Should I Go Back To Therapy?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I had a mild case of depression; I couldn’t quite finish taking care of it as I moved from the city I lived in. Different doctors, different treatments; I was finally convinced to go into therapy and just when I accepted to go, it was really helpful as my depression got worst (because of family and work problems). It really helped me. I was reluctant, but I’ve always thought it helped me get through a lot; including getting my master’s during a really really tough time. I got to feel so good, that I went to the complete opposite way and felt alive and happy as i’ve never felt before. My working proposals were working just great, it felt real good. My counselor saw me so good that we both saw fit that my therapy ended.

But now, I’m having to go into that little black hole of depression again. I mean I still take my meds, even increased my dosage, as I talked w/my psychiatrist, but I’m starting to feel I’m sinking again. On top of that I feel so vulnerable and weak and can’t have somebody touch me, even for my yearly check up, I was shaking. On my previous check up, I didn’t quite let my doctor finish checking me; so this year he told me to come prepared, and I don’t think that shaking was part of coming prepared.

I just think that it was “easy” the fact I was going to therapy and having someone help me sort out things. It certainly wasn’t easy all the time, but I mean, when I last saw my counselor, it seemed like I could take full charge of myself and everything else again, and I just feel like I’ve failed and hence why it seems an “easy route.” I should’ve been able to last longer. Please share your comments. Thank you.

A. If you were taking antibiotics and started to feel better, you’d be advised by medical professionals to continue the entire course of the medication. If you did not finish the full course of antibiotics, the underlying bacteria that caused the infection might not be killed and the infection could return. The antibiotics are in place to ensure that you are cured of the infection.

The example of antibiotics can be likened to therapy. If you are in therapy and you start to feel better then you shouldn’t stop going to treatment. You should only terminate therapy if you’re certain that the underlying issues that led to the problem have been fully cured. If you thought that you no longer needed therapy then it would have been better to reduce the number of sessions rather than stopping it completely. For instance, if you saw the therapist once a week then you could have tried decreasing the therapy to once every two weeks, then once a month, then once every two months, then twice a year.

The way you understand it, the reemergence of depression is a failure of your ability to “take full charge of [yourself].” You have essentially deemed yourself a failure because as you believe, you “should” be able to handle your own issues. This negative assertion is wrong. The truth is that among those who have ended therapy prematurely it is common for their issues to reemerge. I suspect that you stopped therapy too early when not all of the issues that caused the depression had been fully dealt with. It’s not that you’re a failure and going back to therapy would be the “easy” way out. In reality, going back to therapy would be the wise choice because you’d be going back to complete the full course of treatment and to ensure that you are cured of the depression. The only thing you may be guilty of is not staying in therapy long enough.

And even if you needed therapy for the rest of your life it would not mean that you’re taking the “easy” way out. If therapy helps you to feel better then why would you stop? From what you wrote, you were at your personal best when you attended therapy. Would you accuse a person who hired a personal trainer as taking the “easy” way out? What about the person who hires a stockbroker or an accountant to help manage their finances? By your logic, those people would be taking the “easy” way out too because they “should” know how to take care of their own health and financial issues.

The bottom line is this: if you were helped with therapy then you should go back. If the depression reemerged then it is most likely because you did not stay in therapy long enough to be cured or other problems have developed. You should attend therapy for as long as you feel you need it even if it takes years to cure your depression. Getting treatment for depression is nothing to be ashamed of. You are not a failure if you need therapy and you’d be foolish if you chose not to go because you mistakenly believed that you “should” be able to cure yourself. Who made the rule that you “should” be able to “take charge of your life” and why is getting therapy “easy?” Many people who have attended therapy describe it as a very difficult process and at times, unpleasant.

Life is short and you need to do what you can to avoid spending another moment suffering with depression. You already know the therapy worked so what are you waiting for? Get help when you need it.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Dec 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). Should I Go Back To Therapy?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/12/08/should-i-go-back-to-therapy/

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