According to Psychology Today, “humans have as many as 25,000 to 50,000 thoughts each day.” That is A LOT of thinking, and it is these thoughts that establish your perspective on life. It is essential to have both positive and negative thoughts, but when there is an imbalance between the positive and negative, things like depression and anxiety can occur. A therapist is a powerful resource you can tap into to help you navigate your thousands of thoughts and create a positive perspective! Here’s 5 reasons you should find a therapist TODAY.
Millions of Americans can benefit from seeing a therapist, but for one reason or another they don't. Those who finally do decide to find a therapist usually wait until things get really bad. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, there are over 43 millions adults (18% of the population!) suffering from mental illness. That is 1 in every 5 people.
The sad part about this is that the statistics for teens and kids suffering from mental illness don’t fall far from the numbers for adults. One in every 5 teens also suffers from mental illness.
As a mother, as a psychotherapist, and as a human being, reading these statistics brings tears to my eyes. I felt compelled to write about this because I wanted those of you who are suffering quietly to know that there are many incredible professionals out there who can help and support you. If you’re thinking, “Well, therapy is expensive,” you aren’t wrong. Yes, it can be, but there are also many places where you can get support for a very low fee. Also, I will let you in on a small secret that few know: Many therapists are willing to be flexible. If money is the only thing stopping you from seeing someone, I urge you to not let that deter you.
Mental health illnesses affect us all because even if you yourself aren’t suffering, you inevitable know someone who is. So it’s important to educate ourselves about the mental illnesses that are affecting millions of people and be aware of risk factors and signs. There are always ways for you to get involved either by helping someone you know who is need of a therapist or learning about ways that you can help with the promotion of wellness and the prevention of mental illness. You might not suffer from mental illness today, but you must know at least one person who does and can use some support. Am I right?
If you relate to any of the below signs or notice that they apply to someone you know, it’s time to find a therapist.
# 1 You Feel Alone or Isolated
If you are feeling alone or isolated and this is something that is out of the norm for you, then I suggest that you find a therapist. Many people feel isolated and don’t know what to do about it. Sometimes these feelings are precipitated by a traumatic event. Other times, you have no idea why you suddenly started having these feelings. After my miscarriages, I felt sad and all I wanted to do was isolate myself and not see anyone. Of course, dealing with something like a miscarriage is going to make you feel sad, but at the time, I didn’t realize that there were other more healthy ways to cope with my feelings -- besides shutting everyone out. I remember feeling so alone and refused to let anyone try to help me. I actually thought about asking a friend to help me find a therapist, but I was too sad to do anything about it. Looking back, I wish that I reached out to a professional for help because it would have reduced the time that I isolated myself from the world. It was such a lonely time for me.
Whether you know the cause of your lonely feelings or this is something that is new to you, I want you to know that you don’t have to continue to suffer quietly..
#2 You Are Having Negative Thoughts
While negative thoughts can be productive at times, they might also lead us to act in destructive ways and leave us feelings down. You might not be aware, but your negative thoughts affect the way that you are feeling, which in turn affects your behavior. First, it might be helpful to define what healthy thinking is. Healthy thinking will allow you to know the difference between what is helpful to you and what is not. With healthy thinking, you are able to problem solve. Positive thinking is a different way of looking at healthy thinking where your thoughts can keep you happy, but at times this is unrealistic. It is important to have both negative and positive thinking but if you find yourself thinking negatively for long periods of times and you are not able to shift your thoughts into positive more productive thoughts, that’s when it becomes problematic. From years of working with clients who struggle with negative thinking and helping them redirect their thoughts, I found that when people stop the negativity, they are able to better care for themselves and handle life challenges. People also feel much better emotionally and physically.
The good news about both healthy thinking or positive thinking is that with practice, you can learn to think in a more constructive way that will encourage you instead of constantly battling negative thoughts that leave you feeling discouraged all the time. According to Psychology Today, humans have as many as 25,000 to 50,000 thoughts each day and the nature of those thoughts will eventually make up your outlook on life. They found that it is important to have both positive and negative thoughts, and that using them properly is of utmost importance. Working with a professional to reduce your negative thoughts will allow you to better care for yourself and handle life challenges in a better more effective way.
# 3 You’re Going Through Some Big Life Changes and Need Support
Life changes, whether big or small, affect different people in different ways. Sometimes when you are going through major life changes you think that you are the only one who is going through such events. But the truth is, many other people are most likely going through similar changes, and even just knowing this fact can help and support you in different ways. While some people feel that they continue functioning well after big life events, others might need more guidance and support. Big life changes can include events like marriage, giving birth, or the death of a loved one. I found that people often don't know what to do and what to say when they need help.
After I moved to the United States from Israel at the age of 20, I had to adjust to a whole other culture and language, and I was also struggling with eating disorder. This major life event in my life actually accelerated my eating disorder and caused me a great deal of distress. I am not sure if at the time I knew that I needed professional support or how to find a therapist in my area, but looking back I wish I reached out for support from either a friend or a professional. I hope that if you are reading this and feel that you or someone you love who is going through some life changes and needs some professional support, you will know that there are professionals out there who can help and support you through this process. You are not alone.
# 4 You Feel Anxious or Depressed
The most common psychological disorder in the US is Anxiety Disorder, with over 40 million adults over 18 suffering. I am not going to bore you with the different psychological disorders, but I do think it’s noteworthy that there are 12 anxiety disorder that share features of excessive fear and anxiety and behaviors that are related. The five most common anxiety related disorders that are also associated with immense healthcare costs are panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, and separation anxiety disorder.
Let’s focus on generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) because it is the simplest form of anxiety to understand and I can make my point using this example. In order for anyone to be diagnosed with GAD they need to have excessive anxiety and worry about a number of events or activities. You might wonder what distinguishes GAD from non pathological anxiety. The simplest answer to this is to ask yourself whether the anxiety interferes with your everyday life and prevents you from doing what you are suppose to do -- like working, socializing, eating, etc. If you wanted to know the exact criteria that a therapist will use to diagnose you with GAD, you you will have to have the following:
Excess of anxiety and worry for more days than not for at least six months
2. Difficulty controlling the worry
3. The anxiety or worry are associated with at least three of the following symptoms:
-Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
-Being Easily fatigued
4. Important areas of functioning such as social and occupational are affected by the anxiety or worry in a clinically significant way.
5. The anxiety is not attributed to medical issues or substance use.
6. The disturbance is not better explained by another disorder.
If you find this a bit confusing, then don't worry as once you meet with a mental health professional they will help you with the diagnosis. I am only giving you a bit of information so you can have a sense of how a disorder is diagnosed. If you want to know how to find a therapist for your depression or anxiety don’t hesitate to ask someone for advice.
# 5 You Feel Out of Control
From time to time we all feel like we lose control of our thoughts and actions, but then we can bring ourselves back to a place where we feel like we have power over what we are doing. When you can’t return to this place of control, that’s when it becomes a serious issue. Losing control of your thoughts and actions can be expressed in many ways, and it can be quite dangerous. Lots of things can trigger these feelings and it’s important to understand why we feel like we do. This is where a therapist can really help you. Feeling like you don’t have control over your mind is a scary feeling and often one we can’t really describe but if you feel like you can’t move forward, you need to reach out for help.
I hope that reading this has inspired you to think critically about whether you could benefit from a therapist. I suggest reaching out and at least exploring the options that are available to you. Reaching out doesn't always mean that you will find a psychologist the same day, but at least you are taking a step towards a happier, more fulfilling life for you or your loved one.