How to Know When to Seek Therapy
How to Know When to Seek Therapy
People often wonder. When does it make sense to begin therapy? Therapists use two primary reasons to see if treatment would be recommended. We call it level of distress and impairment in functioning. The simple translation for you is how upset do you feel about what you are experiencing, and how much is the anxiety or depression getting in the way of things you want to do (hobby, spending time with others) or need to do (school or work).
It is very normal to have some anxiety with changes in your own or your loved ones lives. Common symptoms of anxiety, like worry or a feeling of nervousness, or physical symptoms are common in life, and especially under times of stress. Remember changes can feel good and bad at the same time and may require some time to adjust to. One thing to keep in mind is that stress and sadness can sometimes change with a bit of time and perspective.
When people are under stress or down, many start by talking to their family and friends. They also use their own coping skills to help with their anxiety or depression like exercising, eating well, and sleeping regularly. These activities alone have been shown to improve mood and anxiety. There are also quite a lot of good self-help books, webinars, and support groups (including many on this website) that may help address what you are feeling. If the feeling of nervousness, worry or sadness continues, happens a lot, or is very intense, it is important to address with treatment. If you personally feel that coping is just too hard for you, that can be a good reason as well. Or if you do not have a support network you can talk to or talking has not been helpful
For depression, we often recommend if you have been feeling down most of the time for 2 weeks or more, this is a reason to seek help. Other people do not feel down for days at a time, but instead have a longer-term pattern of bad days, weeks or years. When you are feeling down, you often pull back from your activities and things you enjoy, or withdraw from people. This is a problem because it makes you feel more down and alone. Seek help if you notice these patterns, and you cannot shift the mood on your own.
Both anxiety and depression can get in the way of sleep and can show up in physical symptoms like headaches and stomachaches or other physical experiences (like heart racing, sweating, shortness of breath). If these are common for you, it can be another reason to seek treatment. Many people become fearful of these experiences and can begin to avoid places or things which makes their world smaller.
Remember you know you best. If you are not coping the way you usually do, it can be helpful to go to therapy to get things back on track. It is really never too early to go to therapy if you are experiencing anxiety or depression. You might just have different needs or goals if you go at the beginning of your difficulties compared to dealing with them for a long time. Sometimes therapy is easier and shorter if the symptoms have not been around for a long time. But it is also never too late to seek treatment even if you have suffered for a long time. Lastly, if you feel you have not allowed yourself to try things that you have wanted to try, or if decisions in your life are based on anxiety rather than your own preferences, then that is a reason to seek out treatment. There are clear and useful treatments out there that work if you are willing to do your part. You can and deserve to feel better.
Life choices should not be based on anxiety, fear or sadness but on the life you want to have.
How to know when to go to treatment:
- Anxiety and depression symptoms can be very normal with life changes or challenges
- Ok to wait a bit and monitor how you feel
- Try to eat and sleep well and exercise- can help a lot
- Try to use your coping skills and self-help options
But you know you - if you are not feeling yourself trust that it's a good enough reason to start treatment.
These might be reasons for treatment:
- It's never too early to go for treatment
- Physical symptoms common in anxiety and depression
- Not being able to do what you want to do or need to do because of how you feel
- Not being able to make life choices you want because of fear
Treatment works and you deserve the full and rich life that you want.