How do I know if I need therapy?

Mental health concerns are common; they affect individuals from all walks of life, at all income levels, and at all ages. Some individuals experience difficulties after disruptive life events (e.g., relationship breakdown, job layoff or business failure, accident or serious illness, the death of a loved one, traumatic experiences, and so on) or prolonged life stressors. Other people struggle seemingly more or less life-long with feelings of depression, anxiety, or diminished self-esteem.

Services provided by mental health professionals are an integral part of person’s complete health care. In my opinion, the decision to seek help to prevent or overcome psychological or emotional difficulties is a sign of personal courage, inner strength, and wish and striving for optimal overall health.

All kinds of problematic feelings and personal difficulties can be good reasons to go to therapy. Whatever your situation, you have probably tried to correct or overcome it many times and have not been able. This, in and of itself, may be adding to your emotional suffering from a sense of futility and self-blame. When the feelings or thoughts you have cannot be understood and used productively as signals or good information for you, but instead lead you into unhealthy behaviour patterns, or even inaction or inept action, then seeking therapy makes sense.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms or signs listed below, and they are severe and/or chronic enough to interfere with your ability to function well, then it may be time to seek help from a professional:

  • feelings of depression, helplessness, hopelessness
  • anxiety, fears, excessive worrying, or things seeming out of control
  • decreased energy, enthusiasm, or pleasure around things that used to be satisfying
  • pain that is hard to tolerate
  • poor self-esteem
  • trouble concentrating or making decisions
  • disturbing or upsetting memories
  • emotional “numbness” or diminished contact with friends or family members
  • suicidal thoughts
  • excessive self-blame or guilt
  • changes in sleep patterns (insomnia or sleeping too much)
  • crying easily and more often
  • decreased tolerance for stresses that were formerly managed reasonably well
  • excessive or chronic anger or irritability directed towards others
  • co-workers or loved ones telling you that your personality seems to have “changed”
  • drug or alcohol problems
  • increased or repeated arguments with family members
  • relationship problems
  • problems at work

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