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Prioritizing mental health is essential at any period of your life. Although our struggles can ease with time, as you age, you may find a myriad of new endeavors that cause grief and stress. Additionally, many individuals have pre-existing mental health concerns that, if untreated, can influence other facets of their lives. Online therapy gives people the option to get the treatment they need in the comfort of their own homes. People can choose from a larger pool of professional therapists with varying educational backgrounds, experience, and expertise in diverse specialties. 

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Conditions Online Therapy Treats

Depression

Alternatively known as clinical depression or major depressive disorder, depression is one of the most common mental illnesses that acts like a disease, impacting every facet of daily life such as food consumption, sleep, working, and other daily activities. Depression can be difficult to pinpoint because it is exhibited uniquely depending on the person. There are various types of depression, and those struggling with other illnesses can umbrella into different categories. Different forms of depression include seasonal affective disorder, major depression, dysthymia, and depression with psychosis symptoms. How these variants are caused depends on the individual circumstance and sometimes comes with heavy risks if ignored. 

Panic Disorder

Panic Disorder is an anxiety-driven disorder that causes individuals to react negatively to stressors in both mental and physical ways. Mentally, people with this disorder feel intense fear and uneasiness that sometimes arise unexpectedly and suddenly. Physical symptoms may include heart palpitations, sweating, tremors, shortness of breath, and abdominal discomfort. According to a survey from the National Institute of Mental Health conducted from 2001-2003, a whopping 44.8% of U.S. adults suffer from severe panic disorder. Being a senior, most of the side effects of panic disorder can lead to fatal consequences, especially regarding heart health.  

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Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder is the constant fear involving social interactions and situations. Someone with this disorder has intense anxiety about their social performance and how it resonates with people around them. They are unable to control their fear of being humiliated or embarrassed. Even if their interactions are reasonably straightforward, they’re usually perpetually embarrassed and will overthink every detail of a conversation or interaction. 

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is an umbrella diagnosis for those with excessive anxiety that looms over some, most, or all facets of their lives. People with this disorder have difficulty managing their ongoing fears and worries, often causing them to overthink and self-sabotage. Thoughts that may occur can involve anything from intense anxiety about socializing at a dinner party to overthinking what happens after death. More often than not, these thoughts seep into the way a person with this disorder functions in negative ways. 

Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are things most people have to endure. However, there’s a limit to how much someone should absorb. Some people may find it difficult to alleviate the symptoms of stress or anxiety – failure to do so can result in expanding these stressors into their issues like a cancer. With online therapy, talking these things out and practicing coping skills a therapist may provide can make a world of difference. 

Relationship Issues

Relationship issues can impact anyone, no matter the relationship. Problematic aspects of a relationship can also influence an individual’s mental health. Some online therapists opt to introduce family or relationship counseling, in which the therapist will address you and the others involved in the relationship at once. Although challenging to tackle, utilizing a therapist as a medium in these situations can be extremely helpful. However, if you’d prefer solving your relationship issues without involving other people in your therapy sessions, this is also an option. 

Can You Get Diagnosed by an Online Therapist?

Yes, however, this depends on the therapist’s criteria as a doctor. Some therapists help you through any issues using various forms of therapy, whereas psychiatrists or psychologists can offer both a diagnosis and therapy due to their medical degrees. 

Does Online Therapy Work for Trauma? 

Yes, trauma is a massive catalyst for people to resort to therapy, including online therapy. Like every other mental health condition, it is imperative to research your therapists and check their profiles to see if they’re versed in treating patients with trauma. 

What Are the Disadvantages of Online Counseling? 

One of the most significant disadvantages of online therapy is that it is exclusively online via phone calls, text, or video chat. Some people find it challenging to converse with someone without in-person body language, which can be very difficult or impossible to read over the phone or through a small video window. Some insurance companies will not cover online therapy like they would traditional counseling. Depending on where you live, some states do not allow providers from out-of-state to practice therapy. If you’re in a crisis, it may take longer for a therapist to respond due to the distance. Lastly, diving into interventions or getting a diagnosis may not be very effective or accurate, especially for over-text therapists. 

Is Online Therapy Safe? 

Overall, online therapy is safe. However, even the most reputable companies are at risk of getting hacked or leaked. It’s imperative to keep aware of potential threats to your data like you would anywhere else on the internet.

When Online Therapy Shouldn’t Be Used

Online therapy isn’t for everyone depending on their circumstance. If someone is suffering from suicidal thoughts or self-harm, they should immediately seek assistance from a professional in person due to the high-risk nature of these issues. To reach The National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, simply dial 988. The three-digit dialing code 988 will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This dialing code is available to everyone across the United States as of July 16, 2022.

What Happens After Counseling? 

Typically, therapists will keep their patients aware of the time toward the end of a session to avoid an abrupt stop. Once your therapist informs you that time is up, therapists will often attempt to end the session on a positive note with some proactive reflection, determine a time for the next session, and a simple goodbye. Because online therapy is in your own home, the way you orient after a session is up to you, although taking a deep breath and reflecting on your therapist’s feedback is helpful. Depending on your therapist and the program, you can express feedback or thoughts directly to your therapist. 

Summary

Online therapy is a fantastic option for those wanting treatment from home. Additionally, therapy at home is valuable for those who are physically debilitated or suffering from physical ailments. With the rise of these options, therapists to choose from, and accessibility, the stigma of receiving mental health treatment isn’t at all what it used to be. It’s perfectly normal and even encouraged to talk to someone about ongoing issues in life. Thankfully, people have plenty of therapists to choose from that target any and all mental health issues, prioritizing and treating them with delicate hands. 

Content on this site is for reference and information purposes only. Do not rely solely on this content, as it is not a substitute for advice from a licensed healthcare professional. Aging.com assumes no liability for inaccuracies. Consult with your doctor before beginning any medications or programs.

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