You do not have to be “losing your mind” or be in crisis to seek help for your mental health. Life is stressful, and sometimes we can all use help to feel good and find joy again. Here are nine common signs that you should seek mental health counseling:
Feeling strong emotions
Emotions can become overwhelming, and at times, you may not recognize them. You may be getting angry or frustrated easily and are “snapping” at others or situations that seem to be out of your control. The emotion of shame is also common in our culture, including feelings of worthlessness and putting yourself down. Guilt is another emotion that we all try to avoid. Guilt is feeling like you have done something wrong or you can’t ever please the people who put demands on you. Shame and guilt can prevent us from getting what you want out of life.
Trauma, past or present
Trauma comes in many different forms. You may think that your trauma is in the past, or that you are dealing with your current distress, but what you may be doing is avoiding processing your strong emotions (anger, depression, anxiety) they keep resurfacing, while affecting your relationships with others. These emotions cause behaviors that take a toll on relationships, work, and daily functioning.
Substance, food or behavioral addictions
Most individuals who have addictive behaviors downplay its severity. Why? Because additions have short-term relief for long-term and recurrent pain. So why would someone want to give up something that works to alleviate suffering? Hence, additions and lying go hand-in-hand. As you know, tolerance develops, and you begin to need more of the substance or behavior to get the same effects. The long-term consequences of addictions are numerous, including, loss of normal functioning, poor physical health, loss of relationships, loss of work, diminishing self-worth, and guilt.
Chronic physical pain
Many people do not realize that physical and psychological pain affect the same brain regions and physical injury or malfunction. The means, regardless of whether the source is, biogenic, psychogenic, or both, your pain is real. If your pain issues are not getting resolved after seeing the doctor, several specialists, or even surgery, you may want to consider how the effects of stress or trauma are manifesting as physical pain.
Losing a loved one, a job, or a way of life has an unexpected way of affecting us, and you may not be prepared for this dramatic life change. Holding onto pain and grief can materialize later in forms of relational issues and emotional problems.
Loss of interest in doing things
When you can’t get off the couch or get out of bed to do even simple things, like getting dressed and tidying up, you are experiencing symptoms of depression. Untreated depression can become chronic, which will affect your physical health and reduce the ability to find joy and pleasure in life.
Isolating yourself from being in a public place or at social events are symptoms of trauma, depression, and anxiety. Social anxiety is when you are worried about what others think of you, so you avoid being around others. Repeated avoidance can lead to panic attacks, thus affecting daily functioning.
Not being able to relax (hypervigilance) is a protective behavior that is typically a result of traumatic experiences. This type of anxiety can become overwhelming, leading to addiction or the need for prescribed medications. Using either substance or medications helps temporarily, but there are side effects, and they won’t work forever. Strong emotions such as anxiety are messengers, and you need to give it your attention, especially its cause. Substance and medications shut down the messengers, but they never completely go away.
If you are having problems with your relationships, especially family members, it can be frustrating. You want to get away from them, but at the same time, you don’t. At times you may feel that you are blaming others for your behaviors, and sometimes you may feel trapped. Whatever your relational issues are, trying to get the other person to change usually becomes a futile effort. Changes happen when you can begin to develop intrapersonal insight into how you are affected by all your relationships.
Catherine G. Cleveland is a mental health counselor and owner of Cleveland Emotional Health. Catherine specializes in the treatment of trauma and chronic pain. For more information go to: clevelandemotionalhealth.com.Click here to make an appointment.