So you have been going to your therapist for a few sessions now and you have felt good after your appointments. Suddenly, however, you get home from your most recent appointment and you are feeling worse. You notice you are having an increase of anxiety or depression or just overall discomfort.
“Is therapy making me worse?” You ask yourself
This is completely normal to happen at some point and various points along the therapy journey. Change is uncomfortable. Chances are it is a GOOD thing that you are experiencing a slight increase of symptoms. It means you are moving outside of your comfort zone and the work is happening.
How to cope
- Keep a log of what is going on. Don’t analyze and overthink the situation (I know easier said than done). Just keep a note of how you are feeling and when you have the feelings. Make note of what is more difficult for you to do.
- Engage in self care. I’m sure your therapist and you have worked on self-care and calming techniques. Use those. Guided imagery, mindfulness, progressive muscle relaxation. Or engage in a hobby or activity – go for a walk, take a bath, read a book (whatever works for you).
- Know that it will pass. If this is just a response to discomfort and working in therapy know that the “worse” feeling will pass and know that it means you are changing and doing what you set out to do in therapy.
- Allow yourself to feel. It is important to be mindful of the feelings and not completely run away from them. They are informative to you and your therapist. Allow yourself to sit with the discomfort for a while before jumping into your self care. This will help you increase your tolerance for emotions.
Call your therapist if:
- The symptoms persist or continue to worsen more than 2 or 3 days. You know yourself and your baseline and if you are not falling back into your usual swing of things it would be good to inform your therapist to see what he/she recommends that you do.
- If the above coping is not “working.” If you are feeling your feelings, logging them, engaging in self care and using positive statements of “it will pass” and the symptoms are significant enough, then please call!
- If you call into work because your symptoms are that significant to warrant inability to function. Mental Health Days are good here and there. But if you are calling in because you feel you cannot perform your job because your depression is keeping you in bed or your anxiety is through the roof. Call your therapist immediately.
What is my therapist going to do?
Your therapist will assess the situation by asking you about your symptoms and functioning and determine the best level of intervention. It may be reviewing coping strategies, asking you to call on your supports or scheduling you to be seen again within the same week to work on re-stabilization.
Your therapist is trying to help you facilitate change. So sometimes we push you into your discomfort to illicit a response. With the nature of therapy and mental health something can be triggered that you and your therapist are both unaware of that result in pushing too much and the symptoms increase more than we wanted them to. These things happen and your therapist is trained to help you re-stabilize and put together a plan of action as you continue to move forward in therapy.
DON’T DROP OUT OF THERAPY
Whatever you do PLEASE CALL YOUR THERAPIST. I know you went to therapy to feel better and not worse, but again, it is part of the process. If you drop out of therapy you are leaving with an open wound that could become infected. If you choose that now is not the right time for you the be in therapy, at least meet with your therapist 1 or 2 more times to help you stabilize before ending.
If you have questions regarding this topic/blog entry I encourage you to comment below or send me a message.