8 Common Reasons to See a Therapist

For years, therapy and mental health care have been deeply stigmatized – often causing individuals to shy away from seeking help. But as mental health professionals learn more about diseases of the mind, this stigma is starting to disappear. People are beginning to rely on counseling as an effective treatment plan to get through their daily life. As many individuals are finding comfort and dealing with their mental health problems, you may be wondering if professional help or mental health counseling may be a solution for you.

According to John Hopkins, mental health issues affect approximately 25% of Americans over the age of 18. Diagnosable mental illnesses include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and rarely schizophrenia, to name a few. Even for individuals who don’t suffer from a severe or chronic mental illness, it can be beneficial to talk through problems and traumatic events in a therapy session.

As beneficial as talk therapy is, it can often be challenging to gauge precisely when you need professional help. You may think your mental health condition is mild or under control and you don’t need a referral from a medical doctor. Or maybe you are merely coming to terms with the fact that you have some issues to work out. It can be uncomfortable to admit you need help, especially in a vulnerable area of your life. Talking about those difficult emotions can cause discomfort or emotional distress, but taking the first step is key to finding contentment, happiness, and peace down the line. As you’re considering your next steps to address your mental health issues, here are a few reasons individuals decide to seek therapy.

8 reasons to seek therapy

1. You’re overwhelmed by your own emotions and are feeling distressed.

Everyone has rough days and experiences emotional difficulties as a natural part of life. However, when you get to a point where those feelings are completely overwhelming and interrupting your daily routine, it may be time to go to counseling. Feeling stressed is one thing, but when anxiety leaves you paralyzed and scared to leave the house in the morning, that is a sign of a more serious disorder. Likewise, you can have a day where you feel sad. Still, when depression is overwhelming you and you can’t get out of bed or do not feel anything other than that crippling sadness or all-encompassing emptiness, it’s time to consult a psychologist. You deserve a high quality of life without constant worry or concern, so when you feel constantly distressed and overwhelmed, you seek help to find better coping mechanisms.

2. Fatigue is keeping you from normal activities.

Mental health and physical health are linked, with many mental health issues manifesting as physical symptoms. For instance, a common symptom of depression is extreme fatigue. If you are struggling to get out of bed in the morning or find yourself sleeping more than usual, you may be suffering from a more deeply-rooted mental health condition. A professional counselor can help you determine if your fatigue is a sign of a mental health issue.

3. Normal emotions like anger, fear, and anxiety are out of hand.

When the chemistry in your brain is off-balance, it affects your emotions in many ways. So normal feelings of anger, fear, anxiety, or resentment can be amplified. While getting angry is a typical part of life, going into a rage over day-to-day issues isn’t. Take note of whether these extreme emotions are out of proportion to the cause and consider scheduling an appointment with a prospective therapist to help you find the root of the problem.

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4. You’re abusing substances to feel better.

Sometimes patients will try and heal an emotional wound with unhealthy substance use. Numbing the pain with drugs, alcohol, or other addictions can seem like a reasonable course of action when you’re feeling desperate. Still, the reality is that this behavior is damaging to your mental and physical health. Substance abuse can be a sign that you need addiction treatment, psychodynamic psychotherapy, or cognitive-behavioral therapy. The right therapist will help you understand the deeper trauma or emotional distress you’re experiencing and offer ways to help you cope with difficult circumstances.

5. Your family and friends are noticing.

It’s natural to vent or complain about everyday life with your family or close friends. Because of this, they may notice a pattern before you realize it. Another sign you may need help is when those closest to you bring it up. If you find your family or friends are constantly checking in or asking how you are doing, it may be time to see a mental health counselor. Your friends and family want to help but may feel unprepared to tackle your particular issue. A suggestion to seek professional help is not a sign that they no longer care for you, but rather that they care deeply enough to notice signs of a potential issue.

6. Apathy has taken over, and you aren’t enjoying things.

Mental illness can take the joy out of daily activities. Apathy can be a sign that you aren’t doing as well as you could be. Not caring about things you used to love, losing your appetite, or feeling nothing in emotional moments can point to issues with depression or an anxiety disorder. A clinician can help you find the right treatment options to help you feel like yourself again.

7. You’ve tried everything, and nothing seems to help.

Your mental health condition is chronic, so you may constantly be trying new techniques to cope with your panic attacks or emotional distress. Many different attempts to feel okay can take their toll. Feeling hopeless or like you’ll never find relief or happiness may indicate a need for professional help. Extreme hopelessness can ultimately lead to desperate behavior or even self-harm. A counselor can help you get out of that negative headspace and find ways to cope healthily. 

8. You’ve experienced trauma or a difficult situation.

Therapy isn’t only for individuals dealing with a chronic mental illness. Some individuals can benefit from this type of treatment after going through trauma or experiencing a difficult situation. If you are recovering from grief, a move to a new city, loss, PTSD, an accident, or any other traumatic experience, you may benefit from a session with a professional counselor. No one should go through difficult moments alone. Instead, finding a way to talk through your problems will prepare you to cope with change. Skills learned in therapy can be applied to daily life and provide tools for helping the friends and family around you.

Finding peace and happiness should be a top priority for your quality of life. Scheduling your first session with a mental health counselor can lift the burdens you’re carrying and help you retake control of your emotions and sense of well-being.

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