Five barriers to using self help
Anxiety problems are usually linked with depression. These two common yet devastating psychological problems are causing more misery than almost anything in our modern society. Depression and anxiety are both very treatable by psychological means with approaches like CBT therapy or interpersonal psychotherapy. However, instead of searching for a therapist or going to the NHS, many people are now opting to use self help tools or complete solutions packaged in self help systems.
Can you really recover from depression and anxiety using self help?
Short answer YES, long answer it takes a bit of time and effort on your part but again definitely YES. Furthermore my research suggests that about 70% of sufferers of depression and anxiety can quite adequately help themselves. If this is the case why is depression and anxiety still such a huge problem today? Well there are barriers to being able to use self help systems and tools. I have noted the 5 most commonly cited as reasons not to use self help.
What are the natural limitations on self help?
To help yourself you have to have some knowledge of how to do it
You probably don’t know enough to just pull yourself out of depression or anxiety. I don’t mean to be cruel but first off, it is hard to always have good insight into your own psychological issues and processes. This is just a fact that applies to me as much as it does you. There is information that you could apply today that would change your life but if you had it then you would likely be applying it. Even so, all of the knowledge you need to help yourself out of depression and anxiety already exists on the web. But it is likely to be in an unstructured format with bits here and there. And lets face it you don't necessarily want to make yourself an expert on psychotherapy, you just want to know what you need to know, now. The wide ranging opinions on how to help yourself and the poor structure of much of the information available on the web presents a barrier that can stop you from taking real advantage of self help.
A complete self help system gives you more confidence
If you are at all like me you will want to be pretty sure that where you put your effort is going to yield results. Shooting in the dark is a poor strategy for success and after a while is quite demoralising. But how do you choose the best self help tools? And if you choose wrongly will you have enough energy to go through the whole process again. I think these are very reasonable concerns that can make you reluctant to invest the time and effort needed to really help yourself. In many respects using packaged CBT systems is the best guarantee that your efforts will yield the outcomes you desire.
Does it seem hard to commit to feeling good
Many people feel that they want to dip in and out of self help without really committing themselves. That is okay up to a point but commitment to feeling good is related to feeling good. If you don’t apply a systematic approach to going through the steps of self help then the bits you miss out, maybe because they are harder to do, will leave gaps in your knowledge and gaps in the completeness of your treatment.
Do you believe your own self defeating critical voice?
A lot of people believe their own brainwashing. What…I am not brainwashed you cry! Of course you aren't it’s a metaphor, but then you also believe a heck of a lot of falsehoods, fantasies and lies you tell to yourself. I just call it brain washing, what it is really is an over familiarity with the negative thought patterns of depression and the threat based thought patterns of anxiety. In my clinical practice I meet delightful people every single day who are quite convinced that deep down they are really horrible people with no endearing qualities and that they are are going to be exposed as a fraud at any moment. This is deeply deeply distorted and faulty thinking that if left unchecked or challenged causes real problems. Believing your own negative press is a barrier to being able to use self help.
Do believe that using self help is hard?
You might think it is hard to help yourself. This is the biggest falsehood of them all. Nothing is farther from the truth. It is quite straightforward to help yourself if you know how and if you have the tools at your disposal. It is far harder to live with depression and anxiety than it is to actually take a few small steps to challenge these life destroyers. Self help only seems hard if you don’t know what to do.
I find one of the best assurances of value is to look at the comments of other users. I always look at the comments on Amazon or ebay just to get an idea of the build or value of something before I buy it. The same is true of self help. Look at the experience of other people because it can give you confidence that the system on offer is complete, comprehensive and useful. A user of mood Control sent me this email last week and I thought it was very nice so with his permission I have reproduced it here.
A Mood Control user got exactly what he needed from the full CBT system
"I have just completed the Mood Control course. I know that I have learnt some valuable tools that if I practice and make them part of my life will see me well in my future. I really feel that I can improve my experience and gain control of my emotions rather than being controlled by anger, rage, stress ,anxiety . Thanks Dr Purves I found you on You Tube and this was exactly what I was looking for. I had actually started having some CBT sessions with a therapist after a particularly bad bout of anxiety brought on by promotion at work. This was better value for money and I felt you addressed my issues and gave me alternative ways to deal with and understand my mood. I stopped seeing the therapist after only two sessions I felt mood control was better value."
It is worth stating that this man worked at Mood control. He went right through the course and he seemed to make it his goal to overcome his problems. And we can read from his testimonial that he got what he needed. His effort at self help delivered to him what he sought. There is no reason that everyone who wants to change their life could not do the same. Once the 5 barriers are recognised and challenged self help is relatively simple. And the best bit of using self help is that you OWN the progress you make, you can't attribute it to an anti depressants or clever therapist. It is all down to you applying yourself to solve a problem and feeling good for doing it.