Do I Need Therapy? How To Get A Proper Mental Health Assessment

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Do I Need Therapy? How To Get A Proper Mental Health Assessment
Self, Health And Wellness

In the work I do as a life coach and mental health advocate, helping people spot whether or not they need a mental health assessment is an important undertaking I take quite seriously.

I often speak to people about my experience living with mental illness — what my life was like when I was in throes of it all, what I do fo treatment and how I manage living with it successfully.

More often than not, after I give a public presentation, someone comes up to me and tells me that I have just spoken their own personal story out loud.

They tell me that they have been living with hopelessness and dread for such a long time, and that they didn’t recognize their mental health condition for what it was until they heard me tell my story.

And each time, the person approaching my in full vulnerability wants to know what they should do next, looking at me full of confusion as they ask, "Do I need therapy?"

Often, when someone first recognizes they might need help with mental health issues, they feel paralyzed and unable to delve further into figuring how to go about getting a proper mental health assessment. They're unsure who they can turn to help them manage it.

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Luckily, getting a proper mental health assessment isn’t as hard as it seems.

The first place to go is to your primary care physician (PCP), the doctor you probably already see and know fairly well.

Primary care doctors are trained to recognize the signs of trauma, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.

They will ask you a series of questions so that they can better understand what you are struggling with. When they have an understanding of what's going on, they will then be able to make a proper recommendation.

They might recommend blood tests or other screening to rule out a physical cause for your symptoms.

They might encourage you to see a talk therapist, also known as a psychotherapist, who can help you dig deeper into what is troubling you, then work toward more effective problem solving strategies, behavior patterns and coping skills.

They might recommend a psychiatrist, a medical doctor who can help identify whether medication would be an appropriate and useful route for you to go.

And they might recommend a nutritionist if your diet is off.

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(They might even prescribe a medication right there on the spot, but research has found that combined treatment (i.e., medication and talk therapy) is most effective in treatment the majority of mental health issues.)

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You might feel hesitant to take the next step after that but, at the very least, your primary care physician doctor can set you down the right path for dealing with your mental health issues.

I remember going into to see the psychiatrist my primary care doctor recommended after I had a nervous breakdown 12 years ago.

He was 110 years old, and his office had orange shag carpeting and macramé plant holders.

"What the hell can this guy do for me?" I remember thinking.

He spent 20 minutes asking me questions before he diagnosed me with bipolar disorder II.

I had been struggling my whole life, and an expert was able to identify the root cause of my issues in just 20 minutes.

That doctor put me on a medication regime and recommended a talk therapist — and now, 12 years later, my bipolar disorder and depression are finally manageable and my life is much better than ever before.

If you are struggling with any kind of mental health issues, I encourage you to pick up the phone and make an appointment with your primary care doctor.

They can help you identify the proper course of treatment and give you a chance to live a happy and fulfilled life.

Do it now!

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Mitzi Bockmann is a NYC-based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate whose writing has been published on The Huffington Post, Prevention, Psych Central, Pop Sugar, MSN and The Good Man Project, among others. She works all kinds of people to help them to be all that they want to be in this crazy world in which we live, so email her to get started.