Reviewed by Angela Sheddan, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Maybe you have a high fever. Maybe it’s a sore throat. Whatever it is, when your physical health is compromised, knowing when to see a healthcare professional is often a no-brainer.
But what about your mental health? Ignoring an issue can have devastating results, but knowing when you need therapy is not always easy. After all, it’s normal to go through stressful times in life, and it’s normal not to feel happy all the time.
It’s largely believed that putting feelings into words can help manage negative emotional experiences. With that in mind, sometimes just talking to a trusted friend or family member is all it takes to get over a slump.
But there are other times when getting to the light at the end of the tunnel feels like an impossible journey, and only a mental health professional can help you find your way.
So how do you know if you need therapy or if you’re just going through something that you can overcome on your own? Talking to your healthcare provider is always a good start, but being aware of these signs will help:
While worrying may be an effective short-term response to a problem, if you find yourself thinking about the problem so often that it’s hard to concentrate on daily tasks — even when there may be little or no reason to worry — may mean that therapy would be a good option for you.
A therapist trained in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can teach different ways of thinking, behaving and reacting to situations to help you feel less worried.
Depending on your diagnosis, antidepressants may also help.
Extreme shame or embarrassment can be so paralyzing that it negatively affects everyday life — causing you to feel unworthy, depressed, anxious or even suicidal.
A trained therapist will know the best treatments and techniques and can work with you to help you understand your mental state.
Whether you feel depressed, anxious or angry, or are going through something like a divorce, the loss of a loved one or a chronic illness, there are many obstacles and feelings that may negatively affect your quality of life.
If you don’t find joy in the things you used to like to do, are staying away from friends and family, or are not motivated to do much, you may be experiencing social withdrawal.
Do you find yourself adjusting your patterns and behaviors so much so that you’re unable to function as you normally would?
If everything you do is either centered around an issue, or centered around avoiding it, and you cannot control the thought patterns, then you may be dealing with an obsession.
A trained therapist can provide you with a treatment plan so that you can manage your symptoms, engage in day-to-day activities, and lead a full, healthy life.
If you used to sleep well, but find that you are now lying awake at night, or just want to curl up and go to sleep during the day, do not ignore these issues.
Sleep problems can have a major impact on your life, and are a risk factor for suicide.
In fact, there are strong ties between sleep and mental health issues like depression.
Therapy can help you develop better sleep habits, as well as help you understand the underlying issues that may be causing the changes in your sleeping patterns.
Feeling sad every now and then is normal, but if you feel hopeless, this is a clinical sign of depression — or indicative of another mental health disorder — and should not be ignored.
While depression is relatively common, it can also be serious. It can interfere with your ability to eat, sleep and have a normal, happy life.
Whether you have a quick, hot temper, or are constantly quietly seething, if you are unable to control your anger, it can be dysfunctional and may cause long-term consequences.
Not only does anger negatively affect your relationships with friends, family and coworkers, it may also affect your health.
Additionally, anger may be a sign of depression, post-traumatic stress, or alcohol/addiction problems.
A trained mental health professional with experience treating anger can help you figure out where the anger comes from, work with you so you can resolve conflicts in a more constructive manner, and help you rebuild broken relationships.
If you’re thinking, “Hmmm, I can relate to some of this!” You may be wondering what to do next.
Knowing when to see a professional for your mental health issues is not always easy. But being aware of these telling signs can help you find proper mental health treatment. If you’re still unsure whether therapy is the right direction for you, talk to your healthcare provider. She will steer you in the right direction.
If you’re reluctant to try therapy out — maybe because of stigma, nervousness to try something new, out of fear it might be a sign of weakness or any other reason — keep in mind that the right therapy can help you live a healthy, productive life.
If any of these signs sound familiar, we offer free anonymous support groups and individual talk therapy. Our online mental health services can help assess your needs and provide you with solutions that are tailored to you, such as depression treatment online.
Dr. Angela Sheddan has been a Family Nurse Practitioner since 2005, practicing in community, urgent and retail health capacities. She has also worked in an operational capacity as an educator for clinical operations for retail clinics.
She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, her master’s from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, and her Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. You can find Angela on LinkedIn for more information.
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