Are you experiencing feelings of anxiety, fear, panic, depression or overwhelm as a result of the lockdown? Here’s how online therapy can help.
Why online therapy?
According to this article, one out of 20 Indians needs psychiatric help but only a minuscule number are likely to find the help they need.
Online therapy benefits people in rural areas who may never have access to the mental help they need, primarily because of the vast distances, superstitions and stigma surrounding mental health issues.
Online therapy may also be the saving grace for those who do not have access to a mental health practitioner or are unwilling to go in person for appointments, especially those at risk of depression and suicide.
Another reason that online therapy will grow in popularity is that it is the best way to do a session with the same doctor when travelling, relocating, or during a lockdown.
How lockdowns can impact your mental health
A lockdown or period of self-isolation can trigger a number of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression in those who already have them.
A pandemic is also the perfect trigger for those with anxiety and depression to give in to their fears. According to this article in TIME Magazine, more doctors are reporting the spread of despair, worry and depression among their patients, especially those already suffering from some form of anxiety disorder.
They’re reporting both new anxieties among existing patients, and relapses among former ones, with clients who are prone to anxiety or depression or OCD experiencing more symptoms. Those who are vulnerable could benefit from online therapy for depression and anxiety at this time.
People with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) might be the most susceptible to the impact of a viral outbreak since the disorder by definition entails anxiety about germs, disease and social interactions.
During a pandemic, the fear of infection is very likely to trigger due to the excessive need for sanitizing everything. In fact, a lockdown is a perfect event to trigger a germophobe’s fears.
It’s that much harder to manage when the world tells you that, guess what, now is the time to feel that fear for real. If you already have OCD, you might want to consider online therapy for OCD to cope with the fear of infection.
People living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are also feeling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic as one more mortal threat like COVID-19 can be more than they can bear. Also, social distancing denies PTSD patients one of their most effective therapeutic strategies: company.
But a period of quarantine or self-isolation can be challenging even for otherwise mentally healthy people and create new mental health problems. It’s at this time that even normal people may benefit from online therapy for anxiety to manage their fears.
Domestic violence is also likely to increase as stress levels go up and families are forced to spend a lot of time together. Many women facing domestic abuse could benefit from online therapy for depression as leaving the home is impossible in a lockdown.
What is online therapy?
Online therapy is any form of counselling or mental health help offered by a qualified mental health practitioner over a digital medium such as a Smartphone or Skype.
Is online therapy a thing? Yes, in fact, the first online therapy provider was Ask Uncle Ezra (1986 -2012) which was the earliest known organized service to provide mental health advice.
Today, thanks to the growing number of Smartphone users, many app-based companies are creating online therapy websites to offer affordable online therapy sessions to those who need them.
Online therapy pros and cons
The main advantages of online therapy are that it is much cheaper and more accessible than in-person therapy as the therapist can avoid the overheads of maintaining an office.
Another advantage of online therapy is the disinhibition effect where people feel more comfortable opening up and discussing problems when they are online.
Is online therapy cheap? The answer is yes. Some online therapy platforms even offer free online therapy 24/7 for vulnerable patients at risk of self-harm. It beats them having to call a free mental health helpline.
How much does an online therapy consultation cost? Whereas a professional psychotherapist may charge thousands of rupees for a 45-minute in-person session, online therapy rates can be as low as a few hundred rupees a session, with many websites offering online therapy for free for the first session.
Is online therapy worth it? Is online therapy legitimate? The answer to that question is not always clear. One disadvantage of online therapy is that many online therapy platforms are not run by qualified professionals.
So when choosing an online therapy and counselling website, read through it carefully to understand how they select their therapists and whether they maintain high standards for client confidentiality and privacy.
Is online therapy safe? Only as long as you don’t have a serious mental illness that may need intensive treatment and medication, which an online therapy consultation cannot provide.
So, how effective is online therapy? Well, if you consider that many who opt for online therapy are the kind of people who would never visit a therapist in person (either because of the stigma, or the high cost of therapy), then online therapy can be a very effective way of delivering mental health services to those who desperately need therapy but lack the willingness or means to seek it.
Unfortunately because of the lack of online therapy guidelines and oversight, the quality of online therapy sessions may vary widely and the security of patients’ personal data is also a concern.
How does online therapy work and can I get therapy online?
How online therapy works is you access an online therapy website or download an app that offers online therapy services. You register on the website or app and start a chat explaining the mental health issue you need help with.
You will usually get a response from one of the online therapists within minutes to hours and can then decide if you want to continue the conversation.
So if the outbreak and lockdown have triggered your fears and you need online therapy for anxiety or online therapy for depression in India, choose only the best online therapy platforms for mental health help.
10 self-care tips to cope during the lockdown
The best way to prevent anxiety and depression when you can’t leave your home is to keep your mind occupied with positive thoughts so that it doesn’t go down the rabbit hole of fear and negativity.
Along with your online therapy sessions, you may also benefit from some of the emotional self-care practices below to manage your stress and anxiety levels.
- Follow a daily routine that you’re familiar with (minus the going out). It will keep your mind occupied and lessen your anxiety levels.
- Take this as a chance to learn something new or even recreate yourself. You could take a creative writing class and write that book you always wanted to write. You can take an online course or a Masterclass to upgrade your skills and keep your mind busy.
- To stave off loneliness and boredom, call your family and friends on the phone or videoconference with them and catch up with their lives. If you’re feeling sad or anxious, voice your concerns with them.
- Download and listen to this Free Stop Anxiety Hypnosis Track. Infused with Subaudible Soundwave Technology, it allows the mind to shift to a lower brainwave state (and a higher state of vibration) more quickly, and easily, than regular meditation audio tracks.
- If you find yourself getting anxious or fearful, avoid watching the news, especially bad news. Instead, give in to your binge-watching cravings and catch up on those Amazon Prime or Netflix shows you’ve been meaning to watch.
- “Physical distancing” does not have to mean “social distancing.” With Sounds True’s new free offering – Resilience in Challenging Times – you can connect with others online for group meditations and Facebook Live meetings so you can gather, learn, and support each other.
- If you’re facing conflict in your home, take a free training course in Nonviolent Communication (NVC), which has been used by therapists, corporations, and anyone wanting to find a way to improve their relationship skills.
- Download the SHEROES App and connect to the SHEROES Helpline, where you can talk about anything personal or professional in your life. Your conversation is 100% confidential and secure.
- Mindfulness and emotional well-being go together. These free mindfulness workshops and courses will help you improve your mindfulness skills with long-term mental health benefits.
- Laughter helps the brain relax. History has shown that its heaviest moments are often leavened by using humour and laughter as conscious choices. So watching funny movies, telling jokes and sharing funny memes are good ways to cope when other things aren’t working as expected.
I hope this article has shown you why you should do online therapy, where to get therapy online and how to get online therapy if you need it.
Stay home, stay safe and stay healthy till the time it’s ok to go out again.
Disclaimer: The information contained on this web site is presented for the purpose of educating people. Nothing contained on this web site should be construed nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Should you have any healthcare-related questions, please call or see your physician or other qualified health care provider promptly. Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before embarking on a new treatment, diet, or fitness program.
Priya Florence Shah is the author of Devi2Diva, an emotional self-care book for women. In the book and online course, you’ll learn how to throw off the shackles of your own limiting beliefs, come into your power and design your destiny.
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