7 signs you should talk to a therapist

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It is difficult to know if the thoughts, feelings and behaviors you are experiencing are normal. It can also be difficult to admit that you could benefit from professional help.

It is not always clear whether you should speak to a therapist. But there are signs that talking to a professional might be a good choice. Here are seven signs you might want to talk to a therapist:

1. Your symptoms are interfering with your work

Difficulty concentrating, having trouble dealing with your emotions at work, or a sharp drop in productivity can be signs of a mental health problem.

Whether you’re more stressed than usual or just feeling a little exhausted, reduced performance in the office can be a sign of emotional distress.

2. Your mood is “off”

It is normal to feel a little “off” sometimes. You will have difficult times where you will sometimes feel sad or anxious. But any change in mood that lasts longer than two weeks should be taken into account.

This is especially true when you don’t have an explanation for the change in mood.

3. Your sleeping habits have changed

From sleepless nights that leave you exhausted to sleep for more hours than you should, your sleep patterns say a lot about your sanity.

It’s a two-way street. Your psychological well-being can impact your ability to sleep (and wake up feeling great). On the flip side, your sleep schedule will also affect your mental health.

Talking to someone can address underlying mental health issues that contribute to sleep problems or can help you avoid insomnia. Studies show that cognitive behavioral therapy is particularly effective in overcoming insomnia.

4. Your psychological health affects your physical health

Many physical aches and pains, such as headaches and stomach aches, can stem from mental health issues.

Of course, it is important to see your doctor if you have any physical health problems to rule out any medical problems first. If your doctor determines that there are no known medical causes, you may be referred to a therapist.

Anxiety, depression, and emotional distress can cause a host of physical symptoms. Treatment can help you feel better, both physically and emotionally.

5. You are experiencing unexplained weight changes

Stress and emotional distress cause some people to overeat. Others completely lose their appetites. Even if you’re looking forward to a slightly slimmer waistline, don’t ignore changes in appetite or weight.

It could be a sign of a mental health problem, such as depression. Treatment may help you feel better.

6. You use unhealthy coping skills

Negative thoughts, uncomfortable emotions, and self-harming behaviors can lead you to adopt unhealthy coping skills, such as overeating or drinking.

Keep in mind that almost any coping skill can turn out to be unhealthy. Sleeping to escape your problems or reading for endless hours so as not to have to deal with your emotions could also introduce new problems into your life (or make existing ones worse).

7. Your relationships are affected by your emotional state

Your personal or professional relationships can suffer when you are not feeling your best. You might find yourself angry with your partner, isolating yourself from your friends, or rehashing the same issues over and over again with your family.

It’s hard to maintain healthy relationships when you don’t feel good on the inside. If you feel disconnected from people, or if other people are pointing out to you that you just don’t look alike, you might want to talk to a therapist.

How to talk to someone

You might be tempted to wait and see if you start to feel better on your own so that you don’t have to call a therapist. But if your distress doesn’t improve within two weeks, contact a mental health professional.

Remember, talking to a mental health professional is not a sign of weakness. It takes a lot more strong minded admit that you don’t have all the answers than to pretend you have it all together when you don’t.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to see someone in person. You can connect with an online therapist if you prefer to talk to someone through messaging, phone, or video chat.

To find a therapist, visit Psychology Today’s Therapy Directory.

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