I will admit that I am a hypochondriac. The slightest suspicion has me out the door and in line at the walk-in clinic. Unfortunately, this often leaves me feeling frustrated because seeing your family doctor or visiting a walk-in clinic doesn’t always give you the answers you’re looking for. If something doesn’t feel right, it is worth getting it checked out by a medical professional, but depending on what your problem is, doctors might not always have solutions. If you are suffering from a disorder with no physical manifestations — such as mental health concerns — a clinic or family doctor may send you away without resolving the problem.
While many sufferers of mental illness benefit greatly from medication prescribed by their doctors, it is not always necessary or as helpful as one might imagine. Two cases that come to mind in which non-medicinal alternatives can help are situational anxiety and seasonal affective disorder, both very common ailments. Both can vary in symptoms from person to person. Since doctors diagnose based on evidence presented to them, it’s going to be difficult in cases like these for them to be entirely sure of their analyses. Only you have a complete picture of how you are feeling, and while medication may be necessary in some cases, you might find that you simply need a bit of mediation, exercise, and a healthy diet. These are a few options that could help lift your spirits, if not addressing the root cause of your problem. Non-medical treatments also don’t have the side effects that medication can. One option is counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy.
I am by no means saying that doctors should be avoided. They should be consulted, however, it’s important to not rely completely on the medical system when you don’t have to.
CBT works by examining negative thinking in order to change your outlook and responses. The purpose of this type of psychotherapy is to minimize overall distress levels and self-defeating behaviour. Considering the amount of stress we students face daily, therapy is one solution to a wide range of mental health problems that is more sustainable than taking unnecessary prescription drugs.
I am by no means saying that doctors should be avoided. They should definitely be consulted. However, it’s important to not rely completely on the medical system when you don’t have to. We all know how difficult it can be to get an early appointment let alone a same-day one. Wait times can be long, especially when you need to follow up with a specialist. Therefore, one of the best things you can do for yourself if you are struggling is closely examine your own situation. Write everything down. Document your moods during the day, what you’re eating, when you’re going to bed, and anything about your health that seems out of the ordinary. Start looking for trends so that when you do see your doctor you can deliver as full a picture as possible. Sometimes you might feel like things are hopeless and that you have no control over the way you feel, but in many cases, you do have at least some agency. Sure, these tips and tricks may not completely solve the problem, but they can’t hurt. Ultimately, doctors are here to help, but they aren’t all-knowing deities. They want patients to feel better, but they are only human. If there is a problem that we may be able to help fix, we should explore all other avenues available to us.