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Managing Mental Illness and Depression

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These Questions originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answers by Paul Gilmartin, former TV Host, current host of the Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast, on Quora.

A: Psychologists and therapists can't prescribe meds. Psychiatrists are medical doctors and they can. Psychiatrists aren't trained as extensively as therapists in talk therapy. Some psychiatrists have no training at all in talk therapy and are terrible at it. Some aren't. I think having both a therapist and psychiatrist and therapist is a great combination, especially if they're willing to talk to each other.

Psychologists and therapists both have degrees in psychology. Psychologists can do talk therapy if they study that branch of psychology but some psychologists don't and focus on things like research or advocacy. The psychologists who do talk therapy can also practice a wide range of "modalities" which are ways in which they help their clients. No one modality is the best, it depends on the client.

Social workers can also do talk therapy and are similar in many ways to therapists if they've had the talk therapy training. There are lots of different types of social workers. Many work on the structure of mental health services and don't work directly with clients.


A: Tell them you're their for them. Ask them if there's a way to help them. Don't try to fix them or cheer them up. Just listen to them. Hug them. Call and check up on them. Research what they're battling. In a nutshell, love and compassion. The sufferer also has a responsibility to get help to get better because otherwise those relationships become toxic and one-sided and then the best choice (in my opinion) is to express that and if things don't change, detach with compassion by either limiting or cutting contact until they show a willingness, a consistent and genuine willingness to get help.

Have compassion for them but not at the expense of compassion for yourself. Feeling drained or dreading dealing with them is a pretty good sign something needs addressing.

There are tons of support groups for loved ones. Seeing a therapist is never a bad idea.


A: For some people there may not be a cause and searching for it should not be our biggest focus. If there is one, discovering it is often a byproduct of the work of simply learning how to live life with the help of a therapist or allies who understand.

I think seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist is a great combination because the therapist can help with the emotional and historical issues and the psychiatrist can help with the physical component. I'm not saying everyone should take meds but I don't think they should ever be ruled out.


A:Probably taking contrary action. When I want to isolate the most is when I should be reaching out the most. When I'm angriest is when I should most be practicing acceptance. When I'm feeling the most selfish and empty is when I most need to help another person.

The obsession to engage in the addiction may have left but we still have to deal with the feelings that made us want to escape. Those may ease with time but it takes a concerted effort on a daily basis, especially going to my support groups and connecting and helping other addicts as well as reaching out for help when I need it. An addicts brain warps reality through fear, resentment, selfishness and a host of other spiritual/mental defects. An addict will always be an addict but with a concerted effort addiction can be managed.

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