Q: While we all face challenges in life, there are several signs that professional help may be needed. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or your quality of life is impacted by your mental health, it may be time to find a therapist. The stigma of therapy has been greatly reduced and more importantly, you can really benefit from learning the tools you need to cope with life’s demands.
So what are the signs that it may be time to see a therapist?
Well, Brandon Baxter, I’m about to make your day by telling you the words ALL men love to hear. You are right. LOL
I would echo just what you said – therapy might be a really good idea if your quality of life is being impacted over a period of time. Obviously, we all have periods of difficulty. We cannot stay in a state of happiness all the time, right? But if you notice that time has gone by and you are seeing that the quality of your life (which includes your own happiness and personal growth, your job performance, your relationships, your finances, your self-care, and overall health) is being impacted by your mental health, this is a great time to seek out professional help. At minimum you can get an evaluation from a professional to make that determination.
Q: I think there is a misconception that if you don’t have the energy to do things you used to enjoy then you are being lazy. But that’s actually a symptom of these disorders, right?
Exactly. Symptoms of clinical depression and anxiety can include feeling hopeless, decreased motivation, isolating yourself from friends and family, significant decrease or increase in appetite, and difficulty sleeping.
Basically, depression starts to rob you of the energy to live the life you used to enjoy. So, if your symptoms are impacting your ability to complete daily tasks at home or at work, or live the life you used to enjoy, it’s time to make an appointment with a therapist.
Q: What if you aren’t sad, but you get mad more often? It seems like sometimes guys tend to get more irritable when they’re having a hard time dealing with big emotions.
I’ll tell you the truth that won’t come as a major shock to anyone listening - and that is there are oftentimes gender differences in the way men and women present when they are depressed.
Now, there is no denying the research that shows us that men are not always as comfortable recognizing, naming, and showing emotions because of the way they have been socialized as children. That can take some training and some undoing. Once they learn it, they can enjoy it, get good at it, and it’s freeing and healing. They also have more testosterone and that can make their depression look more irritable than sad, too.
But for all of us, feeling irritable or tired or even overwhelmed by tasks or concerns is understandable because we are in psychic pain when we are depressed. Our focus is on our own inner pain and it is reducing the energy we would normally have to soothe ourselves and to care for others.
Depression or anxiety may also be robbing the person of good sleep. Sometimes it’s hard just to catch your breath. It’s like asking someone who has a migraine headache why they’re not being more kind to others. That’s a really painful time for them. They already have too many demands on their system. They’re maxed out.
Q: Depression, anxiety, trauma… no wonder these kinds of mental health problems cause significant health issues. Our poor bodies are trying to cope with so much internally – not to mention all of the external demands like family and work!
You mentioned relationships - Man, I feel like our significant others, our families, sometimes the people closest to us get the worst end of it.
Isn’t that the truth! Couples therapy has been shown to have a positive impact on the emotional well-being of both partners and it can be a great way to learn some skills and techniques that will enhance your relationship.
As literally everyone who has ever been in a relationship knows, relationships can be challenging and having a skilled professional present can help you each understand and process your feelings and learn to communicate your needs to your family or your partner. Therapy can help couples in relationships learn how to communicate in healthy ways, learn how to share their feelings in a vulnerable manner, be more emotionally expressive, have a great sex life, and be released from childhood patterns that may be holding them back.
Relationship therapy can be a very positive space to build meaningful connections with the people you care about.
Q: I think about all the big life changes I’ve been through. Can people come to therapy just to talk about changes they are going through even if they’re not depressed or anxious or really suffering?
Life changes can be exciting, but they can also leave you feeling scared or unsure. A lot of people come to therapy to help adjust to changes in their lives – both potentially good changes that they just don’t know how to navigate, like going to college, making a career change, feeling like something is missing in their lives and wanting to explore new growth opportunities – and ones they did not choose for themselves, like starting over after a divorce, a job loss, losing a loved one, accepting a new diagnosis, or after a life altering event.
Q: Should a person be embarrassed about telling their deepest secrets to a therapist? I figure you’ve heard a lot, but it still might make a person nervous.
Well, you certainly don’t have to tell all your secrets at the first meeting. You can get to know your therapist and build trust and a relationship with them. You can reveal information as you are comfortable – but keeping things bottled up often just makes it worse. Therapy can be a great outlet, so you don’t have to carry your burdens alone.
I feel like after 20 years, I have heard just about everything, so I’m hard to shock. Therapists have taken an oath to keep conversations with you confidential, they have committed their lives to helping others, and they’re trained to be non-judgmental. And just like any other professional you choose, if you are not comfortable with your therapist, I would encourage you to look for one you are more comfortable with.
Is it Time to see a therapist?
If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety or any other mental health disorders, consider speaking to a therapist or related professional.
Our friendly and compassionate mental health experts at Families, Inc. are here to help. Give us a call or visit us at one of our 11 local clinics in Arkansas. Together, we can help you enjoy a healthier, happier life.