I need therapy. I have depression which has been getting worse. I have even started cutting myself. THE problem is, I’m scared to go. I’m afraid they are going to commit me to an institution and diagnose me as crazy. I know it seems irrational and inaccurate, but I’m still terrified. I cry when I even think about it. I know there is nothing for me to worry about. How do I stop being so scared and get the help that I desperately need?

A. Many people fear the unknown. They make assumptions about what they think is going to happen, often believing that their worst fears will come true. Intellectually, you recognize that your fear of therapy is irrational and inaccurate. Emotionally, the idea of it frightens you.

In the battle between thoughts and emotions, logic and reason must prevail.

Given the information that you provided, there is no reason to believe that you would be committed to an institution. Commitment laws, in every state, are strict. Many individuals who would benefit from inpatient care are refused hospitalization and are forced to go without care because they don’t meet the strict criteria for inpatient hospitalization. Unless you are actually on the verge of harming yourself or someone else, there is very little chance that you would be committed to an institution.

What could you expect if you were to seek mental health treatment? Your first session would involve a therapist collecting an extensive personal psychosocial history. The therapist would also likely provide you with his or her impressions of what he or she thinks may be wrong and then would recommend a plan for treatment. There would be no hospitalization. There would be no diagnosis of “crazy.” Therapy would afford you the opportunity to work with an expert who routinely assists people with the very problems with which you are struggling.

Force yourself to believe in reality. You should not let fear stop you from getting the help that you need and deserve. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice Blog