Psychological intervention can help ease life’s transitions–everything from positive events like marriage, a new baby, or career advancement to more dire situations such as divorce, chronic illness, injury, or the death of a loved one.
What are Transitions?
Transitions are changes that we experience when we move from one phase to another phase of life. Although life transitions are a normal part of life, people often struggle to adjust to change and may find these periods of life very stressful and perhaps distressing. For some individuals, the stress of change can be enough to cause mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Transitions may be unexpected or expected, unwelcomed or welcomed, imposed or chosen, gradual or sudden. However, it is our natural tendency to resist change in our lives as transitions are often difficult adjustments to make as we often go through feelings of fear and uncertainty. We may feel disillusioned, angry, or overwhelmed as transitions pose challenges that take us away from our comfort zone or familiar grounds.
Types of Life Transitions
Some of the common types of life transitions that may pose serious transitional challenges in life include:
- Starting and finishing school
- Joining or leaving university
- New job or adjustment to the workplace
- Loss of a job
- Becoming a parent
- Divorce or break-ups
- Family crisis/mid-life crisis
- Financial problems
- Death of a loved one
- Serious illness or disability
- Faith or spirituality
Signs and Symptoms Associated with Transitions
Although stress and anxiety impact everyone differently, people who find it difficult to cope with transitions in life may experience mental health symptoms such as:
- Feeling of overwhelmed
- Social isolation
- Difficulty sleeping
- Low energy
- Substance abuse
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Low sex drive
- Issues with appetite
Treatment for Life Transitions
Several types of therapy can be employed as an effective treatment for people experiencing significant transitions or adverse events in life. These include:
- Talk therapy: This is a type of psychological treatment for mental and emotional problems associated with transitions such as stress, anxiety, and depression. In talk therapy, your psychologist will forge a path forward to effectively manage and resolve your symptoms that are interfering with your daily activities.
- Group Therapy: Group therapy is a psychological therapy that involves one or more trained psychologists (therapists) working with several people at the same time. The people in the group usually have similar transitional concerns and meet regularly to interact with each other.
- Family Therapy/Couple Therapy: Family therapy is another type of psychotherapy in which your therapist works with families and couples in intimate relationships to foster change and development in people going through transitions in order to help manage transitions positively.
- Cognitive-Behavior Therapy: This is a type of psychotherapeutic treatment that helps you to recognize and change disturbing or destructive thought patterns that have a negative influence on your behavior and emotions. It also assists you to improve your coping skills in relation to transitional challenges.
Preventive Measures for Life Transitions
If stress and anxiety involved with a life transition is impacting your daily life, certain preventive measures may be helpful in managing and preventing mental health problems associated with the transition. These include:
- Seeking professional help: Whether you are entering a new phase of life or struggling with a mental health crisis, working with a social worker or mental health provider can assist you to navigate tough transitions of life with proven tools and techniques.
- Reaching out for social support: Family members and friends can create a supportive and conducive environment to nurture positive behaviors and assist you to navigate change.
- Lifestyle changes: Focusing on your health can make it easier to manage life transitions. Maintaining good sleep patterns, engaging in your favorite activities, exercising regularly, refraining from substance abuse, and eating a balanced diet can help improve your mental health and ease transitions.
- Researching on the upcoming change: Stress and anxiety most often develop due to fear of the unknown. If you are stressed or anxious about a significant change, such as a new job, marriage or relationship, or relocating to a new city, researching on your life transition can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.