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How to Know When It’s Time to See a Therapist

Working with a therapist is an excellent way to improve your mental health and work through life’s challenges. Although there should be no shame in seeing a therapist, many people do hesitate before reaching out for help. You may tell yourself that your problems will go away eventually or that you don’t feel badly enough to warrant a meeting with a therapist. Sometimes, though, contacting a therapist is the best thing you can do for your mental health.

Here Are Six Signs That It May Be Time to See a Therapist

1. Your mental health is affecting your quality of life.

Distress or impairment are the biggest signs that it’s time to talk to a therapist. Everyone has occasional bad days, but if your struggles are consistently affecting your choices or mood, professional help from a therapist may be best.

For example, you may find yourself staying home from work or not completing other important tasks because you don’t have the mental or emotional energy to get out of bed. You may start to avoid leaving the house because of a severe phobia. If you struggle with social anxiety, you might be too nervous to make new friends even if you feel lonely or isolated.

There are so many ways in which mental health problems can affect your quality of life. If you’ve been dealing with these issues for a long time, you may not even notice how much they’re impacting you. However, your mental health symptoms should never dictate how you live your life. If you feel like your decisions are being controlled by anxiety, stress, depression, or other mental health problems, you’ll probably benefit from finding a therapist.

2. You’ve tried to work on your mental health on your own without success.

Mental health is highly personal, and no one knows your mind better than you do. Psychological problems are incredibly complex, though, and a therapist or other mental health professional may be able to offer a new perspective.

Most people have at least one or two coping skills that they try to use when their emotional health takes a turn for the worse. Sometimes, do-it-yourself strategies like going for a run or speaking with a trusted friend can relieve stress and lift your spirits. Other times, these attempts to improve your mental health do very little to help. You may not even be able to find the energy to engage in your typical coping skills when you’re struggling with a serious mental health episode. A therapist can help when your own strategies haven’t worked.

3. Your relationships are becoming strained.

Friends and family can be great sources of support. Everyone should have someone that they can turn to when they’re having a difficult day or struggling with stress or mild mental health concerns.

There’s a big difference between a loved one and a therapist, though. As much as your friends and family want to help, they may not be equipped to offer you the guidance or support that you need. If you’ve been relying heavily on your loved ones during a mental health struggle, they may start to feel overwhelmed. In this case, it’s time to talk to a therapist instead.

You also may notice a change in your relationships if your mental health is causing you to withdraw or isolate yourself from loved ones. You may feel more distant if your anxiety, stress, depression, or other concerns prevent you from spending quality time with friends or family.

Some people may feel like they’re a burden if they reach out to loved ones for support. Although this is likely untrue, when stress, anxiety, or depression start to rule your life, your brain may falsely tell you that your friends or family don’t want to hear from you. Working with a therapist can be valuable in this situation because the roles are clearly defined. The job of the therapist is to work with you through the issue, so you don’t have to worry about being a burden.

4. You’re using substances or other unhealthy coping mechanisms.

Unfortunately, many people with mental health issues turn to drugs, alcohol, overeating, overspending, or other unhealthy habits to cope with their symptoms. While these experiences may provide a temporary break from stress or anxiety, they’ll only cause more problems in the long run.

Unhealthy coping mechanisms usually develop gradually. It may be hard to recognize that you’ve overusing a substance or engaging in a bad habit if it’s been slowly building up. If your first reaction when you feel stress or other negative emotions is an urge to use a substance, it’s probably best that you speak with a therapist. Not only can a therapist help you reduce your dependency on unhealthy coping skills, but your therapist can also help you work through the underlying mental health symptoms that have caused these habits.

5. Small amounts of stress cause a big reaction.

Managing stress is one of the most common reasons people work with a therapist. Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but your response to stress is within your control. You may benefit from working with a therapist if you have a disproportionately big reaction to small moments of stress.

Here are some signs you may need to speak with a therapist for help managing stress:

  • Lashing out at friends, family, or colleagues over small mistakes
  • Feeling a loss of control
  • Racing heart rate, muscle tension, nausea, or other physical symptoms
  • Giving up on tasks when something small goes wrong
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Ruminating on small mistakes or mildly stressful moments

Sometimes, stress management issues are a symptom of another mental health problem. Some mental health disorders can reduce your frustration tolerance and make it more difficult to cope with unexpected situations, leading to constant stress.

6. You’re experiencing a major life event.

You don’t have to be in the midst of a crisis to speak with a therapist. If you’re dealing with a major life transition, working with a therapist can provide clarity and guidance while you adjust.

A therapist can help you during both positive and negative life events. This is especially valuable for older adults who are experiencing many big life changes, such as retirement, changes in family structure, or loss of loved ones. Even if you feel like your mental health is in a good place, senior counseling can make the transition easier.

It can be difficult to know when it’s time to see a therapist. Many people have a habit of minimizing their own struggles, so you may hesitate to reach out to a therapist even if you’re having very difficult symptoms. If your mental health is causing severe stress or making your daily life difficult, though, it’s time to talk to a therapist.

There also is never a bad time to work with a professional. You don’t need a specific reason or sign to see a therapist. If you think you may benefit from working with a therapist for any reason, you can try it out. Counseling is one of the best ways to deal with stress, difficult life changes, or mental health disorders.

Blue Moon Senior Counseling offers therapy services for older adults. No matter what symptoms or struggles you’re experiencing, we can connect you with a therapist on our team who can help. Our mental health experts specialize in senior counseling and the unique emotional challenges that older adults face. To start working with an experienced, licensed therapist, reach out to Blue Moon Senior Counseling today.

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