FAQ

Q1 How do I know it’s time to get help?

Ans: People often consider therapy under the following circumstances:

  • When the way they feel is affecting their sleep, appetite, job, or relationships.

  • When things are not getting better.

  • When they can’t find the answers to their problems.

  • They feel an overwhelming and prolonged sense of sadness and helplessness, and they lack hope in their lives.

  • Their emotional difficulties make it hard for them to function fully from day to day.

  • Their actions are harmful to themselves or others.

  • They are troubled by problems facing family members or close friends.

Q2 How long does therapy last?
Ans: The length of treatment depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of the issues, the motivation of the individuals involved, and the goals. Brief therapy typically has a more specific goal or issue of focus, and can last from a few weeks to a few months. Longer term or open ended therapy may have more complex issues or concerns and can last up to a year or longer. Each weekly session lasts approximately 45 minutes.

Q3 Is this medication addicting?

Ans: Medication itself is never addicting because addiction is a clinical syndrome characterized by pathological salience (the substance is abnormally important to the individual and becomes a life-dominating obsession), drug seeking behaviour, dishonesty, excess and continued consumption despite negative consequences. Addiction, in other words, consists of a complex interaction between the individual and the substance. For reasons that are still unknown but which probably have to do with both heredity and environment, only certain individuals are vulnerable to the syndrome of addiction.

Q4 Is what we talk about confidential?
Ans: All personal information and issues discussed in therapy are completely confidential and cannot be released to a third party without your written permission, except where disclosure is required by law.

Q5 Do I have to take this medication for the rest of my life?

Ans: Although experience shows that some types of chronic or recurrent depression and other conditions do best with longer rather than shorter treatment, no one really knows for sure in an individual case whether medication will be required indefinitely. New medications and treatments are constantly being developed that will almost certainly transform our approach to psychiatric disorders in the next few decades. The important thing is to maintain good communication with the prescribing physician and to make decisions about length of medication use after thorough discussion. A not uncommon scenario is relapse of depression or other symptoms when medication is discontinued prematurely and without medical guidance.

Q6 What is a chemical imbalance?

Ans: Although the phrase "chemical imbalance" has no precise definition it is commonly used to describe a type of depression(major depression, endogenous depression) that is thought to result at least in part from deficiencies in certain brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters. Certain anxiety disorders as well as bipolar disorder(manic depressive disorder) and schizophrenia also involve disturbances of normal brain chemistry. Serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine and probably many other substances, some known, others not yet known, play a role in mood regulation. Antidepressants and other medications work by restoring normal levels of these brain chemicals. There are no currently useful laboratory tests for such imbalances. Evidence for the chemical imbalance theory comes from research. In ordinary clinical practice the diagnosis of a "chemical imbalance" is made from the patient's history and symptoms and from his response to treatment.

Q7 How do shock treatments work?

Ans: Shock treatments or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) induce an artificial epileptic seizure by means of a small electric current applied to the skull. Before the ability of electricity to create a seizure was discovered various other methods, including intramuscular and intravenous injections of chemicals known to cause seizures were used. The ability of spontaneously occurring epileptic seizures to relieve certain mental illnesses was noted in the last century and led to a search for a safe and effective way to create seizures in non-epileptics. It is thus the seizure and not the electricity or any other means of causing it that is the effective thing in convulsive therapy. Modern ECT is always done under light anaesthesia and after a powerful fast-acting muscle relaxant has been administered that totally blocks the visible bodily response to the seizure. Often the only evidence that a seizure has actually occurred is the readout on the EEG (brainwave monitor). 

Q 8 Will hypnosis help?

Ans: Hypnosis is simply a means of focusing attention. It can often be useful in strengthening motivation for change, e.g. smoking cessation, weight loss, exercising &etc. There is nothing magical about it, however. And although it is an intuitively appealing idea that hypnosis could provide a "short cut" to repressed or forgotten memories that might prove helpful in therapy, there is no reliable evidence that this is the case. Trying to access the unconscious directly by hypnosis is like trying to go someplace without actually taking the journey. The actual effective and lasting part of most therapy involves confronting and working through resistances and repressions, not bypassing them. The journey is actually the destination.

Q9 what is a split personality?

Ans: There is no category or phenomenon in psychiatry called split personality. The term is commonly used in popular language to indicate a contradictory or drastically and dramatically alternating type of behavior of the"Jekyll and Hyde" type. It is often confused with the medical illness of schizophrenia because the etymology of the latter(from the Greek schizein, to split + phren, mind) suggests, misleadingly, that schizophrenia is a type of split personality. In schizophrenia, however, the splitting is within one single personality as the individual's thoughts, feelings and emotions are seriously and confusingly disconnected from each other in a chaotic and random fashion. Schizophrenic individuals, far from having split or multiple personalities, actually have a great struggle maintaining the coherence and integrity of even a single self.

Q10 Can people still be sent away or committed to mental hospitals?

Ans: "Snake pit" and long term mental asylum images from old movies and popular literature still frighten many people but they no longer represent the way things are. Although individuals who are obviously mentally ill and dangerous to themselves or others can be legally detained and evaluated for safety, involuntary treatment(treatment against the individual's wishes) has become uncommon. There are all kinds of legal safeguards expressly designed to prevent abuses of psychiatric treatment - so many, in fact, that it is often difficult to treat desperately and dangerously ill individuals who do not recognize the condition they are in. Nor are people hospitalized for long periods of time any more. The old state mental hospitals where some patients lived for years, even their entire lives in some cases, no longer exist. Inpatient treatment today, if it is provided at all, is typically a matter of days or weeks, not months or years. Ironically, and unfortunately, the major difficulty patients today encounter is not getting out of a psychiatric hospital when they don't need to be there - it is getting in to one when they urgently require help.

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