You Should See A Therapist If This Happens To You

Unfortunately, seeing a therapist and focusing on your mental health is sometimes accompanied by stigma. Regardless of whether this negativity comes from outside sources or is completely internalized, it is true that many people view mental disorders as a form of weakness. The truth is, though: Everyone will experience at least an occasional rough patch — and seeking out help is an act of self-care and self-love.  

What's more, 264 million people are affected by depression alone, according to the World Health Organization. Suffice to say, it's a massive and universal issue. Fortunately, the conversation around mental illness and wellness is shifting, with more people acknowledging that these are real, everyday health issues — and nothing to be ashamed of.

Oftentimes, therapy is the first line of defense when facing depression, anxiety, stress, or other factors affecting mental health — and there's a good reason for that. A professional can help a patient get to the root of the issue and find coping mechanisms and effective treatments. Not sure if you're ready to talk it out? Worried you won't know what to say? Debating if you really need to see someone? More often than not, a therapist can help. If you're still on the fence, you should really consider seeing a therapist if any of the following issues sound familiar.

You should consider seeing a therapist if you're experiencing a lot of anxiety or feeling perpetually down

Stress is a normal part of being an adult. We all go through periods in life that are extra tense and bring on some degree of worry and woe. But when or if this stress starts to impede on your ability to function, it may be more than life's challenges at play. 

Clinical psychologist Monique Reynolds explained to Self, "Anxiety is a reaction to a situation we perceive as stressful or dangerous." She continued, saying, "A major part of our brain's job is to keep us alive, and fear and anxiety are a big part of that." Our hormonal response to stress and anxiety can be beneficial at times. In dangerous situations, for example, it triggers our ability to either fight or take flight, so to speak. But with broader anxiety, we experience this reaction in a perpetual way — and that's exhausting.

"When your world starts to become limited because of anxiety, that is a good signal that it's time to seek treatment," Reynolds said. Ask yourself how it's affecting your want and will to do everyday things: "What is it doing to your life, your relationships, your sleep, health, work, and ability to learn and pursue things that are important to you?" asked the psychologist.

See a therapist if you're having trouble keeping tabs on your emotions

Are you experiencing major mood swings or having trouble taming your inner anger? Consider consulting a therapist about your out-of-control, hard-to-nail-down emotions. Unmanaged angst and unresolved anger builds up over time and, eventually, your rage will boil over and affect all the areas of your life. Fortunately, there are multiple types of therapeutic treatment that could help you learn to better cope and face your fury in a healthy, calmer way.

As noted by Healthline, cognitive behavioral therapy is often useful in treating those whose anger is spurred by a past emotional trauma. Psychodynamic therapy can be helpful too, as it encourages patients to reflect on their behavior, acknowledge the major and minor motivations driving their feelings, and heal from the inside out.

Additionally, your oscillating mood could indicate that you would benefit from simply talking things out. Clinical social worker Rachel Fogelberg explained to HuffPost that people should welcome "the opportunity to open up about [their] thoughts, feelings and circumstances in a confidential environment. Within the safety of this secure environment, individuals can feel comfortable to explore areas of themselves or their lives that they are struggling or unhappy with."

Losing sleep? A therapist could help

If you are experiencing changes in your sleeping patterns, it could be a result of anxiety, depression, or another mental-health disorder. Whether you are having trouble initially falling asleep or waking up throughout the night, therapy may help you get to the root of what's causing this disturbance. Furthermore, studies have found that sleep latency can be improved with cognitive behavioral therapy — with people nodding off about 20 minutes faster after a few weeks of talking to a professional (via WebMD).  

If you are oversleeping more than usual without a physical reason, this could also point to depression. Sleep psychologist Michelle Drerup told the Cleveland Clinic, "When someone is depressed, it can be because they [see] sleep as a form of escape. They may be thinking, 'I don't have anything to look forward to so why do I even start the day?”

Either way, if you're not sleeping enough or sleeping too much, it can turn into a vicious cycle that further affects your mental health. And since everything looks better after a good night of sleep, consider seeing a therapist to helpyou get the ZZZs your body and mind need to function at peak capacity.

If your work performance has gone down the tubes, consider consulting a therapist

If you find yourself struggling to finish assignments, meet deadlines, or are just lacking the motivation and enthusiasm in your professional pursuits, it might be a sign that you are depressed or in need of a mental health recharge. In any case, therapy could be a smart option.

Psychiatrist Dr. Michelle Riba put it simply when speaking with Michigan Health: "People who aren't feeling present may not be able to perform their job. They may be distracted and not concentrating ... which can interfere with productivity; it's a domino effect."

Furthermore, as explained by career site, The Muse, therapy not only addresses the mental health issues impacting your work, it can also boost your performance by improving your interpersonal and communication skills, encouraging you to set boundaries at the office, and helping you to have a clearer vision of your overall goals and values.

If your eating behavior and appetite have dramatically changed, a therapist may be able to help

"Loss of appetite can be an early sign of depression or a warning of a depression relapse," geriatric psychiatrist Gary Kennedy told Everyday Health. "On the other hand, some people can't stop eating when they are depressed." Yes, some people may find themselves turning to food for emotional support.

Registered dietitian Debra J. Johnston, who also spoke with the publication, explained, "When patients eat in response to their emotions, they are soothed by the food as it changes the chemical balance in the brain, produces a feeling of fullness that is more comfortable than an empty stomach, and improves mood through positive association with happier times."

Of course, hashing issues out with a therapist can be more fruitful than hashing it out over a plate of fried food. As noted by the Mayo Clinic, seeking professional support can help you get to the root of your emotional eating and find productive ways to cope. 

When your mental health begins affecting your physical health, it's definitely time to see a therapist

Dealing with unexplained headaches, tummy troubles, shaking, heart palpitations, perpetual fatigue, or vague aches and pains? Obviously, these physical symptoms can be caused by many different ailments. But as explained by Healthline, they could also be the result of anxiety, depression, or another mental health condition.

Indeed, as noted by a study published in The Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, there is a "deeper biological connection than simple cause and effect" when it comes to depression and physical symptoms. Rather, both are associated with the "dysregulation" of both serotonin and norepinephrine, the two "neurotransmitters that influence both pain and mood."

Of course, it can be difficult to distinguish if an ailment is linked to a physical problem or a mental one — so the first step in seeking treatment is to talk to your primary care doctor. They may recommend further counseling and therapy.

Have zero interest in socializing? Consider talking with a therapist

If everyday interactions feel overwhelming and you have no want or will to socialize with friends or family members, you should talk to a therapist. It could be depression, anxiety, or another mental health issue at play. Even those who consider themselves introverts benefit from companionship. In fact, a study referenced by Psychology Today further indicated that those lacking regular face-to-face communication may double their risk for depression.  

Of course, if it is social anxiety you are dealing with, you may feel even less inclined to seek help. It means that you would have to open up to a veritable stranger and do the very thing you dread the most. But therapy is a safe, judgment-free space. If you're struggling with the idea, try online therapy, give yourself ample time to adjust to this new normal, write things down if talking them out seems daunting, and consider a peer support group where you can share if you choose or simply listen to others (via Verywell Mind).

See a therapist if you've experienced trauma

No one wants to rehash a trauma, but it can be cathartic to process your experience. Therapy can help you "make sense" of that "mess of emotions and reactions and questions," as explained by Psychology Today. Of course, you can do this by speaking in a supportive group setting, communicating with empathetic friends, or, perhaps most effectively, talking to a therapist or mental health professional in a one-on-one setting. 

What's more, working with a trauma therapist might not entail a deep dive on those compartmentalized memories and emotions you dread resurfacing. Rather, trauma therapy often "is less about thinking and talking, and more about doing and experiencing," as noted by Psych Central. It's a "structured and directive, it's highly relational, and it's truly compassionate." Rather than delve into traumatic history, many types of trauma therapy take a far more gradual approach with an ultimate goal to help patients "recover agency, confidence, self-esteem, sense of self, and peace of mind," the site explained.

No longer enjoying activities you once loved? Therapy can help

Withdrawing from activities or hobbies can be a sign that something heavy is weighing on your mind. When you abandon the things you typically enjoy because you do not have the desire, mental drive, and physical energy to bother, it is called anhedonia, as noted by Verywell Mind. It can happen temporarily as a result of feeling overworked or acutely stressed. However, on a more long-term basis, it can also be a sign of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.

Thankfully, you can get back to a place where you love your life and take pleasure in things big and small. Clinical psychologist Helen Friedman told Forbes, "Therapy can help someone suffering from depression or problems related to emotion dysregulation." Furthermore, it "can help you figure out what's holding you back, get rid of negative thoughts and behaviors and reconnect with what brings you joy."

Make an appointment with a therapist if you've started turning to alcohol or drugs to cope

You may not even realize if you are self-medicating. But turning to alcohol or drugs as the answer to your problems is an unhealthy and potentially dangerous way to cope. Getting drunk or high won't help you address life's challenges. Furthermore, it could be fueling the fire and adding to depression, anxiety, and mental health issues. Psychologist Ramani Durvasula told Forbes that "substance use can temporarily help alleviate unwanted feelings like hopelessness, anxiety, irritability and negative thoughts. But in the longer run, it exacerbates these difficulties and often leads to abuse or dependence."

If you think you may be dependent on drugs, alcohol, or even sex, you should seek out help and speak with your doctor. As explained by clinical psychologist Lindsey Giller, "Substance use also interferes with treatment for mental health disorders. This is why if you or your loved one is grappling with addiction, it's crucial to seek professional help as soon as possible" (via Forbes).

If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with addiction, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

See a therapist if you are grieving

"Therapy or grief counseling can help someone who's grieving by providing a safe, compassionate place to process the loss and all the distressing emotions that go along with it," Dr. Helen Friedman, a clinical psychologist, told Forbes.

Grief can bring on lots of emotions, and it can be hard to make sense of it all. Plus, not everyone reacts the same way when they lose someone they care about. Some individuals withdraw and isolate, while others resist solitude and fear being alone. Psychologist Mary Alvord told HuffPost that "we tend to think these feelings are going to go away on their own," but, instead, they can impede our ability to function normally on a day-to-day basis.

While you may have found constructive ways of managing your grief, like journaling, you should consider talking things out. A therapist can "validate" feelings and provide a non-judgmental listening ear (via Psychology Today).

A therapist can help with relationship problems

If your mood, depression, or generalized anxiety is affecting your relationships with friends or loved ones, it might be time to do some work from the inside out — with the assistance of a professional. Psychologist Mary Alvoid told HuffPost that therapists "can help empower people to make better choices in how they phrase things — and [they] teach people that it isn't just about what you say, but about your body language and overall attitude."

If your romantic relationship is strained, going to a therapist with your partner can help. Brian D. Doss, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Miami, told The New York Times that the average couple spends a whole six years being unhappy before trying therapy. That's a long time to resist getting help — and a lot of opportunity to let problems mount and tensions build. Couples therapy is best sought when disagreements begin to arise, so that you can address them head on as a team and find healthier ways to resolve other issues that pop up.

If you're having intrusive thoughts, consider seeing a therapist

Are you having intrusive thoughts? Often a symptom of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), these disturbing and sometimes unsettling ideas can play on repeat in your mind, driving anxiety, becoming a fretful fixation, and causing a feeling of imminent dread. Intrusive thoughts can also accompany eating disorders or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Sometimes, though, they just appear on their own.

Whatever the reason, the sudden and unrelenting barrage of unwelcome mental images or ideas can be debilitating. "What gives them power is that those who experience them become worried about their significance," according to Healthline. "People may fixate on them and become ashamed, intent on keeping them secret from others." Fortunately, therapy can help you face these feelings head on. Through cognitive behavioral therapy, in particular, you can find ways to manage these thoughts and take your power back. 

Furthermore, you can work toward finding "triggers" that cause these thoughts to pop up in your mind in the first place. And if it is OCD you are dealing with, a psychiatrist might prescribe antidepressants or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors as part of your treatment plan.

See a therapist if you've been thinking about self-harm

If you have engaged in any dangerous behavior or considered self-harm, you should seek immediate help. According to Psych Central, cutting is a type of self-harm frequently encountered by professionals. Those patients who inflict injury on themselves often say that the physical pain provides an outlet for their mental and emotional anguish. Of course, it is by no means a healthy way to channel those intense feelings. In fact, it can be habit-forming and have dire consequences.

As such, therapy is imperative for those considering or causing intentional self-injury. An analysis referenced in the aforementioned article found that patients who received cognitive behavioral therapy, or "talk therapy," harmed themselves less frequently. While there are some caveats to the research — including simultaneous treatment paths — the indisputable truth is that seeking help and speaking out is the best way to get on the right path.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

Any reason is a good reason to see a therapist

You do not have to have any one reason nor any significant cause for going to therapy. The reality is, even those who generally feel settled and content can benefit from occasional or even regular non-judgmental support. Who does not need a sounding board and listening ear?

As explained by Healthline, a therapist can be both a guide and "coach" to give you the confidence boost you need from time to time. The expert can help you "work on communication skills and find motivation." A therapist can also enable you to see things through a more objective lens or champion you in periods of transition — be they positive or negative. Whether you are switching jobs, moving across the country, or expanding your family, you can feel ready, willing, and able to take that next big (or even little) step in your life by working with a therapist who is trained to help you.