“Do I need help?” That’s the question many people ask themselves when struggling with one emotional difficulty or another.
Contrary to popular belief, mental health support such as psychotherapy or counseling isn’t just for those suffering from a mental health condition like anxiety or depression. Therapy can benefit everyone in one way or another, whether through building communication skills, self-awareness, or helping a couple regain trust.
Below, we explore the types of mental health support available and the 10 signs you may need help.
Types of Mental Health Support
While counseling and psychotherapy have the same principle, they are slightly different - counseling involves sitting with a mental health professional called a ‘counselor’ and working together to help you figure out solutions to your problems. You can get various types of counselors, including:
- Family therapists
- Grief counselors
- Marriage/couples counselors
- Substance abuse counselors
The list could go on. But how does psychotherapy differ?
Psychotherapy tends to be a longer-term treatment approach. You work with your therapist to a better understanding of your internal workings - exploring your childhood (depending on the type of psychotherapy) and the impact it is now having on your thoughts and behaviors. The primary focus is on how your thought process is causing you difficulty in your everyday life.
In simple terms, counseling works more on present-day problems, whereas psychotherapy gets down deep to the root cause of the issues you’re experiencing. For a long-lasting change, psychotherapy may be the most beneficial approach.
When it comes to psychotherapy, there is a vast array of approaches - there isn’t just one to choose. Let’s explore these in more detail.
Some of the most commonly used approaches in psychotherapy are:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a more here-and-now approach that focuses less on the past and more on addressing your current maladaptive thoughts and behaviors. It’s often a short-term, solution-focused therapy approach.
- Psychodynamic Therapy: This approach is all about the past - it identifies how your past experiences are informing your thoughts and behaviors now, processing any adverse experiences to alter your thinking.
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT): ACT is an action-based psychotherapy approach that originated from CBT. It focuses on accepting your thoughts rather than avoiding or denying them, then committing yourself to change your coping strategies.
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): This talking therapy approach focuses on understanding your difficult emotions, learning how to manage them, and making healthy, positive changes.
The type of therapy you choose is entirely up to you - it’s based on personal preference. It may also depend on your exact difficulties. For example, CBT is generally recommended for those with anxiety and depression.
So, what are the signs you need support?
11 Signs I Need Mental Health Support
While the motivation for seeking mental health support varies significantly from person to person, there are some tell-tale signs that you can look out for that may indicate you need some external help.
Let’s get started!
#1 I Have Anxiety or Depression
Of course, receiving a diagnosis of anxiety or depression is one of the primary reasons people seek mental health support. This may be advised by their doctor or done off their own back.
Over 40 million US adults have an anxiety disorder, and 7% of children aged 3-17 suffer from an anxiety-related issue yearly . Similarly, around 20 million US adults have experienced at least one episode of major depression. These conditions aren’t uncommon.
However, these conditions will likely worsen if you don’t seek treatment. Therapy is a highly effective treatment method for both mental health concerns. Therefore, if you have anxiety or depression, this is the number 1 sign you should seek psychotherapy.
#2 I’m Withdrawing From My Friends & Family
Avoidance is a common symptom of distress and depression and involves staying away from situations, people, or places that trigger an unpleasant emotional response . Social withdrawal is a form of avoidance that many people with mental health concerns (namely, anxiety and depression ) use to help them cope with their emotional difficulties.
If you find yourself withdrawing from those you typically love to be around, such as your friends and family, it may be time to seek help.
#3 I’m Questioning Life’s Meaning
When you’re experiencing a mental health difficulty like anxiety or depression, you may question the meaning of life, asking yourself, “what am I really here?”
- Existential anxiety involves a sense of dread when thinking about life’s big questions, like the meaning of life and your role in it.
- Existential depression focuses on identifying why people feel pain and distress and why there are so many injustices in the world.
If you continually question life’s meaning, it’s wise to go to your doctor or a mental health professional for advice.
#4 I Can’t Get Motivated
It’s common to feel unmotivated when you’ve hit a snag or bump in the road. However, if this persists, it may signify anxiety or depression. Seeking therapy can help you to address the emotions and behaviors that are holding you back, helping you to regain momentum.
Evidence shows that therapy can help boost your energy levels, self-awareness, and motivation. It can also enhance your resilience in the face of life’s obstacles.
#5 I Can’t Help Overthinking
Perhaps you can’t stop obsessing over a thought you had or an action you took in the past - it may feel like it’s haunting you, causing you shame and embarrassment in the present.
Ruminating and overthinking is common in mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Therapy can help you to process these unexplored thoughts and feelings and put them to rest. You will also develop healthier coping strategies to reduce overthinking with your therapist.
#6 My Coping Strategies Aren’t Helping
Sometimes, we develop coping strategies that help us short term but are detrimental when we continue them for long periods. An example is safety behaviors in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Someone with a fear of contamination may wash their hands repeatedly throughout the day to calm their anxieties - this will provide temporary relief, but their anxiety will worsen over time.
It’s the same with other emotional difficulties - if you’re practicing maladaptive coping strategies, it’s essential to seek help, as a counselor can help you to identify your unhealthy behaviors and replace these with constructive ones.
#7 I Have No One To Talk To
Mental health conditions feel isolating. It may feel like you have no one to talk to. Perhaps you have people to talk to but feel embarrassed and ashamed of your emotions and thoughts, so keep it all inside.
If you’re not speaking to anyone about how you feel and your problems, therapy is an excellent space to discuss these. It can help you build the confidence to talk to your loved ones or give you a chance to process your difficult emotions.
#8 I’m Asking Myself, “Do I Need Help?”
If you’re asking yourself whether you need help, chances are you could benefit from mental health support. A common misconception is that counseling is only for those with a diagnosed mental health condition. Anyone can access therapy, regardless of the severity of their emotional difficulties.
Research repeatedly demonstrates that speaking about your problems and negative emotions with a trusted person can help you to heal in more ways than one. It can:
- Boost your immune system
- Lessen stress
- Reduce emotional and physical discomfort
#9 I’m Unhappy In My Relationship
If you’re unhappy in your relationship, you don’t need to suffer in silence. Seeking either individual or couple’s therapy can help you to work through the difficulties you’re experiencing in your relationship.
Therapy can help you form a better understanding of how your thoughts and behaviors are influencing your relationship. It will also enable you to build on your communication skills, which can help to lessen conflict and arguments in a relationship.
#10 I’m Experiencing a Medical Difficulty
Receiving a diagnosis for a medical condition can be extremely emotional. Furthermore, if you have suffered from a medical ailment throughout your life, this can wear you down and leave you feeling anxious or depressed.
While many people would consider going to a doctor in times of pain, very few think about the benefits of a therapist. Being psychologically unwell can affect your physical health . For example, anxiety and depression are related to a higher risk of:
- Poor diet
- Substance abuse
These may lead to medical conditions like asthma, a weakened immune system, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Therefore, if you feel that your medical difficulty may stem from negative emotions, seek help from a counselor.
The Bottom Line
Therapy isn’t just for those with anxiety and depression - it caters to a spectrum of emotional difficulties. Whatever approach you choose, therapy can help you better understand yourself, eliminate harmful coping strategies, and form better relationships with those around you.
Even if you’re unsure and ask yourself, “do I need help?” this is a sign you need support. What are you waiting for?