While the jury’s still out for many of you on whether you want to commit to taking medication to deal with your depression or anxiety, I imagine we’re all on the same page when it comes to therapy: it’s really quite good.
If you’re here, you’re probably already on your way to getting therapy or at the very least considering it to help deal with your mental health struggles. And that’s AMAZING – because the first step to recovering is recognising that you might need a little extra help.
Signs you need therapy: How do you know when to see a therapist?
If you’re here, you might be wondering whether YOU need therapy.
The answer is probably “yes” (I’ll explain) but let me break it down for you.
#1. You’re a human being
I’m going to start off with a really obvious one because I feel like I do need to say this: anyone and everyone can benefit from some sort of talking therapy.
We all suffer from very real problems and most of us struggle with processing stress.
Considering stress is f***ing deadly, I’d say it’s a good idea that we all get better equipped at dealing with it.
Therefore, even if you don’t suffer with depression or anxiety, I’d recommend at least giving counselling a go.
However, considering you’re on my blog, unfortunately, I imagine you do suffer from depression or anxiety. So, let’s move on.
#2. You’re dealing with symptoms of depression and/or anxiety
I know right? No s***, honey!
But if you suffer with symptoms of depression and/or anxiety, therapy can go a long way towards dealing with those in a healthy way.
So many of us suffer in silence when talking about our problems and emotions can be immensely freeing and greatly relieve some of the symptoms.
Talking with an impartial professional, venting, and learning healthy coping mechanisms, as well as getting your feelings validated can be so helpful.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Low mood
- Sleeping too little or not enough
- A change in appetite (you either want to eat the entire fridge or nothing at all)
- Feeling “unwell”, achy, and lethargic
- Suicidal thoughts
Symptoms of anxiety include:
- A feeling of irrational unease and nervousness
- Feeling shaky and on-edge
- Quick to snap
- Trouble sleeping
- Racing thoughts
- Racing heart rate
- Trouble catching your breath
- A change in appetite
- Panic attacks
- Suicidal thoughts
I do want to point out that if you are suffering from suicidal thoughts or struggling with the urge to self-harm, please seek professional help immediately or call a hotline.
Don’t put off getting help or risk waiting too long to see a therapist. Get help now, please.
#3. You feel lonely
Feeling alone, even if there are people around you, is one of the worst feelings I’ve ever experienced.
Loneliness – like stress – has actually been proven to be deadly and is one of the definite signs you need therapy. Human beings need social interaction to survive.
Even us socially awkward introverts!
Being alone on your own terms in order to recharge your social batteries, think things over, deal with emotions in private, and generally just have some alone time to do whatever you want is great. I love it.
However, being alone because you have no choice or don’t feel as if you have anyone to turn to can be hazardous, especially if you already suffer from depression or anxiety.
Having someone to talk to not only provides you with that interaction, it gives you the confidence to go out there and meet new people. Or, perhaps helps you realise that maybe you weren’t as lone as you previously thought and pushes you to reconnect with those you already have around you.
#4. You’re struggling to process feelings and negative thoughts
Although I’m actually now pretty good at redirecting negative thoughts and turning them into more positive ones, I do still struggle with processing events, feelings, and emotions.
I’m a huge over-thinker and sometimes I get stuck on whether I should dwell on something – for example, an argument that’s been resolved – in order to process the hurt and anxiety surrounding stuff that was said (from both sides), or whether I should be redirecting that anxiety, rationalising that the argument has been resolved, and moving on.
This might be a sign you need therapy and why I’m still getting therapy to this day. I still have s*** I need to work on – we all do, I think.
If you struggle with processing feelings and negative thoughts, therapy can be really eye-opening for you. Not just during the therapy sessions themselves but for the rest of your life.
#5. You struggle with social anxiety
I’ve put social anxiety separately to “regular” anxiety because, while they do often go hand-in-hand, social anxiety is a different animal.
Talking therapy can help bring you out of your shell but facing another human being and talking about your feelings face-to-face can be daunting, which is why my socially anxious ass got online therapy before seeking a therapist in person.
I knew that if I booked a face-to-face appointment, the chances are, I would cancel at the last minute because I would get too anxious about leaving the house and speaking to a stranger. At least that’s how I saw it at the time.
Signing up to a service like Betterhelp, where you can talk with affordable, professionally trained therapists via your computer or phone can give you the social tools and confidence you need to get out there and tackle social situations head-on.
In the future, perhaps you will want to seek out one-on-one therapy in person. However, if that’s too much for you right now and you just want to get your foot in the door when it comes to getting help for your depression or anxiety, online therapy really is a great option.
#6. You’re finding yourself feeling overwhelmed and stressed
Whether you struggle with mental health issues or not, stress is mentally taxing and should be dealt with in a healthy way.
That’s NOT at the bottom of a wine bottle. (Don’t mind me, just calling myself out over here!)
Struggling to cope with stress is one of the first signs of you need therapy. Even if you’re just having a particularly rough time at work, school, college, or even at home, therapy can be really beneficial for you.
Talking therapy can help you vent and unload your problems to a trained professional, while CBT can help you learn how to deal with stress and cope in a healthy way.
#7. You’re suffering from panic attacks
If you get panic attacks or anxiety attacks, I probably don’t need to tell you what they feel like. How scary they are. How you feel like you can’t breathe. How you’re terrified that you’re going to die. How you feel like it’s never going to end.
I get it because, as you can probably tell, I’ve been there.
Fortunately, I can count the amount of panic attacks I’ve had – not including peaks in my anxiety – on less than two hands.
But that’s all I need to have suffered in order to know how debilitating they can be.
While there’s a chance that you’re already getting help for your panic attacks – as they can be so aggressive – if you’re not, please PLEASE seek professional help.
They can and do get better.
#8. You’ve experienced trauma
Past trauma, no matter what age we are when we suffer it, has a ripple effect throughout your life.
The emotions, triggers, and scars don’t just magically heal on their own. They stay with you. They morph and bend and break you. They evolve as you grow and the longer you go without healing them, the worse they usually get.
Therapy will help you work through past trauma in a neutral, safe environment, in your own time.
It will help you come to terms with past events and teach you how to move forward without letting said events have a negative impact on the rest of your life.
#9. You tend to isolate yourself
When I’m really unwell, I tend to isolate myself.
In fact, it’s one of the first signs that my mental health is spiralling and I need to speak with my therapist.
Half the time, I don’t even notice I’m doing it.
I sit in my room, unable to motivate myself to do anything or see anyone. I just want to be alone.
And it only makes my depression and anxiety worse.
As I said before, human beings, even us introverts, need some social stimulation. That’s just the way we are.
Getting out and seeing a therapist will help you see that and give you the tools you need to recognise when you’re isolating yourself.
#10. You have unhealthy coping mechanisms
Whether it’s drinking, smoking,, over-exercising, taking drugs, or isolating ourselves, many of us have unhealthy coping mechanisms when it comes to dealing with poor mental health.
While these coping mechanisms can feel as if they’re working at the time, they’re only making things worse long-term.
It’s up to you to be self-aware and to pick up on when something becomes a habit or crutch.
Therapy can then provide you with better coping mechanisms that don’t negatively affect your mental and physical health.
#11. You feel like you’re at the end of your tether
You’ve tried aromatherapy for depression and anxiety.
You’ve tried the medication the doctor prescribed you after one visit.
You’ve tried yoga, walking, ANY exercise to get your endorphins flowing.
You’ve tried eating a balanced, nutritious diet with the odd treat.
You’ve tried making time for self-care (maybe you’ve even read my ebook on it).
You’ve tried goal-setting, positive thinking, habit building.
You’ve meditated your ass off.
You’ve filled dozens of journals.
You’ve really tried to heal your mental health because you know you need to.
But nothing has worked and you feel like there’s nothing left to do.
Give therapy a go.
You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Types of therapy
Therapy comes in many forms from group therapy designed to deal with trauma, to EMDR (Eye movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing), which is usually used to treat PTSD.
However, the two most common – and usually most effective – types of therapy for dealing with depression and anxiety is CBT – Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – and talking therapy.
CBT works on reprogramming how you react to situations, events, feelings, and emotions, and provides you with positive, effective coping mechanisms going forward.
I’ve personally had quite a bit of experience with CBT and found it pretty life-changing when it comes to dealing with anxiety, particularly when it comes to redirecting negative, anxious thoughts and learning breathing techniques to deal with panic attacks.
Counselling is a type of talking therapy that’s excellent for dealing with anxiety and depression as it gives you an empathetic ear, someone to listen to you, and potentially give you healthy advice and support. You can even get affordable counselling online now through reputable services like Betterhelp, which provides you with a trained professional to talk through your problems.
Other types of therapy include:
- Client-Centered Therapy
- Existential Therapy
- Gestalt Therapy
- Psychoanalytic or Psychodynamic Therapy
- Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Therapy
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
- Anger Management
- And many, many more
What type of therapy you need depends on what mental health issues you’re dealing with, as well as which type of therapy would fit with your life and personality, but considering my blog is focused on depression and anxiety, CBT and counselling are the types of therapy I’m going to be talking about today.
Do I really need therapy?
I know this might all feel a little affronting.
Suddenly, some woman on some blog is telling you that you need to get therapy.
Obviously, whether you seek therapy or not is completely down to your and your circumstances.
However, I do think that pretty much everyone could benefit from talking therapy if it’s available to them. Stress is deadly and I don’t know a single person who doesn’t have to deal with it.
I also believe that we could all do with learning positive, healthy coping skills and how to process emotions in a productive way.
So, while you may not NEED therapy, you could definitely benefit from it.
Signs of a bad therapist
Finding the right therapist for you can take a while. Remember, they’re a human being as well and there’s a chance you won’t click with the first therapist you see – although of course it’s totally possible!
Don’t be afraid to ‘shop around’ and find a therapist who you click with.
However, not clicking with someone on a personal level isn’t the same as not meshing with your therapist on a professional level. They should always be professional.
Some of the signs of a bad therapist are:
- They seen disinterested
- They belittle your emotions, thoughts, worries, and problems
- Disrespecting your age, weight, mental illness, gender, Disability, race, sexuality, or religion
- Breaking confidentiality (your therapist has to keep everything said confidential unless you’re a danger to yourself or others or a crime has been committed)
- Blaming you for your problems or encouraging you to blame yourself
- Being insensitive
- Being suggestive or flirtatious
- Being on their phone or computer while you’re speaking
- Being overly familiar or over-stepping the mark with advice
- Pushing you to talk about a topic you’re not ready to talk about yet
- Not responding
If any of these occur or you’re uncomfortable with your therapist in the slightest, please don’t hesitate to look for someone new. This is about your mental health and there ARE good therapists out there.