“The self-help obsessed have a propensity towards isolation.“
“All By Myself, Don’t Want To Be…”
So, you felt confident that you could go it alone. Now you find yourself at the end of an insidious decline into the perpetual darkness of clinical depression. The warning signs were posted along the way. You thought you had the answers. Who knows you, better than you, right?
Instead of reaching out, you searched Facebook for meaningful memes and took advice from Youtube “experts” leading you through your next cleanse. Unfortunately, no matter how much wheat grass you juiced, the darkness remained. Before you knew it, you were trapped.
That’s okay….we all do this!…
Depression: The Trap of Self-Help Culture
Let’s start by acknowledging the power of self-help. It is true that nobody knows you as well as you know yourself. It is also true that there is an overwhelming amount of resources online to research and draw from. Unfortunately, thing go wrong when we believe down the path that we are the expert of all things, above and beyond highly trained medical professionals.
I mean, seriously, you are not a scientologist, right?
Self-help culture, rarely with any stated intent, backs the individual into a corner. If the tools attempted don’t produce the effect we want, it is natural to experience a sense of failure, or even disregard for the tools themselves. We subsequently jump to the next ‘intervention’ believing it might do the trick.
So, what if you find yourself trapped? What should you do?
Signs That It’s Time To Call Your Doctor
First, before you engage in any level of self-care, especially when it comes to clinical depression, it is important to discuss strategies with your physician. This should be an ongoing conversation. No amount of self-help advice can trump this necessity.
Second, allow me to assert the following: For those opposed to medical advice, there is little chance that we can convince you otherwise. For the rest of us, it just might be the intervention that saves your life.
Now, let’s get to the point! Clinical depression is a serious illness that often runs in families. We suggest you use the following six indicators for knowing when it is time to pick up the phone:
- You have lost pleasure in things that normally bring you joy.
- Your body feels slow – Getting out of bed feels like a serious effort.
- You wake up early in the morning feeling just as depressed as when you went to bed the night before.
- Family and friends are providing you feedback that something is wrong.
- Your thinking feels sluggish, evidenced by word finding and frequently losing track of conversation.
- You start to believe that calling the doctor is a waste of time, thinking, “It won’t work anyway.”
The Perfect Combination – Biopsychosocial
At Finding My Psych, we consider many of the techniques we promote as falling into the category of ‘self-help.’ Seems like a stark contradiction, right? So, what’s the difference?
For any challenge, especially in cases of clinical depression, we firmly promote a holistic approach to self-care. This means considering exercise, diet, cognitions, and emotional wellbeing when embarking on a personalized intervention.
Furthermore, we believe that clinicians should be well versed in the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual aspects of providing treatment (biopsychosocial). Peer reviewed evidence suggests that when each element is considered together, the best care outcomes become possible.
Self-help has an important place in treatment. However, it does not stand on its own. This can also be said about pharmacological interventions – By themselves, outcomes are rarely as robust compared to a holistic set of interventions.
Negative outcomes occur when your self-help approach becomes myopic, or better stated, when individuals believe they do not need professional input along the way. If you are suffering from clinical depression, symptom improvement is likely when you incorporate medical screening and intervention (including medication), not self-help techniques alone.