There is always some reason in madness
- Friedrich Nietzsche
V – What Does Work?
There are no simple fix-all cures, but there are techniques and tricks that can help.
Everything you do rewires your brain, alters your brain chemistry. Even making a cup of tea. What really beds in change is regular practice. For example musicians and taxi drivers significantly change their brains due to their practice. Neuroplasticity shows how we can rewire our brains to great advantage – recent research shows that we create thousands of new neurons each day, even into old age.
And so talk therapies can leverage this to get the root of the problem and literally rewire the brain. For example, many therapies can give you tricks to push your mind out of the negative rumination that is at the core of the destructive cycle of depression.
Study after study backs this up. And the evidence is clear that although drugs may reduce some symptoms in the short term as much as these therapies, the relapse rate with drugs is more than double that of these approaches.
Jonah Lehrer said: “patients who escaped depression with the help of anti-depressants, and then stopped taking the drugs, relapsed about 70 percent of the time. The chemical boost was temporary. However, during the 18 month follow-up period, only 28 percent of patients in mindfulness therapy slipped back into the mental illness. What we often forget is that therapy alters the chemical brain, just like a pill. It’s easy to dismiss words as airy nothings and talk therapy as mere talk. Sitting on a couch can seem like such an antiquated form of treatment. But the right kind of talk can fix our broken mind, helping us escape from the recursive loop of stress and negative emotion that’s making us depressed. Changing our thoughts is never easy and, in severe cases, might seem virtually impossible. We live busy lives and therapy requires hours of work and constant practice; our cortex can be so damn stubborn. But the data is clear: If we are seeking a long-lasting cure for depression, then it’s typically our most effective treatment.“
In fact, psychotherapy and mindfulness mediation can even alleviate physical conditions, for example gastritis and tinnitus.
There’s a better way to understand people with psychological problems: psychologists and psychiatrists use formulation: “we don’t ask what is wrong with someone, rather we ask what has happened to them.“
- Systemic Therapy – looks a person as defined by their relationships with other people.
- Body Psychotherapy is pretty cool – using the body to gain a greater awareness of mind. After all the mind would not exist as it is, without the inputs from the body. I’ve tried Focusing and found it effective.
- Mindfulness is an approach I’ve been using for a few years and, while I don’t have issues with depression or the like, it has helped me to sleep better, to relax more, to appreciate the moment, and maintain more healthy relationships. Self awareness is what this practice gives you, which is the first and hardest step towards change, as most therapists will agree.
Point is, there are plenty of approaches, so you can choose the style that best suits you and your problems.
Part IV – Psychiatry in the previous post.