How much can you ever really help someone change? In my early adult years, I was close to a few people who suffer from anxiety and depression. They are all on medication that help their symptoms to some extent, however, the root of the problem—whatever is causing the anxiety and depression—remains.
Can we as outsiders help those close to us deal with their inner turmoil? Whatever is going on in my head is certainly very different than what is going on in anyone else’s. I’ve heard cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to be a treatment for a variety of conditions including anxiety and depression, but also eating disorders and substance abuse.
CBT aims to improve mental health by focusing on unhelpful thoughts and behaviors and improving our emotional reaction and the development of coping techniques. Unlike medications, CBT treats the “humanness” around the conditions. It gets to the root of the repetitive negative, thoughts, impulses, and outlooks. While CBT alone is not enough to treat many conditions, it is thought of as a beneficial complement to a medicine regime.
CBT gets people to recognize and combat their own challenges. It is by nature a very personal experience. CBT is the sort of positive change that a trained professional can facilitate. However, how much can we laypeople do to help those close to us? I ask myself this question whenever I am around a friend or loved one is struggling. How can I help, is it possible?
I have seen the symptoms of depression up close. I have seen depression take away one’s appetite, take away one’s will to leave the house, and ability to take care of oneself on a basic level. How can we help when we do not know what is going on in one’s head or we cannot feel the intense emotions that another regularly lives with? I don’t know. I can listen, I can be there when you need me, but I all I really want to do is take those evil little emotions out from your head and wash your brain clean of harmful thoughts. In my experience, we cannot do so much. Unfortunately, we the ones close to you cannot take away the pain, however, we can witness, offer support when you need it, and call for help when you cannot do it on your own.
I wish we could all think our way to a better place, however, I know that this is naive and nothing more than a pipe dream. Ultimately, I think change comes from within ourselves. Some need lifestyle change, others improve with CBT, and many require medication. We humans are beautiful, complex, and fragile creatures. We could all use a good friend. At the end of the day, Dear Reader, a little more goodness never hurt anyone.