Everyone's life is filled with ups and downs and daily stresses, many of which can be managed on one's own. Life crises, however, are those events and circumstances which are stressful or traumatic enough to interfere with a patient's normal functioning, and which may potentially lead to greater problems such as substance abuse or suicidal thoughts or attempts. Even with healthy coping skills, some life crises - such as loss, grief or abuse - may simply be too much for an otherwise healthy person to handle, requiring the assistance of a professional to work through them.
While life crises may be easily identifiable (the death of a loved one, job loss, divorce), the right way to work through them may not be. Without knowing how to properly grieve a loss or practice healthy stress-management and anti-anxiety techniques can cause some people to "self-medicate" with drugs, alcohol or other dangerous behaviors, or develop other conditions such as major depression. The risk of these reactions is highest among those with existing conditions such as depression, dysthymia or anxiety disorders, which are often exacerbated by times of extreme stress.
Therapy for a life crisis is focused upon helping the patient work through the event and associated emotions while also teaching healthier responses to the stressor. With proper psychiatric treatment, a person who needs guidance through a life crisis can benefit twofold: first, he or she will be helped in the immediate situation, and second, he or she will learn valuable coping techniques to implement in any future crises that may arise.