The Dose is a reader-supported publication. To support my work and receive exclusive content, consider becoming a paid subscriber.
Stressed? Burned out? Lonely? Dealing with a breakup? Conflict with a co-worker? Feeling down? The blanket recommendation for anyone going through a rough patch these days is to seek professional help, and many struggling Americans are doing just that.
Demand for mental-health services is skyrocketing, and the wait lists for therapists are long. Employers, schools and the Biden administration are taking various steps to increase access to mental-health services.
To be clear, I am a fan of therapy, and as a practicing psychiatrist for almost 20 years, I have witnessed many patients improve in treatment. However, the therapy-is-the-answer model is problematic for several reasons.
This line of thinking fails to recognize the growth that often accompanies challenging experiences. New research from the Youth Development Institute at the University of Georgia found that low to moderate levels of stress can help individuals develop resilience and reduce the risk of developing mental-health disorders such as depression and antisocial behaviors. According to the authors, stressful situations and environments prompt individuals to be resourceful and cognitively flexible, and as a result learn strategies and skills that help them overcome adversity and thrive.