How can I tell if I need therapy?
In recent months there’s been a focus on our physical health, which isn’t surprising. However, the coronavirus pandemic has also been a catalyst for talking more openly about mental health, with the government, celebrities, charities and businesses all acknowledging how important it is to keep our minds well, along with our bodies.
Many people are experiencing new and intensified thoughts and emotions as a result of the changes to their lives. Perhaps you’ve been wondering whether what you’re feeling is ‘normal’, or might actually be a sign that you have a more serious mental health difficulty or disorder. We thought it would be useful to share a blog that will help you to reflect on this, and make the distinction.
“Being a bit more down or anxious is only to be expected at the moment, as a result of what we’re all experiencing,” explains psychological therapist Joanne Adams. “We’re apart from people we love, we can’t do the activities we used to enjoy, and everything is a bit uncertain. However, if this reaches the point where it has an impact on our ability to function day-to-day, or becomes overwhelming or distressing, then it might be something more.”
Think about how your feelings are affecting your daily life. Do you avoid shopping or exercising because you’re too anxious to leave the house? Are you finding it extremely difficult to get work done? Does the idea of doing the washing seem impossible? Are you having big arguments with the family? Are you getting any new physical symptoms, such as a churning stomach, headaches, fast heartbeat or shaking? Do you feel flat, demotivated, or lacking the interest to do things?
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms regularly, you might benefit from therapy.
The length of time you’ve had the feelings is also an important factor. If you’re not sleeping well or your appetite is low, this might be a response to a disrupted routine or increased levels of worry. If it comes and goes, or you’ve always tended to sleep badly or lose your appetite when you’re stressed, then it may not be something you need to be especially concerned about. But if it’s a recent thing, and it continues for longer than a couple of weeks, this might be a signal that there’s a more serious problem you should probably deal with.
Some people are coming to Ieso reporting that they feel unusually worried or depressed. For some, this is new. Others will have worried a lot or experienced a low mood before the pandemic, and recent concerns relating to the virus have made this worse.
Ask yourself: how long have you been feeling like you do? Did it coincide with lockdown, or were you feeling like this six months ago? If you’re anxious, is this the first time you’ve felt this way, or have you experienced it before? Were you already feeling down about life or the state of the world before the coronavirus outbreak?
It’s important to point out that whether your difficulties are a new thing for you or not, and whether the root cause is the coronavirus or a longer-term problem, you could benefit from having therapy. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be particularly effective in this situation.
“Some patients tell us they’re anxious about the virus, but while this may have prompted them to come to us they’ve actually been struggling for years,” says Joanne Adams. “Whatever the underlying cause, CBT equips the patient with practical strategies and tools to cope with their feelings, and to help them change their behaviours. This approach helps them to understand and improve the difficulties they’re having.”
If you’re currently having difficulties, and you’d like some support with managing them, online CBT can be a good way to understand and address how you’re feeling quickly. Find out what you can expect during online CBT, and begin your journey.