Historically, mental illness was viewed as a punishment from God or some kind of weakness. This was very easy to believe since some of the symptoms of depression involve feelings of guilt and a sense of worthlessness. This would often blend in with depression induced cognitive distortions and become part of a core negative belief about oneself.
With advances in psychiatric treatment and medication treatment we now look at a mental heath disorder as a medical illness, similar to diabetes or high blood pressure. These disorders also have a genetic component to them; they are chronic in nature and tend to get better or worse depending on the treatment and patient compliance. We understand that the brain is an organ and can have illnesses which are separate from the person’s true identity. The ability of patients with depression or an anxiety disorder to stop being depressed or anxious is the same as the ability of patients to stop being diabetic or hypertensive. That is, without the right treatment, the chances are very slim that the disorder will spontaneously get better on its own.
As in diabetes and hypertension the treatment can require medications and a change in the life style. The good news is that we now have more medications available for treatment of various psychiatric disorders with fewer side effects than the previous generations of medications. Also, most psychiatric medications are not addictive. They help to improve the function of certain brain circuits that are involved in the processing of our feelings.
The physicians at the Recovery Road Program are also aware of the need to be very careful about using addictive medications in patients who are in recovery from addiction. It is also important to recognize that people who are in recovery from depression and anxiety usually also require a change in the way that the individual processes feeling information. This can require a training program such as that which is provided through the Recovery Road Program