If Pain Is Inevitable Suffering Is Optional: Why Help Is Crucial
By: Patricia Oelze
Updated February 05, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Kristen Hardin
Mental pain can take many forms. Whether it's simply anxiety, stress, feeling like your mind is overwhelmed, or being in emotional pain from low self-worth. Mental anguish hurts as much as physical pain at times but it's often much harder to get treatment. When you have a broken bone, you can easily show someone what it is that hurts, but when you're dealing with emotions, it's much more subjective and difficult for others to "see". While mental health professionals are very well aware of and don't have to "see" to treat and help you get better, it is harder for the person dealing with the problem to understand what they need and sometimes friends and family do not understand mental and emotional pain and could unintentionally invalidate your feelings and the struggle you are having.
What Causes Mental Pain
Mental anguish can be caused by many things. It could be something as easy to understand and relate to, such as losing a partner or a job, or something more complicated like a depressive disorder. Usually, it has something to do with an event or an action which has caused us to react just as strongly as if we were physically struck. Other forms of mental anguish can be caused by behavior or words that happened long ago, making it seem as if "nothing" causes the pain when it occurs. To understand what is causing your mental pain, think about anything that has happened to you recently, which will help you and your therapist come up with answers and solutions. If it is difficult to think of recent triggers or upsetting events, think back to a time when you felt content and happy, and then think about things that happened after that which changed the way you feel.
When it's Time to Get Help
Depression and sadness are completely normal feelings. Everyone will experience these feelings from time to time throughout their life. It is a normal and healthy response, even though it's painful, to upsetting events. For example, think how odd it would be if someone experienced a death in their family or lost a dear friend and were not at all sad.
So, what is the difference between "normal" sadness and depression that needs treatment? The criteria to be diagnosed with depressed currently states that you feel depressed and/or have a loss of interest in activities most of the day, more days than not, for at least two weeks. There are other parts of the criteria for the diagnosis, but that is the time frame. You should seek help if you've been depressed for more than 2 weeks but there is no right or wrong time, just when you are ready for change and feel like you no longer can better on your own. It is especially important to seek treatment when you find yourself unable to meet your responsibilities and perform the roles in your life such as occupational or school, family, and social duties. While most people wait longer than two weeks, it's harder to recover if the problem has been going on months or years. It's also important that you get help if you have others who rely on you such as children or elderly parents. If you are taking care of other people, you want to be your best self and be taking good care of yourself. Otherwise, it is hard to take care of others.
What If You Don't?
Many people think that depression and mental anguish will go away - It's just a "bad time". While this is true in many cases, it doesn't always go away. Living with depression and mental anguish can build up and take a toll on the person's psyche, physical health, and life decisions. When a person is in a depressive episode, it is hard for them to feel the energy and motivation to complete basic tasks, much less work toward goals and ambitions. Many people experiencing depression have difficulty sleeping and may gain or lose a significant amount of weight. If depression gets more severe, suicidal thoughts and actions or self-harm may occur.
If you choose not to get help at all then there's still hope. To regain normalcy and have a happy life free from mental pain, you need to be proactive and make changes. It's important not to dwell on the causes at this time but think positive about seeking help. While many people still function despite their depression, it's not a great quality of life.
Pain is Inevitable, Suffering is Optional - Get Help
The issue with many mental illnesses is that getting help requires motivation that can be hard to muster. Reaching out when you're struggling with anguish is hard because it's difficult to see past the issue itself and to make yourself feel worthy of accepting help. It also takes energy and courage to reach out and to know who to reach out to. If you are not sure if what you are experiencing requires treatment, talk to your family and friends, people who know you well. Often, their subjective feedback can be valuable as they may notice things like low mood, not doing things you usually do, more easily than you do as you may grow accustomed to these feelings. These things can start to feel normal. When you're ready, you can to start looking for a therapist or other mental health professional that specializes in whatever issue is causing your mental pain, though this is not a requirement. Mental health counselors are trained to work with a variety of mental health issues and depression is a common issue that therapists work with. There are many ways to find a therapist. You can do an internet search for therapists in your area, ask a friend or family member who has used a therapist before, or you can try online counseling.
A big advantage to online counseling is you can do it from your home. This can be really important with depression because, in the beginning, it can be really hard to just get out of the house. Sites like Better Help have an easy search and selection process to get connected with a counselor. BetterHelp has thousands of trained mental health professionals who are ready to help you. You can get started right away. All you need is an internet connection and a smartphone, tablet, or computer. You can communicate with your therapist in a variety of ways, one bound to fit your comfort level. You can schedule live sessions: phone, video, or chat, and you can also exchange messages with your counselor on the platform.
Remember, just because you are in pain right now does not mean it will always be like this. You can make the choice to do something to feel better. You do not have to be in pain and you don't have to struggle with it alone when help is a just click away.