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Therapy can be extremely helpful if you’re struggling with your mental health or going through a tough time. But how do you know when you need therapy in your life?

According to the National Health Service, there are several types of talk therapy, counseling, and psychiatry that can help you discuss your feelings or situations with a licensed professional.

While therapy isn’t a ‘‘cure’’, it’s certainly a great tool to help you learn how to manage your thoughts and feelings and aid you in recovery.

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First off, thinking you need therapy is nothing to be ashamed of. It offers a safe, confidential environment for people who need to talk. Millions of people are coping with mental health challenges. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 5 U.S. adults are living with a mental illness.

But people go to therapy for various reasons, regardless of whether they have a mental health condition or not. Therapy can help you gain confidence and improve your self-esteem, as well as help with family or relationship issues.

Regardless of the reason for seeking therapy, there are some sure signs that it might be a good time to do so.

The American Psychological Association suggests that it might be time to seek therapy if you have one or more issues causing you distress and it’s interfering with your daily life.

And, if you have a mental health condition left unchecked, you could risk:

  • having trouble keeping relationships
  • finding it difficult to care for yourself or others
  • struggling at work or school
  • experiencing an increase in health issues and/or hospitalization
  • suicide

Remember: Going to therapy doesn’t mean you’re broken

Therapy can help you deal with whatever you’re going through to improve your well-being and way of life.

If you have a broken leg, you don’t ignore it or put off a visit to the doctor for help. It’s not a bad idea to treat mental and emotional health issues similarly.

1. You’re super overwhelmed

If you’re dealing with intense emotion that is difficult to manage, you’re likely very overwhelmed. This can affect your ability to think and act rationally, and can even make you incapable of performing daily tasks.

Emotional overwhelm can be caused by lots of things that can be helped with therapy, such as stress, trauma, and relationship issues.

Being incredibly overwhelmed can make it extremely difficult to navigate through life because the consuming emotions can weigh you down, making you unable to do anything.

2. You’re sleeping too much or too little

Sleep and mental health go hand-in-hand, making you more susceptible to insomnia if you have a mental health condition and vice versa.

One research review showed that sleep deprivation can lead to negative thinking and leave you more emotionally vulnerable. Emotional distress can also lead you to oversleep and feel exhausted no matter how much sleep you get.

Sleep problems are especially common in people experiencing anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and ADHD.

3. You’re avoiding being social or can’t keep relationships

Poor mental health can lead you to withdraw from friends, isolate yourself, and distance yourself from your partner(s).

If this is happening to you, therapy can help you talk to someone privately about what you’re going through. When you’re struggling, maintaining healthy friendships and relationships is really important.

You need people you love around you, to keep you busy, to remind you that you’re loved, and to support you.

4. You feel hopeless

If you find yourself feeling hopeless all the time, you may be dealing with depression. Therapy can be especially helpful in targeting negative thoughts, analyzing the validity of these thoughts, or understanding how to work through them.

5. Your anxious thoughts consume you

Consuming intrusive thoughts that take over your day-to-day often come with anxiety or immense stress. Therapy can help you learn how to accept, challenge, and manage these thoughts in a healthy way and stop allowing them to control you.

6. You can’t control your emotions

If your mental health is declining, this can cause emotional instability. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, being unable to control your emotions is a major symptom in people with mood or anxiety disorders.

Therapy can be very helpful for those struggling with their responses to emotions, whether the cause is situational or tied to a mental health disorder.

7. You don’t care about anything

When your mental health starts to really suffer, you can suddenly stop caring about everything and feel irritable. This is very common in people with clinical depression.

It’s vital that you seek immediate help if you think you have depression. If left untreated, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts and ideation and, self-harm. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 34.

Help is available

Suicide and suicide ideation are becoming more prevalent as people deal with the effects of anxiety and isolation during a global pandemic.

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text “HOME” to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.

  • Ask someone to stay with you until help arrives.
  • Remove any weapons or substances that may cause harm.
  • Only call 911 if you think someone is in immediate danger and you are unable to reach them. Calling 911 should be used with caution.

8. Your work or education is suffering

Stress or dealing with a mental health disorder in the workplace can lead to poor productivity and human error. In fact, a 2010 research review found that mental health problems are often a reason employees drop, take sick leave, or leave a job.

When you’re already struggling, working can often be overwhelming and can add more stress, causing your mental health decline further. This could lead you to experience even more anxious thoughts about losing your job and struggling financially.

9. You’re eating more or less than usual

Struggling with your mental health can make you under or over eat. Emotional eating is very common in people struggling with their mental health. Therapy is often used to help people experiencing numerous mental health challenges, including disordered eating.

10. You’ve experienced a recent trauma

Therapy is very beneficial for people who have experienced a recent or past trauma. It can help you work through the trauma and what it means to you, and help you rebuild your life.

Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of therapy that has been specifically adapted for post-traumatic stress disorder.

11. You’re grieving

Grief can be difficult to live with and can cause an explosion of emotions. If it’s getting to the point where you’re not feeling any better after a long time, or it is interfering with your daily life, it may be time to seek help. Therapy can help you talk through and process grief, so you can move on from it.

12. You’re using sex or substances as a way to cope

Using sex and substances as ways to cope with what you’re going through aren’t healthy, sustainable coping mechanisms. This way of coping might mean you’re using sex to seek out the sensation of dopamine, which makes sex and orgasm feel so good.

But this sensation is only temporary, and things will come crashing down once again when it’s over. It’s not a long-term solution and doesn’t help you manage what you’re going through daily the way therapy can.

There are many benefits to seeing a therapist, so you can work through anything that is negatively impacting your life.

Confidentiality

Therapy is 100 percent confidential. Confidentiality is only broken if there is a serious danger to yourself or others. You can talk about things that perhaps you’re too scared to talk about with anyone else. There is no judgment.

Comfort

If you’ve been suffering in silence for some time, it can be a huge relief to get everything off of your chest with someone who can actually help you. It’s comforting to know there is someone listening because the therapist wants to help.

Healthy coping mechanisms

Being able to cope and deal with things in a healthy and constructive manner can lead you to having a happy, successful life. We all face challenges, and therapy can help you learn how to deal with them in a positive way.

Overcoming trauma

Overcoming past trauma is not an easy thing to do, but it’s something you can safely do with a licensed therapist or psychiatrist.

Healthier relationships

Therapy can help you keep your relationships on track and understand the importance of them. It will also help you look at whether you are in healthy relationships and learn how to establish boundaries. Therapy can also help you develop insight, change negative thinking patterns, and feel less alone.

What if therapy didn’t work before?

If you’re hesitant to try again, you’re not alone. Not everyone enjoys therapy or finds it beneficial, but this is often because you haven’t found the right therapist or form of therapy.

It’s so important to have a good connection and established trust with your therapist, as well as an informed understanding of what type of therapy will be the most beneficial for the issues you are facing.

If you’re ready to give it another go, you don’t have to attend multiple sessions. Instead, you can ask for consultations to get a feel for the therapist before committing to anything.

Remember that there are plenty of therapists out there, and you don’t have to settle. The match between the therapist and client is extremely important, and it’s OK to shop around until you find a therapist that works for you.

Looking for the perfect therapist can be hard, especially with so many out there. But there are some things that can help make your search easier:

  • Research therapists near you and look at their ratings and reviews.
  • Look into the type of therapy that will benefit you most, and search for therapists specializing in that area.
  • If you have a diagnosed mental health condition, look for a therapist or psychiatrist who specializes in that condition.
  • Ask for consultations without committing to any ongoing sessions to see who you connect with.
  • Try out online therapy or online psychiatry if in-person isn’t working for you. You can do these over video chat, phone calls, or sometimes even instant messaging.

Therapy can be beneficial for anyone, regardless of whether you have a diagnosed mental health condition or not. It can especially help people experiencing grief, trauma, relationship issues, confidence issues, and emotional instability.

It’s important to remember that therapy isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It can include some trial and error.

A good connection with a therapist is as important as seeking out the appropriate therapy for you. And you shouldn’t let one negative experience with a therapist put a stop to your search for help.