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Today, millions of people have mental health problems, including such common disorders as depression or anxiety. Poor mental health means that a person is challenged to think, feel, and act appropriately because of certain internal or external factors. These extreme states are relativistic and cannot be defined either as good or bad, but unusual (“An interview with Arny Mindell on extreme states,” 1994). The work of a counselor implies the necessity to understand and recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, as well as find “the missing pieces of reality” that impact innermost lives (Hauser, 1994). At the same time, it is not enough for a counselor to be acknowledged of mental health issues and optimal approaches to their treatment. It is also important to listen, observe different cases, and reflect on them personally and professionally. In this paper, special attention will be paid to depression and anxiety as the two mental health conditions with which society faces regularly, and a counselor has to work.
Depression and Anxiety
Depression is a serious mood disorder that may have different forms, depending on the circumstances under which it is developed. According to Loeken (1994), it has already become an epidemic in modern society. For example, postpartum depression is observed among women of any age, social background, race, or education who have recently given birth but do not find it necessary to recognize it as a problem for some time (National Institute of Mental Health, 2016). Watching videos where mothers share their problems and experiences helps counselors to understand the unpredictability of depression and the impossibility to choose one common solution and treatment.
Anxiety is another common mental health issue that could change the lives of different people. Its forms include panic disorders, phobia-related behaviors, or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) (National Institute of Mental Health, 2018a). The work of counselors cannot be ignored if people feel worried, afraid, or tense without any particular reasons. Bullying behavior is one of the possible causes of anxiety that contributes to changes in cognitive or emotional development (National Institute of Mental Health, 2013). Observations and evaluation of human behaviors at different stages and under various conditions are useful sources for information for counselors to increase their understanding of the condition.
Signs and Symptoms
As a rule, mental health problems have similar signs like behavioral changes, and the task of a counselor is to differentiate symptoms, diagnose patients, and choose treatment plans. The National Institute of Mental Health (2018b) introduces rather clear signs of depression, including persistent sad mood, irritability, decreased energy, appetite loss, and difficult concentration. However, the list of these symptoms is far from being complete, and personal experiences or observations play an important role in a counselor’s work. For example, women with postpartum depression may feel overwhelmed, stressed, and unable to act according to their plans (National Institute of Mental Health, 2016). The role of a counselor is to recognize this condition at its early stage and offer appropriate psychotherapy and/or medication.
Depending on its types, anxiety in people may be observed through a variety of symptoms. Patients with GAD suffer from irritability, fatigue, and sleep problems. During panic disorders, people experience sweating, shaking, and heart palpations (National Institute of Mental Health, 2018a). Phobias result in taking unpredictable steps, the development of excessive worry, or the desire to avoid the use of some objects, people, and places. Family history is one of the major contributors to the growth of mental health problems. As well as depression, anxiety may be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or both (National Institute of Mental Health, 2018a). Any therapist should be flexible and creative during his/her work with mentally ill people (Goodbread, 1994). The task of a counselor is to make sure that patients use professional help and follow recommendations given by mental health experts.
The offered information about depression and anxiety affects me as a person and a counselor in different ways. For example, when my friend gave birth, she began experiencing new emotions and feelings. In the beginning, behavioral changes were associated with her new role as a mother. With time, her decisions and reactions attracted my attention because they were not rational and ordinary for her. As a person and a friend, I wanted to support her and offer emotional help. As a counselor, I understood that such kind of mood had a specific name – postpartum depression. My friend needed professional help and therapy, and I was ready to give her some recommendations.
I find depression and anxiety as normal reactions to the development of the modern world, personal achievements, and changes. Professionally, I understand that these mental health issues are the problems that require optimal treatments to be offered. As a person, I realize that I am vulnerable to both of these conditions, and I must be prepared for behavioral changes. Investigations offered by the National Institute of Mental Health, personal stories, and journal articles are credible sources to improve my understanding of the topic. As well as any patient, I may read the stories and compare them with my experience to define if I am already mentally challenged.
Counselor’s Perspective on Mental Health Problems
As a counselor, I have to be prepared to help people who suffer from depression, anxiety, or other extreme states and conditions. The chosen area undergoes regular changes and discoveries, and my task is to check for some new information in order to offer optimal help and therapy. Sometimes, it is easy to diagnose a patient and develop a treatment plan. In some cases, patients need more time and communication to understand the root of the problem. In the context of the client and social welfare and safety, the counselor’s help may have different forms, depending on personal needs and external factors. However, one point remains the same – mental health problems cannot be ignored, and a counselor is equipped with enough knowledge and practice to offer urgent and necessary aid.
In general, the theme of mental health may be discussed through the prism of multiple perspectives and approaches. This paper is a good chance to understand the role of a counselor who works with depressed or anxious people. The offered experiences and research are useful, both personally and professionally. Depression and anxiety are the conditions that are observed in people of various ages, gender, and race. These mental health issues have different signs and symptoms, and counselors are responsible for diagnosing only after thorough observation, communication, and evaluation. I am glad to have such a chance to use the information offered by the National Institute of Mental Health, improve my understanding of mental health, and define my duties as a counselor.
An interview with Arny Mindell on extreme states. (1994). The Journal of Process Oriented Psychology, 6(1), 7-10.
Goodbread, J. (1994). Homage to R. D. Laing: A new politics of experience. The Journal of Process Oriented Psychology, 6(1), 11-18.
Hauser, R. (1994). A message in the bottle: Process work with addictions. The Journal of Process Oriented Psychology, 6(2), 85-90.
Loeken, J. (1994). Being Prozac. The Journal of Process Oriented Psychology, 6(1), 35-37.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2013). Bullying exerts psychiatric effects into adulthood [Video file]. Web.
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National Institute of Mental Health. (2016). “Baby blues” – Or postpartum depression [Video file]. Web.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2018a). Anxiety disorders. Web.
National Institute of Mental Health. (2018b). Depression. Web.