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What to Know If You're Considering Therapy

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Going to a doctor when you have a cold is common practice. While engaging in therapy is sometimes stigmatized, seeking help from a mental health professional is just as “normal” as a trip to the dentist.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, it may be time to consider setting an appointment with a mental health care provider:

1. Mood shifts.
Feeling anxious or sad to the point where you may struggle to complete daily tasks.

2. Sleep irregularity.
This may be trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up on time.

3. Low-energy or lethargy.
Feelings of sluggishness which affect your ability to get through the day.

4. Anhedonia.
Decreased interest in activities you normally enjoy.

5. Appetite decrease or increase.
Noticeable shift in regular eating habits.

6. Self-blame.
Feelings of failure as if you’ve let down yourself or others.

7. Difficulty concentrating.
Struggling to focus on tasks at work, school, or home.

8. Irritability.
Getting increasingly frustrated very easily and having challenges controlling anger.

9. Thoughts of self-harm or suicidal ideation.
Thoughts of harming yourself or taking your own life.

If you don’t feel safe, you should immediately contact National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or your nearest emergency room.

Therapy is helpful to everyone. Whether they experience a major loss, trauma or experience the regular stressors of everyday life, here are a few of the benefits of going to therapy:

1. You will have a safe space to talk freely with no judgment.

2. No competition for attention! Therapists do not discuss themselves, their issues or minimize your challenges.

3. Objective viewpoints. Loved ones are a valuable support system, but their opinions are inherently biased. A licensed mental health professional offers an unbiased perspective on all disclosed issues.

4. Healthy coping strategies. Sometimes, maladaptive behaviors (substance abuse, overspending, self-harm, etc.) develop because they temporarily help you survive an ordeal. But, over time, unhealthy responses may generate problems of their own. Therapy can provide new skills to move forward in life.

5. Therapy provides the chance to process past and present experiences that may prevent you from moving forward in life.

6. Therapy has no set timeline and ends whenever you want.

Investing in yourself is necessary to live a fulfilling life. Being aware of how you’re feeling and acknowledging the need for support is part of that process. If you find yourself experiencing difficult symptoms, connecting with a therapist may help you on your way toward the life you want. While the first step to connect may be difficult, you’re worth it.

For more from Lillyana Morales, check out her website.

Photo by shannon VanDenHeuvel on Unsplash

Originally published: November 14, 2019
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