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What if I Never Get Better?

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

When you have a mental health condition, it is usually a chronic illness. This means, it is never going to go away completely. You may go into remission at times, and not have symptoms, sometimes for years. However, there is always the danger that your symptoms are going to return.

Psychiatric disorders aren't like other health conditions, because they can usually not be completely cured. It seems that the body can heal itself in ways that the mind cannot.

Typically, if you have a mental health disorder, you will be prescribed a course of talk therapy and medications. For some conditions, there are also alternative therapies that you can try alongside your other treatment.

If you have depression for example, Healthline says that some alternative treatments for depression include:

  • Acupuncture. A 2019 reviewof 29 studies suggested this traditional Chinese medicine practice may have clinically significant benefits for depression symptoms, both on its own and in combination with antidepressants.

  • St. John’s wort. Some research suggests St. John’s wort may help relieve mild to moderate depression symptoms, but this treatment won’t work for everyone. Always check with a healthcare professional before trying St. John’s wort, or any other herbal remedies.

  • Supplements. Adding supplements to your diet, such as vitamin D, saffron, and magnesium, could help improve mild to moderate depression symptoms.

  • Exercise. According to 2019 research, getting just 2 and a half hours of physical activity each week can help ease both depression and anxiety, with outdoor exercise offering more benefit than indoor exercise.

  • Music therapy. According to 2020 research, music therapy and music medicine — listening to music on your own — may temporarily help relieve symptoms of depression.

  • Relaxation techniques. Various approaches to relaxation, including meditation, yoga, and guided imagery, may help improve symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns.

These alternative forms of treatment may help alongside your regular course of therapy, so that you are getting additional benefits from practicing them as well.

Managing depression or another mental illness takes effort on your part, to make sure that you are going to therapy and doing any recommended homework, as well as taking your medication. Not getting better doesn't mean that you are weak. It means, you have a chronic condition that currently has no cure. That isn't your fault.

We in the mental health community need more research into our conditions, so that doctors aren't merely temporarily alleviating our symptoms. We deserve to have a cure for our disorders, just as much as we would for a physical illness. Mental illnesses are very real, and they can have devastating consequences for us, as well as the people in our lives.

After a recent visit to my mental health provider, I was talking to my boyfriend about the fact that I have an incurable condition. That means, I am always going to have some degree of symptoms. I might get better for a while, but there is always the gray cloud overhead, my symptoms can come back.

We talked about long-term care options, and that at some point I might need to get hospitalized because of my condition. It can be frightening to think that you might need to be cared for in a hospital, but most hospital stays are short term.

According to WebMD, Typical hospitalization for depression is for:

  • People who are at risk of hurting themselves or others. Preventing suicide and violence is the most common reason for hospitalization. A stay in the hospital allows you to get back in control.

  • People who are unable to function. Hospitalization makes sense if you are so depressed that you can't take care of yourself.

  • People who need observation when trying a new medication. Sometimes, your doctor may be fine-tuning your depression medicine and advise doing so under the close supervision of the hospital. Since you will be under constant observation there, your doctor will be able to see more easily how well a treatment is working.

  • People who need treatments that are given only in a hospital. Some treatments, like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), are usually given in the hospital. A stay in the hospital allows you to recover from anesthesia and gives your doctors a chance to see how you're doing after treatment.

If you fall into one of these categories, you may consider admitting yourself to a hospital. Or, a family member or loved one can take you to the hospital. You can go to the emergency room for your mental healthcare if you feel that you are having a crisis, and your symptoms are out of control.

There are a couple of times in the past that I went to the emergency room for my anxiety and depression, but I wasn't admitted for long-term care. At one point, I asked to be admitted because I felt like my symptoms were out of control, but they just gave me a Xanax and sent me home.

Your mental health may not actually be 'as bad' as you think it is. However, it is always best to error on the side of caution. You can go to the hospital at any time, especially if you are feeling suicidal. The hospital can refer you to outpatient treatment, and help you get into a treatment facility more quickly.

Talking to your family members about the possibility of a hospital stay in your future is a good way to plan ahead for the type of care that you may need. It is important for the people close to you to know that your symptoms aren't always under your control.

A mental health condition effects the way that your brain functions. This can impact both your thoughts and emotions. Sometimes, negative thoughts and feelings can spiral out of control quite quickly. Other times, you will begin the downward spiral over a period of time and it is easier to spot.

However it happens for you, please don't feel ashamed to speak up for yourself and your mental health needs. It isn't your fault that you have a disease for which at this time there is no cure.


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