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Shouldn’t I Be Better After Years of Therapy?

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From Argentina: I have had symptoms of depression ever since I was 12, after a whole childhood of struggling with behavioral issues and being bullied. I think about suicide everyday, even though I’ve never attempted it. I honestly think I’m useless and have no future ahead of me. There is nothing I feel I’m good at or that I really enjoy. Every day, focusing on my studies seems to require more and more will power.

I’ve recently graduated from college, but I have never had a paying job. I feel unskilled or under qualified for literally any job. I live with my parents and siblings and I have no friends.

I have gone to therapy since I was 14, hoping to grow some self-confidence and to dare begin talking to people again after the trauma of bullying. I haven’t stopped my treatment since then, and it mostly focuses on finding things I like about myself and taking some importance away from the things that make me wish I didn’t exist. But even though I made progress at the beginning, the last 2 years took me back to where I started. And I just can’t talk myself into believing that anything good my therapist says about me actually counts.

This makes me wonder why I’m still depressed after so many years of professional help. Shouldn’t I be better by now? Am I doing something wrong? Could it be that a part of me actually WANTS to stay depressed? Is it me just being an immature attention-seeker who doesn’t want to grow up?

Shouldn’t I Be Better After Years of Therapy?

Answered by on -

A.

Please don’t minimize your experiences. I understand your frustration. I’m sorry you aren’t feeling better than this.

The place to start is with your current therapist. Have you shared your discouragement with her? It may be time for your therapist to change the focus or the method of her treatment. If that doesn’t help, do consider seeking a “second opinion”. It may be that a different approach all together would be helpful.

I don’t think more affirmations from your therapist will help. I do think some cognitive-behavioral therapy to change your own thinking about yourself might be more effective.

In addition, some direct personal work on building up your self-esteem may re-energize your treatment. The secret to gaining more self-esteem is to stop thinking about it and start doing worthwhile things. If you wait until you feel better to start your life, it probably won’t happen. But if you start doing things that matter, the successes will help you feel much better, which will give you more energy to do more.

If you don’t feel ready for a paying job, then by all means find a volunteer position. Doing good work makes people feel good. An added bonus is that it will help you get used to a more structured day and will give you an entry for a resume. Thoughtful volunteering will also help you experiment with different kinds of work. Being appreciated for what you contribute will add to your feelings of self-worth.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Shouldn’t I Be Better After Years of Therapy?

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Shouldn’t I Be Better After Years of Therapy?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 15, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2018/05/27/shouldnt-i-be-better-after-years-of-therapy/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 25 May 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 25 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.