Michael Jackson must have been under tremendous emotional stress in recent years. He went through a difficult trial. He had a strained relationship with his father. Additionally, being in the spotlight 24/7 can put tension on your emotional state.

News reports imply that Michael may have had some chronic sleep problems. This would not be surprising, given his role of being one of the most famous entertainers in the world. It might be reasonable to expect that his earlier trial gave him some anxiety, as well. That could have also led to some depression. But the world always expected him to "put on a happy face" What a strain that must have been. Strain of any kind can lead to distress. Distress can be followed by difficulty with sleep, mood and ability to cope with life. There are many ways to deal with strain and cope with problems.

Therapy can help any of these issues. However, Michael allegedly had powerful drugs in his house that could be used to alleviate difficulties with sleep or anxiety. Did any of his doctors recommend an evaluation, therapy or appropriate medications instead of dangerous drugs? We may never know. It looks like his family may have tried to talk to him. What can we learn from this and other similar tragedies, such as Elvis Presley and Anna Nicole Smith?

We live in a fast paced world. We want quick fixes for difficult problems. Got a headache? Take an aspirin. Can't sleep? Take a sleeping pill. Nervous? Take a Xanax. In reality, maybe therapy, stress management or exercise would be a better solution for all of us.

Many people are so afraid to be labeled as emotionally unstable, temporarily over the edge, or beyond their ability to cope, that it is difficult for them to ask for help. They would rather take a pill. After all, everybody takes pills. There's no shame in that. Therapy is hard work, embarrassing, time consuming and sometimes painful. There's no time, money, or patience for therapy. (What was I thinking?)

We need to find ways to make it OK to seek help from a therapist, psychologist, counselor, or social worker. "While a Quick Fix Pill may suit us in the immediacy of the moment, the long-term fixes (therapy, relaxation exercises, anger management classes, or parenting classes) may serve us best for a lifetime.

Kathryn Seifert, Ph.D.
Sailsbury, MD

Author's Bio: 

Kathryn Seifert received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, Baltimore Campus in 1995. She has had over 30 years experience in mental health, addictions, and criminal justice work. Dr. Seifert has authored articles and lectured nationally and internationally on family violence and trauma. She founded Eastern Shore Psychological Services, a multidisciplinary private practice that specializes in working with high-risk youth and their families. She lectures nationally and internationally on the topics of violence, risk assessment, suicide prevention, and stress management. She advocates for the highest quality services for all children needing mental health treatment and she is the President of the Maryland Psychological Association where she can advocate for excellent mental health and substance abuse services.

Her latest book is “How Children Become Violent: Keeping Your Kids Out of Gangs, Terrorist Organizations, and Cults.” In her book, she describes her theory of risk and resiliency factors interacting with childhood development, which ultimately lead to appropriate or inappropriate interpersonal behaviors. She outlines assessment, prevention and assessment strategies to prevent future violence. Her latest assessment is the “CARE-2, Chronic Violent Behavior Risk and Needs Assessment.” You may visit her website at http://drkathyseifert.com. Dr. Seifert’s Self-help CD’s can be found at discoverthewiseoldwoman.com

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