A wide range of physical and psychological methods are applied to the treatment of mental disorders. Drugs, diet, electroshock, and surgery are the major classes of medical treatment, but exercise, massage and manipulation, and other physical procedures may also be appropriate. Psychological and psychosocial methods of treatment include individual and group counseling and psychotherapy, behavior modification, environmental intervention, occupational therapy, and recreational therapy. The particular treatment methods that are applied depend, of course, on the nature of the disorder, hut the availability of the treatment, the patient's age, mental abilities, personality characteristics, and economic situation also play a role.
Antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs are the most common treatments for psychotic depression and schizophrenia, but electroshock therapy is still employed in some cases. Antianxiety drugs are quite popular foi treating anxiety disorders, and short- and long-term psychotherapies are also used, Individual psychotherapy, behavioral and cognitive therapies, group therapy, and family therapy have all been found to be effective in treating a variety of patients—young and old, nonpsychotic and psychotic, mildly and severely disturbed (Gatz, Popkin, Pino, & VandenBos, 1985). The goals of psychotherapy vary with the presenting symptoms and with other characteristics of the patient. In addition to the relief of symptoms, the goals of psychotherapy may include delaying physical and psychological deterioration; enabling the patient to adapt to his or her current situation: improving the patient's self-help skills and interpersonal relationships; helping the patient become more self-reliant, self-accepting, and active; and providing relief for the patient's family (Wellman & McCormack, 1984).
A combination of physical and psychological methods is often used in treating a particular disorder. The treatment process can, in any case, be quite long and provides no guarantee of success. A typical patient is not "cured" in the sense that the disorder is gone forever. Rather, the patient is helped by the medications and counseling to attain greater control over his or her life and to maintain some semblance of normality. When therapy is successful, the patient has a more positive self-attitude, a more accurate perception of reality, a greater mastery over the environment, and a growth toward self-actualization (Jahoda, 1958).
The community in which people live can also contribute to the therapeutic process. Social supports from one's family, peers, and other people in the community are critical to the healthy psychological functioning of the individual. A therapeutic community provides not only social supports but also readily accessible medical, legal, social, religious, and economic services to outpatients and other residents who have had or are experiencing problems with living.
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