Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.
– from The Rainy Day, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
We all must endure some stormy weather in our lives. So, how do you know when to get help in making it through these tempests? How do you know when it’s time to see a psychotherapist?
If you’re experiencing any of the following, you should consider seeking professional help:
Distress: Therapy can help people cope with distressing emotions. For instance, you might struggle with feeling sad, anxious, afraid, or angry. Related to these feelings, you might have trouble concentrating, sleeping, remembering things, or feeling motivated. You might also feel fatigue or lack interest in anything.
It’s particularly important to get professional help if you have suicidal or homicidal thoughts. Also, seek out help if you have a sense or have gotten feedback that you are losing touch with reality, such as believing that people are out to get you, hearing voices, or believing you have special powers.
Specific problems: If you’re experiencing emotional or behavioral problems that impact your life, it’s time to seriously consider therapy. Examples of this are addictive or compulsive behaviors, such as drug and alcohol addiction, emotional eating, compulsive shopping or gambling, or compulsive handwashing. Therapy can also help if your life is hindered by phobias, such as fear of leaving the house or of interacting socially.
Traumatic event: Seek professional help if you’re having trouble moving past traumatic events, such as a crime, accident, or illness (e.g. heart attack).
Lack of support: Therapists can provide emotional support beyond what family and friends can offer. For instance, loved ones might not understand your situation, or you just might want the support of an unbiased person.
Relationship problems: If you and your partner are unable to resolve certain issues, couples therapy just might save your relationship.
Personal growth: Many people enter therapy to help them improve their lives even when they’re managing relatively well.
In the end, choosing to seek out therapy is a personal decision. If you’re unhappy or dissatisfied with your life, you would be wise to at least consider making the choice to try therapy.
The Art of Relationships blog posts are for general educational purposes only. They may or may not be relevant for your particular situation; and they should not be relied upon as a substitute for individual professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need help for an emotional or behavioral problem, please seek the assistance of a psychologist or other qualified mental health professional.