How Do I Know I Need Therapy? 8 Signs It's Time
“You’d better see a therapist”
Often used as an insult or a joke, this phrase is used far too often with a negative connotation. BUT thinking you need therapy is nothing to be ashamed of. Therapy is a safe, collaborative and comforting space aimed at supporting and encouraging growth.
What is Therapy and Who is it For?
People go to therapy for many different reasons, whether they have a specific mental health complaint or not. Therapy not only provides you with the skills to cope with mental health complaints, but can help you gain confidence, improve self-esteem and help family/relationship issues. Going to therapy doesn’t mean you’re broken. It means you have recognised that some parts of your life are not adding up and you have taken a brave step towards investing in yourself and your future self.
Knowing when you need to seek help can be challenging and confusing though. How can we tell when it’s time to get help? The American Psychological Association suggests if you have concerns causing you distress that it interfering with your day-to-day life, it might be time to pursue therapy.
Regardless of the reason to seek therapy, here are 8 helpful signs to look out for to show it’s time to talk it out.
8 Signs You Might Need Therapy
1. You feel overwhelmed
Maybe you are feeling like your thoughts are consuming you, weighing you down or keeping you from being able to do anything. It has all become too much and is spilling over. Feeling overwhelmed can be caused by several things ranging from work stress to relationships. It influences how we cope and process all our emotions and feelings. Feeling out of control or unable to process what is going on in your life can be helped with therapy. It does so by providing you with a space where you can work through your thoughts and feelings.
2. You find that something is just not feeling quite right
Maybe you have a shorter fuse than usual or are continuously feeling low. Perhaps you have tried many ways to get yourself out of that negative loop, but nothing is helping, leaving you feeling hopeless. Feeling hopeless or having difficulty regulating your emotions can add to you feeling like something isn’t quite right.
Being unable to control your emotions is tied to some mental health disorders. Paying attention to how you react to daily stressors, how intensely you feel these emotions and how this has changed over time can be helpful to consider if you need therapy. Staying in tune with changes in your mood and behaviour can be indicators for symptoms of acute mental health disorders and difficulties that may need to be addressed sooner rather than later.
If you’re feeling hopeless, therapy can help target negative thoughts, challenge them and find alternative, positive ways to view a situation.
3. You want to work on yourself
Perhaps you just want to understand yourself better. For some, therapy is a chance to get to know you are, your core values and what your future ambitions are. Understanding why we think the way we do, why we act this way and why we feel the way we do adds to our self-esteem.
Therapy can help you grow into the person you want to be to yourself and to others. It can help you to understand a situation, the role you play in it, and what you can do differently. It also helps you zoom out and understand the impact you have on others and how your behaviour influences this. A therapist will be able to point out any self-sabotaging patterns you may have and adapt them to become more positive and constructive.
4. You are having difficulty at work or school
Not performing as you used to at work or in school is a common indication of someone struggling psychologically. Mental health is often associated with concentration, attention and memory impairments. Poor mental health is also associated with a lack of interest in the enjoyment of working. This lack of interest can develop into making more mistakes and reduced productivity.
Getting help from therapy can help to regulate your behaviour and learn important and adaptive ways to manage and cope using problem solving. The goal of therapy here would be to get you back to optimal functioning and healthy brain activity.
5. You no longer enjoy things like you used to
Perhaps you had a hobby or used to spend the weekend at the movies with your loved ones. When your mental health starts to go down, you can begin to feel disconnected or suddenly stop caring about activities you once used to. This is a common sign of someone who is feeling stuck, or someone with depression.
Therapy can help you figure out why. Often, a lack of enjoyment is linked to issues with emotion regulation. Therapy can help you figure out what is stopping you, how to move forward and how to reconnect with previous activities that once brought you joy.
6. Your social life has been impacted
Your social life can be impacted in several ways:
Sometimes, you just need someone outside your social circle who you know is an unbiased and confidential person to talk to. Talking to a therapist is unlike talking to a friend. They are a neutral, third party who you absolutely trust with your deepest thoughts and feelings. There are no hidden agendas and no risk of them getting tired or burdened by your story. It’s a collaborative effort where you both explore what you did, dig deep into the why’s and untangle the knots.
7. You are having trouble sleeping, eating or you are experiencing physical symptoms
Appetite and sleep can be largely affected by mental health issues. Difficulties sleeping can range from sleepless nights to difficulty leaving your bed. Similarly, some cope with their overwhelming emotions by overeating in order to suppress their emotions, while others lose their appetite. If you find that you experience changes in your eating and sleeping patterns, this may be a sign to seek help.
Our mental and physical health are connected to one another. Mental health issues affect other systems related to our health, which are expressed as psychosomatic symptoms. These symptoms are numerous; namely headaches, fatigue, pain, among others. If you have experienced such symptoms for some time, therapy may provide you with the support you need.
8. The way you are currently coping is making things worse
If the way you’re trying to cope is making you feel worse and making things more challenging, it’s time to see a therapist. If you are excessively engaging in pleasure-seeking behaviours (e.g. drinking alcohol) or avoiding the issue altogether, letting your impulses take over your behaviour can lead to dangerous outcomes. Maybe you are making knee-jerk decisions to cope with or avoid dealing with your emotions. Regardless, talking to a therapist can help you pinpoint your trigger points and unravel the underlying problem.
You are not alone. There are several benefits to seeking help from a therapist. Therapy is a confidential, non judgemental, comforting space. The main goal: providing you with the tools to cope and work through anything that may be hurting you or impacting your life.If you have tried therapy and it did not work before, don’t worry! You are not alone. Often this means you haven’t found the right therapist or the right form of therapy. The most important part of therapy is to develop a good connection and establish a trusting relationship with your therapist.
If you’re thinking of visiting therapy for the first time and need an extra hand or you’re ready to try therapy again, here at AntiLoneliness we are happy to support you. Alternatively, group therapy can also be an option for you to find similar others and share your experiences.
Written by Vainui Nicole, Intern Psychologist at AntiLoneliness
TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE.