It's difficult to know if the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors you're experiencing are normal. It can also be tough to admit that you could benefit from professional help.
It’s not always clear-cut whether you should talk to a therapist. But there are some signs that could indicate talking to a professional might be a good choice. Here are seven signs you might want to talk to a therapist:
1. Your symptoms interfere with your work.
Difficulty concentrating, trouble managing your emotions at work, or a sharp decline in productivity could be signs of a mental health issue.
2. Your mood feels "off."
It’s normal to feel a little “off” sometimes. You’ll have rough patches where you’ll feel sad or anxious sometimes. But any change in mood that lasts longer than two weeks should be addressed.
This is especially true when you don't have an explanation for the shift in your mood.
3. Your sleep habits have changed.
From sleepless nights that leave you feeling exhausted to sleeping more hours than you should, your sleep patterns speak volumes about your mental health.
It's a two-way street. Your psychological well-being can take a toll on your ability to sleep (and to wake up feeling refreshed). On the flip side, your sleep schedule will also affect how mentally healthy you feel.
Talking to someone might treat underlying mental health issues that contribute to sleep problems or it could help you stave off insomnia. Studies show cognitive behavioral therapy is particularly effective for overcoming insomnia.
4. Your psychological health is affecting your physical health.
Many physical aches and pains—like headaches and stomachaches—can stem from mental health issues.
Of course, it’s important to see your physician if you have physical health issues to rule out any medical problems first. If your doctor determines there are no known medical causes, you may be referred to a therapist.
5. You experience unexplained changes in weight.
Stress and emotional distress cause some people to overeat. Others lose their appetites altogether. Even if you welcome a slightly slimmer waistline, don’t ignore changes in your appetite or weight.
It could be a sign of a mental health issue, such as depression. Treatment could help you feel better.
6. You use unhealthy coping skills.
Negative thoughts, uncomfortable emotions, and self-defeating behaviors can cause you to engage in unhealthy coping skills, like overeating or drinking.
Keep in mind that almost any coping skill can become unhealthy. Sleeping to escape your problems or reading for endless hours so you don’t have to face your emotions could also introduce new problems into your life (or make existing problems worse).
7. Your relationships are impacted by your emotional state.
Your personal or professional relationships may suffer when you're not feeling your best. You might find yourself short-tempered with your partner, isolating yourself from your friends, or rehashing the same problems over and over to your family.
It’s hard to maintain healthy relationships when you aren’t feeling good on the inside. If you feel disconnected from people or other people are pointing out that you just don't seem like yourself, you might want to speak to a therapist.
How to Talk to Someone
You might be tempted to wait and see if you start feeling better on your own so you don’t have to call a therapist. But if your distress doesn't improve within two weeks, reach out to a mental health professional.
Remember that talking to a mental health professional isn't a sign of weakness. It takes much more mental strength to admit you don't have all the answers than it does to pretend like you have everything all together when you don't.
Keep in mind you don’t have to see someone in person. You can connect with an online therapist if you would prefer to talk to someone via messaging, phone, or video chat.
To find a therapist near you, visit the Psychology Today Therapy Directory.
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