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  • Ananya Kataruka

Why you should go to therapy despite the stigma around it

The stigma and shame associated with going to therapy and talking about one’s mental health and illnesses has decreased in modern times, but unfortunately, it is still prevalent almost everywhere around the world. This negative connotation associated with the words 'therapy’ or ‘counselling’ has been a major deterrent for thousands of people wanting to seek help, or just wanting to simply open up to someone in a safe environment.

People fear going to see a counsellor as they don’t want to be judged or seen in a different light by other people. Some people who have internalised this stigma, are also afraid that their self image and their place in society would suffer greatly if they were to be diagnosed with a mental illness. Due to societal stigma around mental illnesses, people who suffer from these illnesses can often consider themselves to be inadequate and feel guilty about their condition. They may also fear being labelled as ‘lunatics’ or being called ‘crazy’. A lot of people reduce someone’s whole personality and character to the characteristics of their illness and individuals with such a diagnosis do not want that for themselves.

So, in spite of all the stigma, why should people still go to therapy? The benefits of therapy are numerous. Therapy not only encourages people to talk openly about any issues that they might be facing, it also helps them understand their triggers and ways to manage them. People dealing with common mental illnesses like anxiety, depression and other stress disorders, greatly profit from counselling and therapy as it helps them manage the symptoms caused by these afflictions. Being under the guidance of a counsellor helps an individual to become aware of their mental thought processes, which can empower them to make healthy choices regarding their interpersonal relationships, develop their own self worth and confidence, and cope with day to day pressures.

Therapy helps significantly in the diagnosis of an illness as well as with the treatment of it. Depression is an illness which if left untreated can lead to disastrous circumstances. It can hinder one’s quality of life and cause drastic changes in a person’s appetite and sleep patterns. It is not just a simple sadness as most people assume it to be, it is a chronic misery. A good therapist can create a personal and congenial environment to heal. They can help in building new habits of reacting to a particular situation and grant individuals a chance to get back to the things that they love. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is when an individual performs illogical and repetitive actions to relieve the acute stress and anxiety caused by negative, continuous and unwanted thoughts. The person experiences great distress if they do not complete this behavior. A counsellor can help an individual understand their negative thought pattern and offer alternative ways through which they can break the cycle of their compulsions and suffering.

Some of the ways that you can follow to overcome the stigma and seek help are - being open about your struggles with mental health and illnesses with your loved ones. This can provide you with much needed support and acceptance. Confronting stigma and wrongful beliefs of people can provide others in a similar situation the courage to rise up and educate more people around them. Most importantly, don’t hesitate or feel uneasy to ask for help. Get the treatment and care that you need, despite what anyone else might think of you. Always remember that you are not alone on this journey and that you have a community of people who love, support and accept you.

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