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- 07 May 2020

Achieving Healing: Yes, It's Possible!

The search for recovery is a common desire among those coping with a mental disorder. However, the treatment process goes beyond simply eliminating symptoms, and healing is made possible through a holistic approach to mental health.

Find out more in this article!

A new perspective: healing as an opportunity

When confronting a disease, often our deepest desire is to be back to life as before. Illness can leave deep and painful scars that we would like to erase with a simple act. Certainly curing ourselves and overcoming the acute phase of the disease is the first goal, but it is crucial to understand that this is not enough and is not the end of the treatment journey.

However, returning to life as before can also mean falling back into the same condition of fragility that triggered the onset of symptoms. Following the indications of the World Health Organisation (WHO), we are invited to consider the critical phase of any disorder as an opportunity for personal growth: it is the time when we have the chance to learn more about the pitfalls of the disease, reduce its negative effects and build a new kind of self-awareness.

Thanks to the cooperation with good professionals, it then becomes possible to create a new balance and a new lifestyle that can protect us from potential relapses as far as possible.

Achieving Healing

Is it possible to heal from a mental disorder?

Yes, for a significant percentage of patients, healing is possible! That's why the WHO itself defines healing as the true goal of treatment.

However, it's crucial to understand and keep in mind that achieving healing DOES NOT simply mean resolving the acute phase of the crisis and quitting therapies or medications. Healing represents a process of change aimed at improving one's personal well-being and embarking on a new life characterized by a different balance than before.

How to achieve healing?

First and foremost, it's essential to define what we mean by "healing." According to the American Psychiatric Association:

«Healing from psychiatric disorders is a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live selfdirected life, and strive to reach their full potential.»

Healing, therefore, DOES NOT mean discontinuing medication, ceasing psychotherapy, or abandoning Neuromodulation Therapies. Healing is NOT a destination but rather a targeted process of change aimed at improving one's well-being.

Unfortunately, many misunderstand this concept, considering the main goal to stop taking medication or discontinue therapies as early as possible, even during the early acute phases of the disorder. In some cases, individuals may even come to specialists with the illusion that a single medical visit can resolve everything. However, reality differs, and healing from a psychiatric disorder requires a different approach.

The disappearance of symptoms doesn't equate to healing

Effective therapies not only alleviate symptoms but are also capable of restoring the proper functioning of compromised brain circuits that underlie the disorder. For this reason, even after the eventual reduction or disappearance of symptoms, it's crucial to continue therapy to maintain what has been restored.

The brain is a plastic organ, and Pharmacological Therapy or Neuromodulation Therapies can help it make full use of its flexibility. However, for this to happen, it's essential to persist with therapy and adapt it according to the individual's circumstances and environment. Only through an appropriate and consistently monitored therapy is it possible to increase the likelihood that symptoms will not return.

Furthermore, each therapy — both pharmacological and based on neuromodulation — may require sequential adjustments, have different goals, or even involve different diagnoses during the course of treatment. For example, a patient may initially present with severe depression, which becomes the primary focus at the beginning of treatment. Subsequently, underlying anxiety disorders or obsessive concerns that contributed to the onset of depression may surface, necessitating an adaptation of the treatment. As anxiety and depressive symptoms are alleviated, attention and concentration problems that affected self-esteem may emerge. In this way, the therapy can adapt its focus while simultaneously improving the individual's stress response and resilience.

Healing is a process of personal transformation

Healing isn't an external miracle but a process of change in which all the positive personal resources at one's disposal must be steadily activated, progressively becoming more aware of them.

Therefore, illness can become an opportunity to become experts in our own well-being, allowing us to actively engage in modifying our behavior in the most vulnerable areas.

This ongoing commitment must integrate into the creation of a new lifestyle, which may also involve maintaining necessary treatments. Working consciously towards one's well-being represents the best defense against the feared relapses.

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