Dr. Saba Khodayarifard

Psychotherapy in 1140 Wien

It is incredible that so many people feel ashamed of their emotional suffering, their mental disorders and symptoms, that they do not admit it, even to themselves, and that they do not want to have these problems treated and just live with it and suffer for years, whereas a lot of these people would have far less inhibitions and fears regarding physical illness or going to a medical doctor. Expecting to pull oneself together and just snap out of a mental disorder such as depression, is just as strange as the notion of healing your cancer or diabetes by sheer will! To judge someone or oneself, because one is depressed and doesn’t have energy or motivation, or because one has an anxiety disorder and cannot manage to do some of the things that are quite normal, or because one goes to a psychotherapy, is just as absurd as judging  someone with a broken leg, because they can’t run, or making fun of someone with diabetes for regularly needing medication!

The psyche and all its conscious and unconscious manifestations (thoughts, feelings, behaviours and so on) are products of the nervous system, which works in close and complicated interaction with all the other organs in the body. All the psychological symptoms, disorders and problems also originate in the body, especially in the nervous system. Also, the unconscious is a product of the brain and is influenced by different factors (genetics, epigenetics, biology, sleep, nutrition, physical activity, sexuality, substances, traumas and other internal or external factors).

When the mental health suffers, there is also something not working well in the body, because the brain is also just another organ like all the other organs in the body. The factors that lead to mental illness could also be as diverse and complicated as the reasons for a physical illness: from genetic and biological predispositions to environmental factors, habits, traumas, and violence. Just like a bodily illness (cancer, a herniated disc, heart disease) could be in the process of developing for years before the symptoms emerge, a mental disorder may also have deep roots in the past.

Many psychological problems (like depressive symptoms, anxiety, and concentration problems) could occur because of a deficiency (such as Vitamins D or B12 or iron deficiency) or because of unhealthy habits (lack of sufficient sleep or physical activity, unhealthy diet), or even because of emotional or social stressors (abuse, bullying, loneliness etc.). Recognizing the possible reasons of the problems is, therefore, a very important part of the treatment.

When someone experiences an emotion over and over, gradually, the regions of the brain generating this emotion become gradually more prone to activation. For example, if a person experiences anxiety, fear, shame, loss, frustration, and rejection often, especially in the childhood, the brain gets constructed and programmed in a completely different way than when one often feels loved, secure, cared for and happy, when one can express themselves freely and feels appreciated.

Our childhood experiences play a great role in determining how we experience ourselves, others, and life later, how we perceive different situations, and how we react to them. The automatic thoughts, emotions and reactions which form people’s individual patterns, develop throughout the whole life from early childhood. We usually don’t even remember so many things that led to these patterns. They are mostly unconscious, but they shape our perception of everything. Some of these perceptions, meanings and unconscious processes could cause us mental problems.

In psychotherapy, one strives to change these inner patterns by sharing and processing emotions and conflicts without censorship with an accepting nonjudgmental professional, exploring the origin of the emotions and behaviours, and building a new healthier pattern. This could often be a long process and takes a lot of work. Problems that have built up over many years and have complicated and multidimensional reasons, cannot usually be solved properly by a quick fix. But gradually, the feelings and the state of mind change during therapy, one perceives a lot of things in a different way and feels happier, healthier, and freer.

Psychotherapy is in my opinion, a fine method of reprogramming the brain through regular new activation patterns in the context of conversations in a safe professional environment, so the mind becomes healthier, the brain works better, and one can live happier and healthier. I, therefore, pay attention to the body’s health as well, in my psychotherapeutic and psychoanalytic work.

If you want to live your life happier, more satisfied, and more mindful, if you wish to reduce unnecessary anxieties and to fulfill your needs, wishes and dreams in a more productive way, if you want to sit behind the steering wheel of your life and steer yourself, your life, and your relationships better, then psychotherapy can probably help you. Psychotherapy gives you the chance to have a look at yourself and your life and to analyze it, to find out the reasons for the things that keep happening to you, and to go through life with more awareness, insight, and maturity. Many people who regularly go to therapy, feel gradually calmer, maturer, healthier and happier.

Moreover, psychotherapy is not only a treatment for mental disorders, but also a preventive measure of mental health or mental hygiene. When you regularly take time to work through your feelings, reflect about yourself and about what you wish, what bothers you and what would be best to do, problems don’t pile up too long and don’t become physical or mental symptoms and illnesses. Going to psychotherapy could be a good self-care measure.