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How do I know if I need therapy?

January 2, 2023
By
Anthea Wells

We know how important it is to look after our minds as well as our bodies. If you broke your ankle, you wouldn’t keep struggling without help or getting it checked by a professional. Similarly, if you’re experiencing some mental health difficulties and it reaches a point where it affects your ability to function day-to-day, or becomes overwhelming and distressing, then it might be something more. When it gets to this point, think about talking to someone and seeking help. The sooner you recognise you are struggling and take steps to address it, the easier it will be to get on top of.

 

People tend to seek therapy for major life events or symptoms that can’t be explained by another condition, reports the National Institute of Mental Health. For instance, you may be going through a tough period in your job, having relationship issues, or coping with the loss of a loved one. It can be helpful to look at your thoughts and behaviours, like an onset of low energy or changes in sleep or appetite, 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 break your ankle and attempt to keep walking on it, it’s going to take longer to heal.

 

Over the past year, many people will have experienced new and intensified thoughts and emotions because of changes to their lives, the cost-of-living crisis and world events. So, you’re not alone.

 

If you’ve been wondering whether what you’re feeling is related to a common mental health condition, such as anxiety, stress or depression, here are some ways you can make the distinction.

 

Think about whether your emotions/feelings affect your daily activities. Do you avoid shopping or exercising because you’re too anxious to leave the house or just can’t be bothered? Are you finding it extremely difficult to get work done? Are you having arguments with family members? Have you noticed new physical symptoms, such as a churning stomach, headaches, fast heartbeat, shaking? Do you feel flat, lethargic, demotivated, or have little interest in doing things that you used to enjoy? If you're experiencing any of these symptoms regularly, you may benefit from therapy.

 

Ask yourself: ‘how long have I been feeling like I do?’ If you're anxious, is this the first time you’ve felt this way, or have you experienced it before? If you have felt this way before, what did you do last time that was helpful?

 

If you’re not sleeping well or your appetite is low, this maybe a response to a disrupted routine or increased worry. If it comes and goes, or you generally 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 change, and it continues for longer than a couple of weeks, this might be a sign that you may benefit from seeking support.

 

Start a conversation about it with someone you trust. Whatever the concern, the most important thing to remember is that if you have a mental health problem it’s normal to struggle with this at points in our lives. Please 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.

CBT can help to equip you with practical strategies and tools to cope with your feelings and make changes to to the things you do (your behaviours). Making a conscious choice to give therapy or guided self-help a go is important before beginning treatment and be prepared to put in some hard work. You and your clinician will work together in a collaborative way, and you are always in control of this process. Find out how online CBT with ieso works here.

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