Those who want to help people live their best lives possible may find purpose in working as a mental health counselor. Mental health professionals use different methods treat a variety of mental health conditions that many people face.
To treat these conditions, counselors need to be aware of the best types of treatment and how the treatment approaches often differ between conditions. As they pursue the education needed to work as a mental health counselor, they will learn about the different mental health conditions and how to approach each condition to try to render the best treatment outcomes possible.
Bipolar disorder is known to cause a person to experience extreme mood swings, which range from feelings of euphoria to severe depression. Once referred to as manic depression, bipolar disorder often interferes with many areas of life, which may include work, school, and personal relationships.
Although bipolar disorder is usually characterized as a chronic, lifelong mental health condition, treatment options are available to reduce some of the condition’s effects. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, and other medications are often used to treat some of the effects of bipolar disorder, but one might not be allowed to prescribe them as a mental health counselor if they do not have the necessary credentials.
They can still offer help to people who struggle with bipolar disorder by offering cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a form of psychotherapy that is intended to instill healthier thoughts and behaviors. Other forms of psychotherapy, along with family counseling, can also help people better manage their bipolar disorder.
Everyone struggles with sadness at least some of the time, but certain individuals experience depression on a regular basis. Clinical depression, which is also referred to as major depressive disorder (MDD), is characterized by severe depressive episodes that often last for a few weeks to several months or more at a time.
Clinical depression is an umbrella term that encompasses different forms of depression, such as psychotic or postpartum depression. Clinical depression is also seen among people who experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which usually occurs during the winter months when exposure to sunlight is generally limited. The depressive episodes of bipolar disorder may also be classified as clinical depression.
Mental health counselors can help people with clinical depression by offering CBT. Interpersonal therapy, which aims to improve interpersonal relationships and social functioning, along with other forms of psychotherapy, can also help people with clinical depression get to the root causes of their feelings to lessen the effects of the condition.
Since there are different forms of clinical depression, counselors need the right training so that they can address each specific condition in the best manner possible. American International College offers a mental health counseling degree online program that covers many mental health topics to prepare them to work in this field.
Feeling anxious from time to time is natural, but an anxiety disorder can cause a person to feel nervous and distressed on a regular basis. In addition to mental distress, people who suffer from an anxiety disorder may experience physical symptoms, such as heart palpitations, nausea, and insomnia.
There are several different mental health conditions that are considered to be anxiety disorders, and treatment methods may vary depending on the specific type of anxiety that is diagnosed and the severity of the associated symptoms. Common anxiety disorders include:
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Social anxiety
- Panic disorder
- Specific phobias
- Separation anxiety disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
CBT often works well for treating anxiety disorders from a counseling standpoint, but acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) can also yield promising results as anxiety sufferers learn mindfulness and goal-setting strategies to try to achieve a better mindset. Counselors can also teach stress-management techniques, such as meditation, music therapy, and breathing exercises, to try to alleviate anxiety symptoms.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Traumatic life experiences can often lead to PTSD and cause sufferers to relive the experiences in their minds continuously. People with PTSD often experience severe panic, sadness, and other negative feelings that can make living a normal, healthy life impossible.
PTSD is often associated with veterans who have fought in combat zones, but the condition can affect people who have experienced other traumatic episodes in life. Violent crimes, natural disasters, and major car accidents can also cause some people to develop this condition.
Counselors can use the counseling skills that they attain from an online education program to help people with PTSD learn better coping strategies to diminish some of the effects of their adverse thoughts and feelings. Specific PTSD treatments include CBT and a safe exposure therapy known as prolonged exposure (PE).
Counselors may want to include eating disorder treatment in their mental health counseling practice to help people who have unhealthy relationships with food. Eating disorders often arise from traumatic life events as well as body dysmorphia issues that cause people to fixate on perceived flaws that they see in their bodies.
There are several types of eating disorders, but among the most common are anorexia nervosa, which causes people to eat too little, and bulimia, which is associated with overeating and purging. A person who regularly consumes items that are not considered to be edible may suffer from an eating disorder known as pica.
CBT is often a preferred form of mental health therapy for people who struggle with an eating disorder, but family-based therapy can also work well for certain individuals. Since eating disorders can greatly affect physical and mental health, medical intervention is often needed as part of the treatment plan.
A valuable service
Mental health counselors can provide a valuable service that benefits people’s lives in many ways. Counselors can play an important role in helping people overcome their mental health challenges with the counseling service that they provide.