous psychiatrist, doctor Andrey Kurpatov. I share the knowledge that helped me overcome social anxiety after 12 years of struggle here. Several years ago I had a posttraumatic stress disorder and I’ve had many depressive episodes throughout my life because I’m a melancholic person. I’ve also been suffering from a generalized anxiety disorder for as many years as I remember myself and I’m currently working on trying to get rid of it completely and forever. I write more about it in Fear and Anxiety Make You Live in a Shell? Learn How to Stop It.
Why you shouldn’t always take psychologists’ advice on mental health
Some psychologists devalue what people who suffered from a mental health issue have gone through because our path to finally overcoming the mental issue is not in line with what they have read in textbooks. Beware of psychologists who put you down or make you think that your healthy ways of coping with your mental issue that actually help you are wrong.
Remember about the difference between psychologists and psychiatrists
Psychologists are not psychiatrists. There’s a major difference between the two. Psychiatrists are doctors who understand the nature of processes in our brain. They can diagnose mental disorders and prescribe medication. It takes about 12 years to become a psychiatrist. On the other hand, one can become a psychologist after 4 years of studying. Also, psychologists don’t complete medical school and can’t prescribe medication. While I’m sure that there’re professional psychologists, understanding and compassionate, with many years of training and practice, who continue studying after those 4 years, there’re also psychologists who believe they know it all. A good psychologist will listen to you carefully and guide you, provide you with specific techniques to manage your problems or to better understand yourself that will work for your personality. A bad psychologist will devalue your effort, put you down, and force techniques they have read about in textbooks upon you, irrespective of your personality.
Psychology is not math
I used to suffer from social anxiety and panic attacks triggered by social situations. Common advice on how to get rid of social anxiety I used to come across was to face my fears. I couldn’t understand it then and I still can’t understand it now how pushing myself to face my fears and taking part in social situations (like giving a public speech) was going to help me overcome social anxiety. Of course I had to give public speeches in college and as a result I had severe panic attacks. I also had panic attacks in the street, in malls, in transport, at job interviews, etc. and the number of times I went by bus or went shopping, “surprisingly”, did not help me overcome social anxiety in any way. What I truly needed was understanding why my brain reacted that way and also a better understanding of other people, which I lacked.
Moreover, I am a highly introverted person which means that I don’t need social interactions. I don’t enjoy small tacks, I don’t like spending much time with friends because it feels like wasting time, and I don’t understand what drives people to maintain friendships. This is not an issue for me, however, I often come across articles claiming that all people need social interactions for good health. It’s been a mystery for me how forcing myself to spend time with people, which drains my energy and makes me unhappy, can contribute to my good health.
Another case, some psychologists advise people to accept their sadness or other negative feelings instead of trying to cheer themselves up because otherwise they are guilty of toxic positivity. I had a posttraumatic stress disorder for at least a year and I’ve had many depressive episodes throughout my life. What those psychologists don’t understand is that for some people, feeling sad is the way their brain works most of the time. Being sad is my mood “by default”. If I took their advice and let myself be sad and didn’t turn to “toxic positivity”, I’d always be sad. I’ve learned to cope with my depressive episodes by practicing gratitude, listening to cheerful music, reading positive books, and not letting myself give in to the feelings of sadness, despair, guilt, hopelessness, etc.
For me, it’s not easy to be grateful because my mindset differs from mindsets of everyone I know a lot and if I didn’t tell myself “it could be worse” or if I let myself soak in sadness, listen to sad songs, read sad books and surround myself with everything about sadness and depression, as some psychologists suggest (because according to them, doing otherwise I’m guilty of toxic positivity), I would always be discontent with my life, depressed, and probably suicidal. I’m doing my best every single day to cheer myself up. For some people, positivity is their natural state, so maybe they need those sad periods or maybe they enjoy listening to sad songs. For me, feeling sad is something I put a lot of effort to overcome. I don’t want anyone to devalue my effort, especially people who don’t understand what it is like to live with melancholic depression.
Remember that your case has not been described in any textbook
Let alone the fact that there’re different temperaments, all people come from different backgrounds, so it’s absolutely impossible to apply the same techniques to everyone and expect them to work well for everyone.
Remember that not every psychologist is a professional
Is every psychologist a professional? No. I guess you’ve heard about academic writing services. As for me, devaluing someone else’s efforts to keep their depression at bay is a sign of a bad psychologist who doesn’t understand problems people with mental issues face daily.
You don’t necessarily need to see a psychologist to overcome your mental issue
Of course most psychologists would advocate for making an appointment with them or buying their services and products because it’s their way of making a living. They may tell you that there’s no way you can overcome your mental issue on your own or that ways that help you cope with it are wrong.
Sometimes all you need to overcome mental issues is knowledge and determination. If you have the means (call it understanding, knowledge, techniques, methods, tools – whatever, these are just words), you don’t need a psychologist. Seeing a psychologist is not a must if you feel that you can cope with your mental issue on your own. I couldn’t agree more with the author of this article, that psychology is not science. Psychology was invented just like philosophy. Psychological terms invented by someone don’t help overcome mental issues. Cases described in textbooks don’t help overcome mental issues. And no psychologist is allowed to claim that the approach which helps me keep my depression at bay is wrong just because it’s beyond their scope of knowledge.
Now you know why you shouldn’t always take psychologists’ advice on mental health. Don’t let them tell you’re doing it wrong if it helps you and if your way of coping with the problem is healthy. I’ve been through it, not just read about it in a textbook.