There are many professionals that are trained to treat people suffering from anxiety disorders. Some are more specialized than others, and have more specific training. Others are able to treat a broader range of problems. Some are more easily accessible, due to location and affordability. The key is to find what works best for you in your unique situation. There isn’t one solution for all.
One way to start is with your school counselor or your family doctor. These are individuals that you likely already know and trust. They may be familiar with your situation and your medical history. They would be able to note any significant changes and be aware of any underlying concerns. They are trained to recognize the basic symptoms of mental health disorders and if they are not qualified to offer you treatment, they can often times refer you to someone who can.
A family doctor is able to run blood tests, and complete a physical exam to rule out any additional medical conditions that may be contributing to your mental wellbeing. If your condition is minor, or temporary, they may be able to offer you treatment, such as a prescription for medication.
A psychiatrist is medical doctor who is able to prescribe medication, that specializes in mental health. They are able to do blood tests, and a physical exam and offer treatment as it relates to your mental health. They can be more expensive than other types of mental health professionals and may not offer other forms of treatment that you may wish to try.
Psychologists, therapists and counselors are trained mental health professionals, but not medical doctors. They do not prescribe medication. They offer talk therapy through individual or group sessions. Each professional has their own areas of focus and usually specializes in different types of treatment.
Some factors to consider when selecting a mental health professional are:
- Cost: Different professionals charge different rates. The cost can vary by the education and experience of the professional, and by the type of treatment. For example, group therapy is usually less expensive than individual therapy sessions. The cost of the professional’s time is shared all the group members rather than by just the individual. Online counseling is becoming more and more popular and it is typically much less expensive than in office counseling.
- Convenience: It is important to select a course of treatment that works with your lifestyle. Your success is dependent upon your ability to stay committed to your treatment plan, and show up for your appointments. If your life is very busy, or you live somewhere remote, one option to consider is online therapy. With online therapy you are able to connect with your counselor from your computer or mobile device, rather than having to go into a physical office for your scheduled sessions.
- Comfort: Talking about your emotions and mental health is very personal. If you are not comfortable with your counselor, you will not be as open, and your progress will be limited. It is important to find the right fit for your individual needs. There is more to a great mental health professional that just their credentials, or success rate. Talk to them, ask questions, and make sure they are a good match for you personally. Do you want to speak with someone of your own gender? Does their age, or religious background make a difference to you? What matters is connecting with the right professional that will help you overcome your challenges and find your path to happiness.