Our understanding of mental health concerns has evolved from looking at such problems as being merely overreactions to temporary stimuli, to recognizing that they are serious issues that require treatment and attention. The stigma that comes from acknowledging a mental health problem has largely been negated by the overwhelming scientific research that has been done, the extreme prevalence of people suffering from any given condition, and the help available to those who are afflicted. Here are five problems mental health counseling can solve.

1. Depression

Historically, depression was considered purely a mental state of unhappiness, but today it’s recognized as a combination of psychological, social and biological factors. A mental health counselor will work with their patient to examine how all relevant areas are affecting their well-being, a process known as psychotherapy. The psychotherapy covers a number of different therapies, where the patient is coached through various approaches to deal with the psychological elements of their depression.

2. Anxiety

Everyone feels anxious at the worst of times, but sufferers of chronic anxiety or anxiety attacks are particularly vulnerable to feeling overwhelmed and overpowered by their anxiety, to the point where they are paralyzed, unable to function, or react counterproductively to the situation. Mental health counselors will start treatment with cognitive behavior therapy, which examines thought patterns that impair appropriate responses to stressful situations. From there, the counselor will move on to other therapies, such as self-talk and restructuring thought.

3. Substance Abuse

Kicking a drug habit can be one of the hardest processes imaginable, but that’s where mental health counselors come in. There is no “cure” for a substance addiction, only a series of treatments that can control the effects and cravings of the drugs. Mental health counselors will work with addicts to analyze their thought processes behind the need to use drugs, training them to take ownership of their feelings, and not letting enablers and their addiction take over. Counselors will also work on communication and family therapy to help a user bring their addiction under control.

4. Bipolar Disorder

People suffering from bipolar disorder have no control over their volatile and drastic mood swings. Mental health counselors can talk with bipolar patients to, as with other conditions, identify thoughts and feelings – in this case, those that lead to an unpredictable mood swing. Patients will be able to anticipate changes in their behavior before they happen, and deflect thoughts away from depressing or negative moods.

5. Sexual Dysfunction

Problems with sex are usually embarrassing for people or couples to discuss, but mental health counselors can help with sexual dysfunction. With this problem, counselors often start with a goal in mind – addressing a psychologically-based impediment to sexual enjoyment, communication during sex, etc. – and then work with patients to move towards that goal.