Did you know that a study that was done in 2015 showed that the average person treated with psychotherapy was better off than 80% of those who did not receive treatment?
In 2016, another study suggested that outpatient psychotherapy has a large reduction in work disability days and hospitalisation days as compared to others. Psychotherapy helps people with various mental and emotional challenges look for long-term solutions to their problems. But how does one know if they should seek help from a psychotherapist?
People usually see a therapist or a psychotherapist when they are struggling with emotional or mental challenges and need help. Research has shown that the benefits of therapy last longer than taking medication alone. This is because while medication reduces some symptoms of mental health challenges, therapy further gives people skills to address symptoms of their own.
If you are struggling with mental health challenges but are unsure if you should seek professional help, these are signs that you may need to see a psychotherapist:
Sign 1: You Feel Anxious Most of the Time
It’s normal to feel anxious and worried from time to time. But when your worries overwhelm you, to a point where you start to have intrusive thoughts and cause physical symptoms, you may need to seek help from a psychotherapist. Any change in mood that lasts longer than two weeks should be addressed. This is especially true when you do not have an explanation for the shift in your mood.
Sign 2: Your problem interferes with your work or your life
Difficulty concentrating, trouble managing your emotions at work, or a sharp decline in productivity could be signs of a mental health issue. Whether you’re more stressed than usual or you just feel a little burned out, reduced performance at the office may be a sign of emotional distress.
A decrease in performance at work or school is a common sign among those struggling with psychological or emotional issues. Mental health issues can impair attention, concentration, memory, and energy, and can result in apathy, which saps the enjoyment of work or even the drive to work. It can result in a lack of interest and errors at work, which can result in subpar work productivity.
Your personal or professional relationships may suffer when you’re not feeling your best. You might find yourself short-tempered with your partner, isolating yourself from your friends, or rehashing the same problems over and over with your family. It’s hard to maintain healthy relationships when you aren’t feeling good on the inside. If you feel disconnected from people or other people are pointing out that you just don’t seem like yourself, you might want to speak to a therapist.
Sign 3: You’re having difficulty regulating your emotions
If you have overwhelming feelings of sadness or helplessness, you may need to see a psychotherapist. People can feel sad and hopeless when faced with a challenge. But when these feelings persist, it may be an indication of more serious problems such as depression and may even lead to thoughts of suicide.
Negative thoughts, uncomfortable emotions, and self-defeating behaviours can cause you to engage in unhealthy coping skills, like overeating or drinking. Keep in mind that almost any coping skill can become unhealthy. Sleeping to escape your problems or reading for endless hours so you don’t have to face your emotions could also introduce new problems into your life (or make existing problems worse).
Sign 4: Your sleep habits have changed
Your sleep patterns speak volumes about your mental health. From sleepless nights that leave you feeling exhausted to sleeping more hours than you should, they tell you how you feel.
It’s a two-way street. Your psychological well-being can take a toll on your ability to sleep (and to wake up feeling refreshed). On the flip side, your sleep schedule will also affect how mentally healthy you feel.
Talking to someone might treat underlying mental health issues that contribute to sleep problems, or it could help you stave off insomnia. Studies show cognitive behavioral therapy is particularly effective for overcoming insomnia.
Sign 5: Your physical health has taken a hit
Many physical aches and pains—like headaches and stomachaches—can stem from mental health issues.
Of course, it’s important to see your physician if you have physical health issues to rule out any medical problems first. If your doctor determines there are no known medical causes, you may be referred to a therapist. Anxiety, depression, and emotional distress can cause a host of physical symptoms. Treatment can help you feel better, both physically and emotionally.
“We don’t give mental health the same kind of attention as physical health, and that is a huge mistake given that they are interconnected,” says Dr. Durvasula, a California-based licensed clinical psychologist. “Mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression have both direct and indirect effects on our physical health—direct because psychological issues affect the central nervous system, which in turn has an impact on all other health systems (endocrine, immune, cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, etc.),” she says. Dr. Durvasula notes that “they are associated with a whole host of physical health conditions such as headaches, fatigue, muscle aches and pains, greater cardiovascular reactivity, a weaker immune system, chronic inflammation, and so on.”
It is important to keep in mind that although psychotherapy is useful to treat people with mental health situations, not everyone who benefits from psychotherapy has been diagnosed with a mental illness.
Psychotherapy also helps with stresses or conflicts that can affect your day-to-day activities. For example, if you find it difficult to face your problems and can’t seem to focus on your work or studies because of them, you may want to seek help from a psychotherapist.
Interested to learn about counselling and psychotherapy? Aventis School of Management offers a range of graduate diplomas and masters in counselling and psychotherapy courses, visit our website and talk to our programme leaders today to see which programme suits you the most!
Check out our other article, University of Roehampton’s Psychotherapy study develops a new way to measure relationship quality in counselling!
Signs That You May Need to See a Psychotherapist