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I have to be the BEST (‘better’) version of myself.

How often you tell yourself that you've to do your best whenever you're faced with a problem. Even if there is no immediate problem to be resolved, you still carry the burden of being the "best" version of yourself.

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I’ve to do my best‘ mindset leads to an all-or-nothing thinking pattern, where you believe that you’ve failed if you don’t achieve your goal of losing ten pounds. 

All-or-nothing thinking, a cognitive distortion or logical error, leads to low self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness and avoidant behaviour.

 You continue to suffer in silence as you’re not aware that you can get psychological help to make you feel better. Even if you’re aware, you may be afraid to seek psychological services as you fear being ostracized at your workplace or society.

The month of February has been declared as Psychology month to create greater awareness of the work psychologists do.

 People need not suffer in silence and use maladaptive measures to feel “better,” like substance usage. At times, substance usage may lead to antisocial behaviours, shoplifting. I have met with many who have been incarcerated for these very reasons. 

Some of us use food as comfort, which exacerbates any mental health issues we may already have, like having low self-esteem.

We see the symptoms of mental health problems around us, our workplace, or our social life. I have met with people who are severe nail biters. Even though they may be well-dressed and are successful in their lives, their fingernails reveal their mental health issues, like having high anxiety. 

Headaches or body pain may lead to lost days for the individual at work with no accompanying physical health diagnosis. Another example is when the sufferer often interprets high anxiety and panic attacks as having a heart attack. Again, individuals may not be aware that their anxiety of being in a closed space can be resolved or minimized.

At times, I find the general population finds it difficult to differentiate between a psychiatrist and a psychologist’s job description. For them, consulting a psychiatrist is an extension of their treatment from their family doctor. However, they do not think it necessary to see a psychologist. One of the reasons may be that they are waiting for the psychotropics to work. 

Here, psychoeducation may be useful. Mild to moderate depression can be treated with psychotherapy ( Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) guidelines).

Family sessions with a psychologist are useful for the overall treatment of the client.  

However, at times families can be enablers as their intervention can lead to the deterioration in the individual’s functioning. It is valid for those families where their loved one has limited insight into their mental illness. We read in the news about parents refusing to finance their adult child’s substance usage; soon after that, the loving relationship between parents and children changes. 

Timely psychological help identifies maladaptive behaviours in children and adolescents, where affected families can take adequate measures. It can be recognizing that their teen has behaviour issues that are affecting the teen’s functioning.

After a suicide attempt, family members say that they were not aware that their loved one was depressed. However, they would have been aware that their adult child had withdrawn from social interaction. Then, their son/ daughter had started to smoke more and recently had been neglecting their care. In this case, the family can use psychological intervention to understand and discuss ways to support their loved ones’ mental health.

Psychoeducation creates awareness of mental health issues and empowers people to identify mental health problems they or their loved ones may have. 

Another advantage of psychoeducation is it will start people to talk about their sleep problems, for example. 

By decreasing the stigma attached to accessing mental health services, you can hope to optimize your functioning, as you can now focus on trying to be a “BETTER’ version of yourself.

This article was published in the Telegraph-Journal.

The picture is from Mind Matters A.S. Consulting; https://www.facebook.com/mindmattersasconsulting/.

 Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes and should not substitute for psychotherapy with a qualified professional

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