Seven Signs That You Need to See a Mental Health Professional
By LAURA L. SMITH, PH.D.
Everyone has bad days. And many have bad weeks. But when feeling depressed, stressed, or anxious stretches out over a period of several weeks and begins to interfere with daily life, then mental health professionals may need to be involved. Here are some signs that you or someone you care about need evaluation and possibly treatment:
1. Suicidal thoughts or plans. If you start thinking that life is not worth living, help is available. You can call your national suicide hotline (see important links thread) or a local mental health center. If you are aware of someone else who has thoughts of suicide, the hotline can advise you of what action you should take.
2. Feeling defeated and hopeless. Life can be tough. But if you feel that there is nothing to look forward to and hopeless, a mental health professional may be able to help you see other possibilities.
3. Unable to work or play because of overwhelming emotional distress. Again, bad times and bad things happen and when they do, people need time to grieve or regroup. But if you seem unable to adjust or adapt, a mental health professional may be able to give you a different perspective.
4. Changes in sleep. Everyone has occasional problems with sleep. But if you experience a significant change in your patterns, check it out with your medical provider who may refer you to a therapist experienced with sleep disorders (be sure to ask).
5. Changes in appetite. Again, first check with your medical provider. But many times, experienced mental health professionals work with clients who have problems with eating.
6. Changes in mood that last for longer than a few weeks. If you struggle with feelings of sadness, anger, or anxiety, help is available. You might first check with your physician to rule out physical reasons, then ask for a referral to a qualified mental health provider.
7. Lack of interest and withdrawal. If you find yourself losing interest in activities that were once pleasurable or withdrawing because of fears or worries, you may benefit from professional help. One final
tip: Not all mental health professionals have expertise in all types of problems. Therefore, be sure to state the nature of your problem as specifically and clearly as you can when you call. Ask if your problem is something the therapist works with regularly. Good luck and take care!