Most people believe that psychotherapy is reserved only for individuals who are experiencing extreme levels of dysfunction in their lives. But what about those individuals who are able to function “normally” in every day life, yet still have that feeling that something is not quite right? Below is a list of not-so-obvious signs that you may benefit from talking with a professional psychotherapist.
*Please note that these are not the only signs that indicate an individual should seek the help of a mental health professional.
1. You have trouble sleeping at night due to racing thoughts about your past and/or your future.
Let me set the stage: You head to bed early as an attempt to get some solid sleep, you slowly watch the minutes and hours tick by as you review everything you need to get done the next day while you simultaneously contemplate everything you did wrong in the past 6-10 years, and before you know it, the clock reads 4:26am, you’re exhausted, but you’re wide awake, and you have to be up for work in 2 hours. This is one of those very frustrating yet all too common situations, and if it’s occurring on a regular basis, it may be time to talk to a professional. Not only will therapy help you get to the root of your anxious thoughts, you’ll also learn tools and techniques to manage them, and will be on your way to getting a good night’s sleep.
2. You’ve experienced a major life event (move to a new city, break-up or divorce, job loss, etc.) and 3-6 months later, are still struggling to adjust.
It’s normal for an individual to need some time to adjust after experiencing a major life change. But when that period of time seems to be taking too long, feels unbearable, or is starting to impact other areas of your life (such as your performance at work, or quality of your relationships) it may be time to talk with a professional in order to process what has happened and move forward.
3. It seems as if everyone is moving forward in their lives, and you feel like you’re being left behind.
The social clock is a real phenomenon. It is the unspoken timeline created by society that tells you when major life events are expected to occur, such as getting married, having kids, or moving up in your career. If you are finding that many people in your social circle are starting to experience these major life events and you feel “a certain kind of way” about it, you could benefit from talking it out with an objective professional. A psychotherapist can help you feel more at peace with where you are in your life right now, and remind you that the only person you need to be comparing yourself to is yourself.
4. Friends and/or family members have recommended you talk to a professional.
This one is huge. Your support network knows you best, and if the most important people in your life are suggesting you talk to a therapist, it’s probably because:
A) They want what is best for you.
B) You’ve talked their ears off about a certain issue and they don’t know what to do to help.
C) They themselves have been to therapy and know firsthand how beneficial it can be.
D) All of the above.
5. You feel isolated or alone.
Single, married, wanting to be in a relationship, or not – it doesn’t matter – loneliness is part of the human experience, and we’ve all been there. A psychotherapist can support you as you move through these uncomfortable emotions and help you to uncover ways to cope when they do arise.
6. You find yourself turning to alcohol, drugs, or engaging in other unhealthy behaviors quite frequently, and it’s creating more harm than good.
It’s one thing to go out to a bar with friends on a Saturday night, or have a glass of wine at dinner, but it is another to be binge drinking several nights (or more) each week. This could be an indication that you are numbing some kind of pain or insecurity through self-medication, and although it may feel good in the moment, these actions could result in damaged relationships, health issues, and other long-term consequences.
7. You feel stuck.
You’re bored with your same routine but don’t know what to do to change things up. Life seems fine on the surface, but you have this nagging feeling that it could be better – whether it be with your job, your relationship, your family, or your friendships. A psychotherapist can help you to determine your goals and figure out what you need to do in order to reach them.
Everyone can reap the benefits of therapy at some point in their lives, and seeking help is by no means a sign of weakness or evidence of any shortcomings; it is a brave action one takes to gain self-awareness, practice self-care, and improve quality of life.
See below for a cute and entertaining, yet accurate explanation of what therapy is, and why it can be so helpful.