When Should I Seek Mental Health Help?
We all struggle with our mental health sometimes. At times, you may need to seek professional help, either to work through something you’re struggling with or deal with more intense emotional issues. There are a number of signs that may make reaching out to a professional a good idea. If this is something that’s crossed your mind, it may be time to look into a local therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist.
You Notice Personality Changes or Mood Swings
One of the clearest signs that you may be struggling with your mental health is that you notice sudden personality changes or mood swings. This could manifest as quick shifts in emotion (the mood swings) or longer trends like not being as outgoing as you used to be or not enjoying activities you used to. These shifts could point to several underlying mental illnesses, like depression and anxiety, or point toward difficulty managing emotions, which can be a symptom of mental illness in and of itself.
Changes to Your Sleep or Appetite Patterns
Sleeping and eating are two of the most important things we can do for our health, since they’re necessary for our bodies to function. Your mental health can greatly influence both. If you’re suddenly eating a lot more than you usually do or not hungry at all, that could signal a mental health problem, like depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder. Similarly, if you’re sleeping a lot more or lying awake longer at night, that could be a result of a mental health disorder, like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
You’re Stressed All the Time
We all feel stressed sometimes, but if you can’t “turn it off” when the stressor is gone — whether that’s work, family, or other responsibilities — it may be a good idea to talk to a therapist. While this may not be the sign of a mental illness (though it can be), a therapist may be able to help you manage the stress. They may simply help you talk about and process the stressors and emotions surrounding them or teach you methods to deal with the stress in the moment. These techniques can be invaluable, because you can’t totally avoid stress in your life. Managing it can help you be happier, healthier, and more productive.
You’re Struggling with Anxiety
Similar to stress, if you find yourself in a regular state of anxiety, it’s probably time call a therapist. Much like how a therapist can help you learn how to deal with stress, they can also teach you strategies for dealing with anxiety, especially for acute anxiety or panic attacks that you may experience. If you’re experiencing chronic episodes, it’s even more important that you get help managing these attacks.
You’ve Experienced Emotional Trauma
Trauma can come in many forms: the loss of a loved one, being fired from a job, being the victim of a crime, getting into a car accident, losing a friendship, etc. There’s no single gauge for how different traumas can and will affect us. You may be surprised by how something so small can really hurt you. Even if the event was years ago, talking about it with a professional now could make a world of difference for you.
Your Mental Health is Getting in the Way of Life
If your mental health symptoms are stopping you from doing the things you love or from living your life, remove those barriers by seeking professional help. Whether that’s a fear of flying or of meeting new people or depression killing your motivation, a therapist can help you work through these issues so you can live your life to the fullest.
You Want to Quit a Bad Habit
We’ve discussed how you can quit bad habits on your own, but you may require additional help. This is especially true for addictions like smoking, drinking, or doing drugs. Therapy is a common part of an addiction treatment program, often helping you deal with the emotional causes of your addiction. For example, smoking cessation counseling can be a useful tool to help you quit smoking or prevent you from picking the habit back up.
Suicidal Ideation or Worse
If you’re having suicidal ideation — thinking about or wanting to take your own life — or thoughts about hurting yourself, you should seek professional help immediately. If you need to speak with somebody now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. These professionals will talk you through a crisis and help you find the help that you need.
If You Think It May Help You
There are many reasons why you should see a therapist, but these aren’t the only reasons. Truly, if you feel like you may benefit from meeting with a therapist, that’s a good enough reason to seek out help. Not only can they help you to work through any mental health issues you’re currently experiencing, a good therapist may be able to prevent you from developing these types of issues in the first place. You can nip some stressors in the bud before they become issues or learn stress and mental health management strategies that work well for you.
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The most important thing is to understand that there isn’t anything wrong about meeting with a therapist. It doesn’t make you crazy or mentally defective, just like how going to the doctor doesn’t make you weak or sick. You’re just looking to improve your mental well-being with the help of a trained professional. What’s so bad about that?