Benefits of seeking help for a mental health problem early on
If you’re experiencing anxiety, stress or depression the sooner you recognise the problem and take steps to address it, the easier it will be to get on top of.
The symptoms of these problems can become a bit of a ‘vicious cycle’. For instance, if you’re anxious about your workload you might lose sleep, or feel paralysed at the thought of your to-do list. Being tired and unproductive could cause you to get further behind, which will make you more anxious…and so on. Addressing a problem early makes it more likely you can turn things around before this happens. It’s also helpful to deal with thoughts and behaviours before they have the chance to become ingrained.
If you wait before seeking help, it can be harder to make changes and break patterns, which means it will be longer before you start feeling better. Just like if you sprain your ankle and keep walking on it, it’s going to take longer to heal!
Waiting can also have a knock-on effect, leading to secondary problems. For example, someone who is anxious about driving might avoid it, and begin to feel depressed because they’re getting out of the house less as a result.
So why would someone choose not to seek help right away?
Some people believe they can and should deal with mental health problems on their own – especially if the symptoms are fairly mild, as they can be at the start. They may have been brought up to be stoic, and to just plough on. Or they might be reluctant to trouble the doctor or to waste NHS resources, feeling that their issues aren’t ‘bad enough’ compared with patients who are ‘really ill’.
For others, the delay might be down to not yet having accepted the fact that they’re experiencing difficulties. They may even be afraid that they’ll be stigmatised for needing help for a mental health problem.
Some people may feel nervous about the process they’ll go through to tackle their problem, perhaps worrying that it will be upsetting or intrusive, or they’ll have to do things they’re not comfortable with.
Whatever the concern might be, the most important thing to remember is that if you have a mental health problem there’s no need to try and muddle through. If you ask for support, you won’t be wasting anyone’s time; you’re just as important as anyone else, and the resources that are available are there for you! Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), for example, is very well suited to people who want to take control of their stress, anxiety and depression while the problem is fairly new, as well as if they’ve been struggling for a while.
You do have to be in the right frame of mind before beginning treatment, and be prepared to put in some hard work. People have to be ready for change – you might be aware you have a problem, but not feel ready to do something about it just yet. If this applies to you it may still be worth contacting an organisation for help, as they may be able to help you decide if you’re ready to start tackling your difficulties.
As the process requires effort on your part, CBT doesn’t involve handing over the reins to someone else – you and the therapist will work together, and you’ll stay in control at all times.
Online CBT is a good way to begin the treatment process quickly, with no waiting list.