Coping with Life: Warning Signs You Need to See a Therapist

At some point in life, we all run into trying times. Whether you’re overloaded with stress, suffering a trauma, or just dealing with the complexities of day-to-day existence, life isn’t always a bed of roses. And it’s easy to slip into feelings—and behaviors—that are outside your normal patterns. Sometimes, you can get past those bumps in the road on your own. Other times, those bumps seem more like mountains and you need a professional to help you work through things.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, roughly one out of five Americans suffers from some type of mental illness. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of those actually get the treatment they need.

Therapy is Not Taboo

Believe it or not, a lot of people still feel that getting therapy is taboo, something “normal” people should steer clear of, something that proves they’re crazy or demonstrates that they’re simply not capable of handling life. Others believe therapy is a waste of time and money.

The truth is that therapy is none of the above. It’s actually a beneficial resource that has helped millions of individuals get back on track after dealing with overwhelming life events. Just about anyone who’s done it will tell you that avoiding a problem tends to make things worse. Getting help is the best thing you can do for yourself. You’d see a doctor if you had the flu or a more serious condition such as heart trouble or diabetes, right? Getting help for a mental health issue is just as important.

Recognizing When Professional Help is Best

When you’re in the midst of experiencing mental distress, it can often be difficult to know exactly when you need help. It all starts with knowing yourself. Are you behaving differently than usual? Is your depression having a negative impact on your life? If so, it’s time to get help. Below are a few other warning signs that it may be time to reach out to a professional:

  1. Your Feelings Have Intensified – We all have strong feelings. But if your feelings have gotten to the point where they’re hindering your ability to properly function, make the call. Do you get so angry that you seriously consider harming someone else or yourself? Do you always assume that worst? Do you find yourself stuck thinking over and over and over about negative things that have happened? Again, it’s time to make the call.
  2. You’ve Recently Suffered a Trauma – Whether it was a death in the family, being the victim of a violent crime, or a significant breakup, if it’s gotten you to the point where you can’t think about anything else, speak to a therapist. If you realize that you’re no longer engaging in activities that used to bring you pleasure or you’re withdrawing from others, the traumatic event may be getting to you more than you though.
  3. Your Health is AffectedStress can have a significant effect on your body. An overwhelming amount of stress can manifest itself in various ways. This can include unexplainable headaches, stomach aches, a diminished sex drive, unexplained body aches, or frequent illness which may be caused by a diminished immune system.
  4. You’ve Begun Using Substances to Cope – While a glass of wine at the end of the day is usually nothing to worry about, if you’ve begun using substances to mask your pain, it’s time to seek help. What starts off as an occasional bender can easily turn into a full-on addiction. Keep in mind that addictions aren’t always limited to drugs or alcohol. Many people try to cope with their problems by smoking, overeating, or undereating.
  5. Your Professional Relationships are Suffering –  Changes in your ability to perform your job effectively are a common sign of some type of emotional distress. If you’ve been receiving negative feedback from your coworkers, your boss, or even your direct reports, this is a good time to talk to a therapist.
  6. Personal Relationships are Suffering – Are you arguing with your significant other more than usual, withdrawing from normal activities, or finding yourself unable to ask for help, therapy is a good option. Another warning sign would be if a loved one actually approached you and expressed his or her concerns.


Finding a Therapist

If you’ve come to the conclusion that finding a therapist is the best course of action, you’ll need to choose wisely. There are various professionals that can help you depending upon the types of concerns you have. suggests that as you seek the right professional you keep certain factors in mind, including: location, references, their professional focus, and the types of approaches they use in therapy. Having a consultation or trial visit is best to determine whether or not they are a good fit for you.

Life is certainly full of surprises, and it throws curveballs at us all the time. While feelings of sadness, anger, and grief are common, when they reach a point that they’ve changed the quality of your life, it’s time to reach out for help. Getting help doesn’t mean that you’re crazy or incapable of handling stressful situations. It simply means that you care about yourself and want to do what’s best.


Armin Brott

View posts by Armin Brott
Armin Brott is the proud father of three, a former U.S. Marine, a best-selling author, radio host, speaker, and one of the country’s leading experts on fatherhood. He writes frequently about fatherhood, families, and men's health. Read more about Armin or visit his website, You can also connect via social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest,  and Linkedin.
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