Everyone experiences periods of stress, sadness, grief and conflict, so it can be hard to know if it’s time to see a professional about the problem or issue. Those who would benefit from some therapeutic intervention are not seeking it. One in five adults suffer from some form of mental illness.
Aside from suffering needlessly, those in distress may actually make the problem worse by avoiding professional help.
Mental health professionals attribute this low rate of treatment to the stigma and many myths attached to seeing a therapist. Among them, the concern that only “crazy” people need therapy or that accepting help is a sign of weakness, or that the treatment options will be time-consuming and expensive. This is not true.
“As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way.” – Mary Anne Radmacher
There is still an unjustified stigma around mental illnesses, however the benefits of psychotherapy can be viewed more like stress-relievers, and exercising, eating right and strategies that help make life easier, and help to remove stressors can also be integrated.
Feeling overcome with anger or sadness on a regular basis could indicate an underlying issue, but there’s another intensity to be on the lookout for; catastrophising. When an unforeseen challenge appears, do you immediately assume the worst case scenario will take place? This is an intense form of anxiety which can lead to panic attacks and even cause you to avoid things that are important in your life. If your day to day routine gets more constricted because you’re avoiding things, it is probably time to see someone.
The pain of a death in the family, a breakup or job loss can be enough to require some counselling. We tend to think these feelings are going to go away without support, and this isn’t always the case.
Grief from a loss can impair daily functioning and even cause you to withdraw from friends. If you find you aren’t engaging in your life or those around you have noticed that you’re pulling away, you may want to speak to someone to unpack how the event still affects you. On the other hand, some people respond to loss with a more manic reaction — hyper-engagement with friends and acquaintances or an inability to sleep. These are also signs that it is time for professional help.
If we are emotionally upset, it can affect our bodies. Research confirms that stress can manifest itself in the form of a wide range of physical ailments, from a chronically upset stomach to headaches, frequent colds or even a diminished sex drive.
If you find yourself drinking or using drugs in greater quantities or more often, or even more often thinking about drinking or drugs, these could be signs that you’re hoping to numb feelings that should be addressed.
That substance could even be food. Changes in appetite can be another sign that all is not well. Both over-eating or not wanting to eat could be signs that you are dealing with stress or struggling with the desire to take care of yourself.
Changes in work performance are common among those struggling with emotional or psychological issues. You might feel disconnected from your job, even if it used to make you happy. Aside from changes in concentration and attention, you might get negative feedback from managers or co-workers that the quality of your work is slipping. This could be a sign that it’s time to talk to a professional. Adults spend most of their time at work, so people who notice are those who have to compensate, just like in families.
If your clubs, friend meet-ups and family gatherings have lost their previous joyfulness, it can be a sign that something is amiss. If you’re disillusioned, feeling like there’s not a lot of purpose or a point or feeling a general sense of unhappiness, seeing a therapist could help you regain some clarity or start in a new direction.
Have trouble communicating how you really feel or even being able to identify it in the moment? If you find yourself feeling unhappy during interactions with loved ones on a regular basis, you might make a good candidate for therapy.
We can help empower people to make better choices in how they phrase things and we can teach people that it isn’t just about what you say, but about your body language and overall attitude.
Sometimes friends can notice patterns that are hard to see from the inside, so it’s worth considering the perspectives of those around you.
If anybody in your life has said something to you along the lines of: ‘Are you talking to anybody about this?’ or ‘Are you doing okay? I’m concerned about you’ — that’s a sign that you should probably take their advice.