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A mental health journey to wellness and balance can be a long, winding and sometimes confusing one. Getting on top of your mental health is no mean feat – and can be equally as complex as the issues themselves, so it’s always best to approach with care and consideration, so you come away from it all feeling stronger and more capable.

The first step to achieving wellness is always to seek the help you need – and this doesn’t always have to mean jumping straight into booking an appointment with a psychologist for the very first time. It can be as simple as asking for help – from your family, your friends, or your partner. Or even taking it one step back, simply the act of identifying your problems and admitting to yourself that perhaps it’s time to seek support.

A really great first avenue to gain the support you need is to see your GP. This is a good way to ease into the idea of next steps – being less specified, it can feel less formal – especially if you have a regular or family GP. Your GP will talk through how you’re feeling and may give you a test or checklist depending on what you’re experiencing. For example – the test for anxiety and depression typically used is called a K10 checklist – you can even do this one yourself via Beyond Blue here.

From here, moving forward can involve getting a referral to a psychologist, a script for medication, or both. It can be a bit of an overwhelming process, especially if it is not something you’ve gone through before. So, where do you go from there?

Treatment is not one size fits all…

This may not be the most satisfying reality – but as we have said, the journey to wellness is not as straightforward as we might like. Some people find therapy alone is beneficial enough for them, some will need additional help that medication can provide, and some will find that they like the idea of therapy but that they don’t connect with their first therapist (if this is the case – we always encourage you to address it with your psychologist, or seek help to find another!).

While medication can be really effective, it’s vital to not consider it a “fix all”. Many say therapy and medication work best when hand in hand – where therapy can educate you with the tools and knowledge to overcome your issues, medication can give you the extra support to moderate your emotions and physical symptoms.

Different issue, different treatment.

There is a lot of evidence and research surrounding both the different types of therapy available to you and the effectiveness of different medications to treat various mental health conditions. For example – if you are suffering from depression, cognitive behavioural therapy (or CBT) can be effective and can be teamed with antidepressant medication.

If you’re considering medication, it’s really important to discuss your symptoms and the potential side effects with your GP to identify the best type of medication for you. Becoming “dependent” on medication or the idea that progress will be “unauthentic” is also a common fear. Discuss your worries and concerns with your doctor so you can work through them or be reassured.

There are a lot of options out there – for both therapies and medications – and it is always going to serve you better if you can get your head around the way everything works, so don’t be afraid to ask questions!

How can I measure the success of my treatments?

Whatever you discuss and decide to start with, it’s best to stick with the treatment plan for a period of time (at least 4-6 weeks) so you can determine if it’s for you before adding anything else into the mix. As we all know, life changes all the time – as do we! So even once you’ve found something that works, you should still make time for regular check ins with both your psychologist and/or your GP to determine if you need to switch things up.

The best way to measure the success of your treatments is to determine and define some initial goals and a timeline – you can choose to share these with your GP and your psychologist too. Having your own plan and identifying your priorities is important and will serve you really well down the track. Your plan may evolve, grow and change but it will help you stay aware of where you are at on your journey.

If you feel you’re ready to start your journey to life balance and emotional wellness, reach out to our expert psychologists and we can start getting you on track.

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