1) Psychotherapy means lying down on a couch. Answer: T & F! Usually therapists do not require their patients to lie down on a couch. We often have comfy couches in our offices but I think it’s fair to say they are there for us therapists to take naps on in the middle of a long day! 🙂 On the other hand, there are therapists who offer their patients the option of reclining, to enhance comfort and trust in the process. Still others practice a particular kind of psychoanalytic psychotherapy for which non-face to face communication encourages the sub-conscious to speak up, helpful to the analytic process. But in general, the lying down on the couch thing is more often seen in New Yorker cartoons than in real life.
2) In therapy, all the therapist says is, “How did that make you feel?” Answer: F If this is really all your therapist is saying, be direct with them and let them know you need more from him/her, or consider finding a better therapist.
3) Psychotherapy takes years to be effective. Answer: T & F In the old days, psychotherapy meant a commitment of five sessions a week for up to twenty years (Woody Allen is famous for talking about the length of his analysis.) We’ve learned a thing or two in the last seventy-five years. Today we have effective solution-focused treatments, cognitive behavioral techniques and empowerment exercises that encourage a shorter term treatment. On the other hand, there are times, for many reasons, we need a longer term supportive treatment and there’s nothing wrong with that as long as both the therapist and the patient are working toward independent resilience and not encouraging dependence on the therapist or the process.
4) All you need is medication to treat depression. Answer: F Study after study demonstrates that the most effective treatment for many types of mental health issues is a combination of a good talking therapy with the right medication prescribed by a psychiatrist. For mild to moderate issues the talking therapy alone is all the is needed.
5) Depression/anxiety means a person is just weak. Answer: F Depression or anxiety can strike anyone, at any time — whether you’re “weak” or strong, it knows no bounds. Some of the strongest people I’ve ever met are people who’ve coped with depression or anxiety at some point in their lives.
6) Depression/anxiety only effects old people, losers or women. Answer: F While more women than men are diagnosed with depression, men suffer from it all the more since many people in society believe that men shouldn’t show signs of weakness (even a man’s own upbringing may reinforce such messages). Depression is not a normal part of the aging process. In fact, teenagers and young adults grapple with depression just as much as seniors do. Successful people have also had to deal with depression, people such as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, George Patton, Sir Isaac Newton, Stephen Hawking, Charles Darwin, J.P. Morgan and Michelangelo. Being a loser is not a prerequisite to being depressed.
7) All mental health issues boil down to low self-esteem. Answer: F Research shows that low self esteem isn’t strongly associated with poor mental health. In a comprehensive review, Roy Baumeister and his colleagues canvassed over 15,000 studies linking self-esteem to just about every conceivable psychological variable. They found that self-esteem is minimally related to interpersonal success, and not consistently related to alcohol or drug abuse. Moreover, they discovered that although self-esteem is positively associated with school performance, better school performance appears to contribute to high self-esteem rather than the other way around. Perhaps most surprising of all, they found that “low self-esteem is neither necessary nor sufficient for depression.” In my experience, low self-esteem is more likely to be the result of mental health, situational and relationship stress than the cause.
8) The best way to manage anger is to express it, don’t hold back. Answer: F More than 40 years of research reveals that expressing anger directly toward another person or indirectly toward an object actually turns up the heat on aggression. In an early study, people who pounded nails after someone insulted them were more critical of that person. Moreover, playing aggressive sports like football results in increases in aggression, and playing violent videogames like Manhunt, in which participants rate bloody assassinations on a 5-point scale, is associated with heightened aggression. Research suggests that expressing anger is helpful only when it’s accompanied by constructive problem-solving designed to address the source of the anger.
9) All mental health problems are biologically/medically based. Answer: F While emotional issues, such as depression, has neurobiological components, it is no more of a pure medical disease than ADHD or any other mental disorder. Treatment of depression that focuses solely on its medical or physical components — e.g., through medications alone — often results in failure.
10) People tend to go crazy when the moon is full. Answer: F In 1985, two psychologists reviewed all available research evidence on the lunar effect, and found no evidence that the full moon is related to much of anything — crimes, suicides, psychiatric problems, psychiatric hospital admissions, or calls to crisis centers. Later investigators examined whether the full moon is linked to suicides, psychiatric hospital admissions, dog bites, or emergency room visits, and came up empty-handed.
We hope you had fun with the quiz and if you learned something too, that’s a bonus! Good health!