12 Signs It's Time to Talk to a Therapist

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Ask For Help

Do You Need Therapy?

Is your life about to get really complicated? Is a situation that was barely tolerable becoming completely unmanageable? Have you ever considered psychotherapy? If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. Millions of people have found that therapy provides a supportive and confidential space to address personal concerns. There are many reasons why people consult therapists. See if you recognize yourself facing any of these situations. 

Related: Why People Avoid Seeking Mental Health Care

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You're Dealing with a Major Life Change

Even desired changes, such as marriage or sending a child to college, pose new challenges and demand significant investments of time and emotional resources. You might have public “milestone” events, such as retirement, or more private and subtle versions of change, such as aging. Therapy can help you mobilize new responses and recognize options in making important life decisions.  

A Lasting Malaise

You've Felt a Lasting Malaise

Perhaps you are feeling flat, exhausted, irritable, or unusually anxious for more than a couple of weeks. Similarly, you might notice that activities and interests that you once really enjoyed now seem tedious, or you might refuse social invitations and crave more time alone. These are all important indicators of a change in your personal well-being that deserve attention from a mental health professional.  

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Significant Stress

You're Experiencing Significant Stress

Some stress is caused by work environments that are demanding due to frequent deadlines, negative interactions with coworkers or customers, or abusive supervisors. The experience of commuting is also stressful for many drivers. Other versions of stress may be related to a lack of personal time or privacy. Therapy reduces your stress level by offering tools to establish interpersonal boundaries, create self-care routines, and define lifestyle choices. 

Related: 14 Cheap Ways to Hack Your Life for Happiness

Consider Therapy

Your Relationships Are Strained

A number of studies have correlated social isolation with reduced life span, and others have found that unresolved anger can worsen medical conditions. Alternately, the presence of loving and supportive relationships facilitates improved mood, cognitive functioning, and physical well-being. Therapy helps to improve communication skills, develop insights into how others think and feel, and clarify interpersonal needs and expectations.  

Body Dissatisfaction

You Feel Dissatisfied with Your Body

Our culture is saturated with airbrushed images of youthful and beautiful people. In response, you may criticize aspects of your actual body. Intense feelings of shame, ugliness, and disappointment can result from experiences as common as acne or going bald, as well as from any version of physical difference. Therapy is helpful in addressing these critical feelings and embracing our physical capabilities.

Health Concerns
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You're Dealing with Physical Health Concerns

Many people have learned to ignore physical discomfort and emotional distress. Therapy reestablishes those feedback pathways. By becoming more aware of your internal life, including thoughts, feelings and physical sensations, you have more ability to perceive and respond to your immediate needs. In chronic health conditions, such as back pain, psychotherapy is a useful tool to reduce levels of anxiety and unexpressed anger that may increase pain perception and physical tension.

Substance Dependence

You're 'Self-Medicating'

A problem with reliance on substances can include known intoxicants such as alcohol, prescribed medications, marijuana, and street drugs, as well as nicotine, caffeine, and sugar. The term “self-medication” is used to describe the way in which people often try to cope with untreated psychological conditions. Depression, mania, and anxiety disorders are often masked by the substance use, and therefore don’t get the needed attention they require. Therapy provides support in developing other coping strategies.  


You've Experienced Trauma

The effects of trauma are significant and enduring. If you have a history of significant loss, exposure to violence (whether witnessed or received), or parental substance use or mental illness, the negative effects on self-worth, a capacity for trust, and the formation of healthy relationships are likely to persist without help from a trained professional. Therapy provides a safe and supportive environment to explore painful experiences and regain a sense of control. 

Your Mood Shifts Rapidly

Your Mood Shifts Rapidly

Maybe you’re feeling rapid shifts in mood, unusually high levels of energy, and less need for sleep. Maybe your level of irritability or anger is high, you are spending impulsively, and you have increased sexual drive. If left unaddressed, these symptoms impair decision-making and can result in significant health and safety risks. Therapy identifies resources and strategies to manage impulsivity and risk factors.


You're Grieving

Some losses include the death of a partner, parent, friend, or pet. Other losses might be more subtle or symbolic, such as the loss of financial stability, faith or sense of purpose. The experience of grieving a present loss can also reawaken feelings from other losses earlier in your history. In therapy, you are supported through the grieving process as you recreate a new life and find meaning and purpose after loss.

Suicidal Thoughts

You've Had Suicidal Thoughts

Persistent thoughts of self-injury or suicide reflect a significant level of distress and hopelessness that is important to address with a mental health professional. Once you can get the urgent help and resources that you need, you can reconnect with hope, strength and improved ways to address the source of your pain.  

Look into Other Community Resources

You're Seeking a Path Toward Self-Improvement

Therapy can be helpful if you want to gain perspective on yourself, your relationships, your direction, and your personal goals. Therapy provides a laboratory for learning new communication skills, challenging long-held attitudes or beliefs, and fostering creative problems-solving. This increased understanding of yourself and others clarifies personal priorities, reshapes the ways in which you think and act, and realigns how you structure your time and energies.

Solution: Address Underlying Mental Health Issues

Is Therapy Right For You?

By now, it might be clear that there are many factors that bring people to therapy. Even if you did not find yourself in any of these specific scenarios, know that therapy is a good resource for many of life’s challenges. Therapy does not need to be a “last resort” option for addressing your concerns. There are also plenty of free and low-cost options for mental health care, so there's no need to be deterred by a financial situation. By initiating therapy, you are actively taking steps to improve your mood, self-knowledge, and relationships. It is an affirmation of your worth and commitment to your future potential.