Featured Image: @hashtagbasicbabe
Article By: Meghan Steel
Before we discuss the warning signs of a potential problem. Let me make one fact abundantly clear. There is no shame in seeking the assistance of mental health professionals. You wouldn’t fault someone for seeing a doctor for their diabetes or arthritis. So why would it be any different for someone seeing a psychologist? Mental health is equally as important as physical health. It can affect your behaviors and habits, which in turn can put you at a greater risk for the development of a host of other diseases. Even if you do not display any symptoms that could result in a diagnosis of a mental disorder or syndrome. Therapy can still be a useful activity to help you better understand yourself or to give you the tools to deal with future challenges or traumas.
Furthermore, therapy does not always require the assistance of a psychiatrist. Informed, objective support can come in many forms. I would recommend you explore all available options before seeking the more expensive assistance. There are also a variety of apps and websites that will connect you remotely with a therapist so you can chat from the comfort and privacy of your own home. So when do you need to see a therapist? Here are 8 signs it’s time to seek therapy.
1. Disruptions to Your Sleeping Pattern
Sleep provides your brain an opportunity to clear out the microscopic debris that has accumulated from a day of thinking. An internal clock, referred to as a circadian rhythm, helps tell our bodies when it is and when it is not appropriate to fall asleep. Too much or too little sleep can throw off the timing of this rhythm and prevent your body from receiving a sufficient amount of rest. Lying in bed for an extended amount of time without any feelings of drowsiness. Waking up frequently throughout the night, feelings of exhaustion even after sleeping all night. Or drifting off to sleep at any point during the day are all warning signs that it may be time to check in with a mental health professional.
2. A History of Volatile Relationships
Whether it’s romantic partners, friends, or family, if there is a pattern of unhappy or even belligerent relationships in your past, it may be a sign that something is wrong. One or two volatile relationship does not a pattern make, but if you find that you are constantly fighting with every person around you. Your behaviors are the only common denominator.
This in no way means that you must be a bad person. We are all products of a combination of genes, environments, and experiences that determine how we respond during social situations. A history of abuse or neglect can erode any feeling of trust and can leave a person feeling defensive or aggravated. Both of these outcomes can leave a person unable to develop healthy relationships. Accordingly, past traumas can result in a complete absence of self-confidence which may lead a person to overcompensate and appear cocky or narcissistic or may push them to reject others before they can be rejected themselves. This is a sign that you need to see a therapist.
3. Detachment Or Lack of Interest
The absence of joy in activities that were once considered extremely fun or pleasant is one of the biggest warning signs that a person is struggling with depression, anxiety, or both. This does not refer to the potential for evolution in interests. Such as the former party-girl who now prefers a quiet night at home to going out to the club or bar. But when your favorite activities of the time are no longer bringing you happiness, you should probably talk to a counselor or therapist.
4. Hyper-Focus on One Activity or Event
Excessive attention to behaviors or events is most troubling when it causes an individual to stress when that action is not performed or when it creates an impediment to the activities of daily living. It can also be a sign that a person is suffering from some form of mania in which their energy and activity levels become elevated far above normal. Problematic obsessive/compulsive behavior can come in many forms.
While there may be little objective justification for a person flipping a light switch multiple times. Many otherwise normal and healthy behaviors can quickly become detrimental for a person’s well-being. For example, I enjoy writing so when I am engaging in this activity, I easily ignore the events around me. Yet if I were to become so obsessed with writing that it was preventing me from engaging with my partner or completing other necessary tasks, this would be a sign of problematic behavior.
While it is healthy to monitor your diet and engage in regular physical activity. If you obsess over every calorie that enters your mouth or becomes extremely depressed or anxious when you can’t spend hours in the gym every day. These healthy habits can quickly become troublesome. Frequent tardiness due to the need to always check and double-check that you locked the front door. Monitoring your bank statements every hour of every day. Or excessive visits to a physician just to be told (again) that you are perfectly healthy are all reasons you need to see a therapist.
5. Emotions That Feel they are Beyond Your Control
Telling your brain not to think is like trying to tell your stomach not to digest. You may not always have a choice in what thoughts appear in your mind, but you do get to decide how you will respond to them. If you are unable to control the reaction to these thoughts. Such as becoming extremely depressed when reminded of your ex or excessively angry when that person in the truck cuts you off, you likely do not currently have the necessary tools for emotional resilience or regulation. Fortunately, these are skills can easily be learned in just a few visits to a therapist.
6. An Avoidance of Commonplace Situations or Activities
This type of problematic behavior can manifest in a variety of ways. Perhaps a story about an airline mishap has prevented you from ever getting on a plane again. Or maybe a salmonella infection has led you to deny any invitation to ever eat out at any other restaurant. Whatever the cause of your aversion, when your anxiety is preventing you from participating in the necessary activities of life, a therapist can help you overcome this fear and to again fully integrate yourself back into society.
7. Excessive and Growing Use of Substances
Substance abuse is a disorder that can harm you in multiple ways. First, there are the physical effects of drugs, such as liver and lung damage. There are also deleterious mental outcomes, such as an increased propensity for violence or risk-taking behaviors, interruptions to sleep patterns, and a break-down of social relationships. If you find yourself unable to ever say no to the offer of drugs or alcohol. Or if you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms like depression or pain after periods of non-use. These are both warning signs of a potential substance use disorder and mean that you likely need to see a therapist.
8. Thoughts of Self-Harm
While this is the most obvious reason on this list for seeking professional assistance. The continued high rates of suicide around the world are evidence that this message still needs to be repeated. If you think regularly about harming yourself, please know that there are people out there who care about you. There are people out there who want to give you the opportunity to help yourself get better.
If this has become a consistent problem for you or you find yourself at the bottom of a pit with no expectations for pulling yourself out, please do not hesitate to call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Trained volunteers can help you get past the immediate urge to hurt yourself and can connect you to local therapists who will help you work out the underlying issues.