Do you really need therapy? How bad is too bad?
Do I need to see a therapist?
First of all, irrespective of whether you need a therapist, you might want a therapist for many good reasons:
Illness: Maybe you’re struggling with deep depression or anxiety. Maybe you don’t even know what the problem is, so you can’t figure out how to fix it.
- Circumstances: Maybe you’re facing a life challenge and want to deal with it better. Maybe you know exactly what the problem is, but are struggling to manage your needs vs the needs of others.
- Growth: Maybe you want to understand yourself better and live more fully. Maybe you know there is a lot of unprocessed stuff from your past, which might be holding you back.
Irrespective of what your reason is, the common theme is that you’re ready to do something about it.
But really, how do I know when things have gotten too bad?
Therapy is an incredibly useful resource when you’re struggling with your mental health.
Mental health issues can occur without any clear underlying reason or due to a variety of life circumstances, including grief, abuse, divorce, sexuality, low self-esteem, and trauma. You may need to pay attention to your mental health if:
- You’ve been frequently experiencing intense feelings (sad, angry, worried, scared, irritable, etc)
- You’ve been struggling to cope and focus at work, feeling demotivated or overwhelmed
- You’ve been avoiding people, feeling disconnected or experiencing conflict in relationships
- There has been a steady decline in your self-care (eating, sleeping and exercise habits) or physical health (low energy, falling sick more often, gaining or losing a lot of weight)
- You’re regularly using alcohol, drugs or other substances to feel better
- You’ve had thoughts of not wanting to live or suicide (even if without intention to act)
Keep in mind:
- Even if you’re successful at work, get things done and socialize a lot, you may be a ‘high functioning’ person with a mental illness. Maybe you have learnt to push yourself to be ‘ON’ or use activities as distractions. When you have time to yourself, does your mood change back to a low?
- There is a difference between being sad or stressed (emotions) and having depression or anxiety (mental health issues). With mental illnesses, your brain chemistry is affected in a way that you can’t just think your way out of it, or hope that a vacation, promotion, or relationship will fix it.
- Even if you’ve learnt to cope with circumstances and feel life is manageable, mental health affects your quality of life and ability to live to your potential, and can be improved.