'Is It Normal To Feel Bad About Feeling Better?'


Diana Akhmetianova / Unsplash

Diana Akhmetianova / Unsplash

Our Ask a Therapist series gets answers to your questions about mental health from real therapists. Follow @idontmind on Instagram for more and a chance to ask questions of your own.

Today’s therapist is Lynn. She’s a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in California, and has been featured as a guest expert on numerous TV and radio programs. She also built a “rabbitat” in her backyard for rescued bunnies.

Is it normal to feel bad about feeling better?

It’s totally normal to feel uncomfortable whenever you make a change, and that discomfort is confirmation you’re growing! You may have a bit of “survivor guilt”, which means you might still be blaming yourself for feeling bad and haven’t yet given yourself permission to enjoy feeling better. Feeling bad about feeling better might also be related to the fact that we feel safe with what’s familiar, even if it doesn’t feel good, so feeling better is part of an unknown new experience that can be a bit scary at first but will feel and get even better with time.

My mom has depression. Is it possible I’ll have it too?

While there is a genetic component to depression, since you grew up watching your mother’s struggle, you probably have a greater awareness of red flags that signify depressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The good news is that awareness and knowledge is power, so you’re also uniquely equipped to notice any warning signs early and take active steps to avoid and remedy them.

Are you considered suicidal if you would do anything to die but refuse to kill yourself?

Wishing to die is known as passive suicidality or suicidal ideation, whereas thinking about taking action to take your own life is considered active suicidal intent. Although the latter is a more urgent cause for concern, feeling like you belong in either of those categories should be taken seriously.

It’s important to reach out to a professional who can help you feel better as well as stay safe. Your life is too important to risk and if you’re not sure about that, please ask the people who love you to help you remember that you are important to them and belong in the world.

If you’re in crisis or just need someone to talk to, text MHA to 741741 to reach a trained Crisis Counselor or call 1-800-273-8255. If it’s an emergency, please call 911.

What are some ways I can deal with social anxiety?

Some great ways to deal with social anxiety include breathing techniques and simple conversational strategies. Take a couple of deep breaths before entering a social situation and focus on making your exhale longer than your inhale. That will activate a part of your nervous system which helps you relax.

Remember that most people in the room will be feeling the same anxiety, so engage others in a way that makes it a one-to-one or small group conversation instead of a mass of strangers. Then ask two questions, wait for their answers, and offer one piece of info. Like, “How are you doing? How do you know the host? I like the Yankees too.” Keep that up until the conversation takes a natural turn and you’ll not only help yourself relax but will help the other person feel more comfortable, too.

How do I tell a friend I think they need professional help?

What a good friend you must be to be asking that question in the first place!

The answer is simple. Do so gently and lovingly. Use I-statements to let your friend know that you care, you’re concerned, you want them to be healthy and happy, and ask them what you can do to help. You might also want to start by asking if they’re open to hearing what you think. Just focus on the process and not the outcome.

Remind yourself that all you can do is your best to invite the change you’re hoping for them to make, and even if they’re not ready to seek professional help now, your words may come back to them when they’re open to take that step.

Follow @idontmind on Instagram for more Ask a Therapist answers and a chance to ask questions of your own.

Content is for informational purposes only and is not meant to serve as medical advice or to replace consultation with your physician or mental health professional.