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When to see a therapist and eradicating shame around therapy

At some point in our lives, we’ll all experience stress or anxiety, mood swings, or some kind of emotional distress. The reasons for these may be varied – from a professional setback to the death of a loved one – and sometimes, try as we might, it simply isn’t possible to overcome it ourselves.

We feel down and can’t manage to perk ourselves up again. We’ve developed negative habits that we can’t seem to break. These are the times that we need some professional help to get us back on track.

Looking after your mental health reinforces your ability to cope with everyday stress and allows you to handle challenges more readily. This is why it is essential to focus on your mental health and seek help when you need it.

Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness. The stigma surrounding mental illness has seen far too many people suffer as a result of fear of prejudice. Getting the help you need, when you need it, is the first step to looking after yourself and getting your life back on track.

According to mental health experts, if you’re experiencing any of the following, it is advisable to seek professional help.

You’re unable to self-regulate.

We all experience sadness, anxiety, or anger sometimes, but it’s important to note how intensely and how often you are feeling this way. It could be indicative of something more serious, such as underlying depression.

Going to therapy will help you manage your emotions more effectively and can help you pinpoint their root cause. A professional therapist can help you explore deeper issues and give you the tools you need to cope. It is a safe and objective space in which you can express your emotions without fear of judgement, appearing weak, or worrying that confidentiality will be broken.

You’ve been feeling unwell.

Mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression can have direct and indirect effects on our physical health. Physical conditions such as fatigue, headaches, tension, and a weak immune system are often indicative of a mental health concern.

If you suspect that your physical ailments stem from mental ones, see a therapist that can help support you through your journey back to health.

You aren’t as effective as usual.

When experiencing mental health issues, there is often a decrease in performance, meaning that you are not as effective as you usually are. You may have a reduced attention span, poor concentration and memory, and a lack of energy and excitement to fulfil everyday tasks.

Seeing a therapist could help you better regulate your behaviour and see you as effective as you’re used to by implementing ways to manage stress using various techniques.

Your interpersonal relationships have been affected.

Poor mental health can impact relationships in a variety of ways. It could cause you to withdraw from your partner or friends, or cause you to be more ‘needy’, and lean on them heavily for support. It could also have a negative impact on how you interact in the workplace.

Seeing a therapist will help you improve your social skills, and teach you how to deal with any conflicts that may arise.

You no longer enjoy the things you used to.

People struggling with psychological or emotional issues often feel detached from their everyday lives. This often results in them no longer enjoying the things they used to. This can be anything from sports to movies with friends. People experiencing mood disorders may even grow more isolated and have thoughts of suicide.

Seeing a good therapist will help you deal with any emotional dysregulation or depression.

You’re dealing with grief.

Dealing with any kind of grief can be a long and arduous process. The emotional burden of grief is a heavy one.

Having therapy or grief counselling can go a long way in lifting or easing this burden, particularly if you don’t have an outside support system helping you with it.

Your sleeping and eating patterns have changed.

Mental health often has a profound impact on sleeping and eating patterns. Someone suffering from anxiety may have difficulty sleeping, while someone in a depressed state could sleep more than the recommended amount.

The same applies to eating patterns. Some ‘eat their feelings’, while others find it difficult to eat when they are feeling stressed. If you notice a change in your usual patterns of eating and sleeping, consult a professional.