What should I do if I have depression and want to see a counselor but have heard that counseling cannot solve my problem completely?
1. There are some benefits for depressed people to receive psychological counseling, but a counselor cannot directly treat depression and cannot assume medical responsibility.
If psychiatry is compared to an internist who prescribes medication, psychotherapy is like rehabilitation physiotherapy in a hospital, while counseling is close to a spa massage in a health club. Of course, some patients will have a spa to make themselves sweat and relieve their sickness, but it is no substitute for formal medical treatment.
2. Counsellors focus more on stress, confusion, adjustment, and interpersonal problems, and their work overlaps somewhat with psychotherapists, but they do not have the qualification to ‘treat’ patients.’
3. What we call ‘psychologists’ are psychotherapists, as opposed to counselors outside of hospitals. Psychotherapists work in the hospital psychology department, and their patients need to be registered or referred by a psychiatrist.
4. Psychiatrists, who also specialize in treating depression, work in psychiatric departments at hospitals and provide treatment at a physiological level, mainly through medication and electro-neurophysiological therapy, to regulate levels of neural activity.
5. The causes of depression are multifaceted, both physical and psychological, so the treatment needs to be multi-pronged. Again, listen to your doctor’s advice on how many medications doctors take and how many psychotherapies to do.
6. If your doctor advises you to be hospitalized, it may be because you are in a depressive episode and are at some risk of suicide. Staying in a ward with 24-hour supervision will prevent accidents and allow smoother treatment. In addition, you will usually be relieved from the depressive episode after a week or two of regular therapy. You can be discharged from the hospital to take your medication at home.
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