While professional mental health counseling has remained an area of stigma for many people, the truth is that a mental health professional can help you through hard times, both individually or if you are in a troubled relationship. There are simply some things that you cannot and should not go through on your own, especially when counseling can help you get through a difficult time in your life.
However, not everyone knows whether counseling is a good idea or not. If you are considering counseling, remember that a good counselor can only help things get better. If you are not sure if you need counseling, there are seven signs that you could use some help:
1. Suicidal Thoughts
To begin, if you or anyone you know is thinking about suicide and is not convinced that life is worthwhile, get help immediately. Suicide is nothing to mess around with and there are plenty of people available to help, often on a confidential basis. There is a national suicide hotline (800-SUICIDE) and resources at many colleges, schools, recreation centers, gyms and other mental health centers.
2. Consistent Depression
Everyone has a bad day now and then. However, if your bad days seem never-ending or depression starts to affect your daily life, it is time to get some help. Remember that depression is often a physical problem as well as a mental one because of changes to the body’s chemistry, which means that counseling and medication (natural or otherwise) can often help turn things around.
3. Overwhelming Anxiety
There are situations in everyday life that make everyone feel anxious. If your anxiety is constant and accompanied by trouble sleeping, trouble breathing, or is interfering with daily life, counseling can be helpful. A counselor can help identify the source of the anxiety and teach you ways to better manage or stop the anxiety from occurring.
4. Other Changes
If you suddenly find that your appetite and/or sleep patterns are changing and you cannot seem to get them back on track, it might be time for some counseling. Speak with a medical doctor first to rule out any medical reason for the problem, but if you are also going through emotional distress, the problem may be more about your mental state than your physical one. A counselor can offer resources and techniques to help get you to a better place.
5. Inability to Change
Sometimes a certain feeling or behavior starts and keeps getting worse over time. If you are concerned about something that is happening in terms of how you are behaving or feeling, have tried to change or stop it on your own and cannot change what is happening, consult a mental health professional for counseling.
6. Say What?
Another symptom of mental distress is the inability to concentrate on basic, routine activities at work or school. If you find that you cannot keep your mind on task or are having problems concentrating as well as issues with eating or sleeping, the time has come to look for a counselor.
7. Too Much Effort
Another sign that counseling may be helpful is if you suddenly find that life is just too much work, from getting up in the morning to showering and dressing, having normal conversations or going out with friends or showing up to work or school. When life starts to seem purposeless or as if it’s just too hard to deal with, consult a counselor for assistance.
Remember, there is nothing wrong with needing counseling. If you had the flu or cut your hand and needed stitches, you would go to the doctor. If you need some help with mood, behavior or feelings, consult a professional counselor. You will be glad that you did.
Author bio: Jessica Alan is a guidance counselor earning a counseling masters degree online while working fulltime.