Life goes up and down. We all go through some really stressful times like job losses or relationship breakdowns, and some really upsetting events like losing a loved one. How do we know when it’s too much, though? When will we know if we need help? There are obvious signs like we are so sad and miserable, and don’t want to be here anymore, but is there some way we can recognize when we’re heading down that path and ask for help before we get to that point?
Yes. There are a few warning signs you can look into as hints that you need counseling due to your stressed nature. “Stress is a direct result of negative emotions that are out of control,” says stress consultant and life coach Elaine Sanders. Keep in mind that these signs don’t necessarily mean you are experiencing a diagnosable mental health disorder, but it is just an indication that you might benefit from therapy or support.
- A negative impact on your life such as routinely affecting your sleep, appetite, concentration, sex drive, relationships or work or school performance – you need help.
- Friends and family seem to be pulling away from you or you seem to be pulling away from them and not wanting to spend as much time with others, as you usually do.
- You’ve picked up some bad habits in an attempt to try and feel better. This isn’t just a bad habit, but more so abusing or using something in excess. This can range from alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs to other things such as food, social media or electronics.
- Everything you have tried is not helping at all.
- You have been through something traumatic and you can’t stop thinking about it.
- You seem to be getting run down or sick a lot lately.
- You’re not enjoying your hobbies as much as you used to.
What if I go see a psychologist and don’t have anything to diagnose?
“Stress is a fact of life, but being stressed out is not. We don’t always have control over what happens to us,” says Allen Elkin, Ph.D., director of the Stress Management Counseling Center in New York City. Psychologists and psychiatrists are there to help with your emotional and mental health. This also means helping people to develop skills and coping strategies. It can really be helpful to see a psychologist or a psychiatrist to learn some of these “skills” through sessions and avoid developing any “diagnosable” concerns in the future.
What if I start seeing a professional and it doesn’t seem to help?
Some people might start therapy and find that it just doesn’t work for them on whatever reason. They may find it hard to connect with the psychologist, or they may have disliked the techniques used. The most important thing to remember though is that everyone is different. “If you see stress as bad, catastrophic, and something you need to avoid at all costs, each time you get stressed, it’s going to have a very negative effect on you. If you see it as something that can make you more resilient, then you will experience it very differently.” says Tal Ben-Shahar, a positive psychology professor who, for many years, taught a popular course about how to get happy at Harvard University.
If you find that your mental health professional is not working for you, then, you should be vocal about it. With that, your psychologist will discuss your goals with you and fix their approach on something that is better suited for you. If for some reason you really don’t feel comfortable with your therapist, there are other mental health professionals that you can always go to. Whatever you do, don’t give up on looking for counseling services based on one not-so-good experience and once you find a good fit, you are likely to thrive.