Humans are social creatures. Beyond needing food, water and friendly interactions, we’re designed to seek support from others to get through the challenges in life. If you feel as though you’re going through everything alone, it might be time to reach out for help.
Anyone can benefit from mental health support services ranging from self-care check-ins to rehabilitative programming. Here are seven signs it’s time to seek professional support to start moving forward in a healthy way.
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You Depend on Substances
Recognizing substance dependency in oneself can be challenging. There’s a lack of self-awareness and plenty of stigma surrounding addictions and substance abuse, which limits people from recognizing when they need help.
According to the team at Alta Loma, providers of Mental Health Treatment in Texas, substance dependency often starts as a form of self-medication. While self-medicating is incredibly common and often socially accepted (for example, drinking away a stressful week at work), it can quickly become a problem. Many people self-medicate instead of dealing with the root of the issue, whether it’s a mental health disorder or a stressful event or situation.
Unfortunately, many people are struggling with substance dependency stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Binge drinking increased by 21% during the early days of the pandemic, and the long-term effects are expected to add thousands of alcohol-related deaths that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise.
If you’ve noticed an increase in your substance use or can’t go without, it’s time to reach out for support.
You’ve Experienced a Trauma
The long-term effects of a traumatic event are insidious, and often difficult to detect or link to the event. You may experience mood and behavior changes, an inability to focus, social isolation, and a plethora of other negative impacts caused by the experience.
It’s important to understand that a traumatic event isn’t necessarily an accident or something dangerous. Things like discovering your partner cheating on you, losing a job, or experiencing the loss of a loved one can be traumatic. You can even experience trauma from something that hasn’t happened directly to you but impacts your culture or sense of self. Many people of color have experienced racial trauma and generational trauma, while tragedies like 9/11 or the pandemic put people in a state of collective trauma.
If there’s something that’s divided your life into a before and after, and you struggle to process it, it’s time to reach out for support.
You’re Not Yourself
Sometimes the effects of mental illness are subtle, which is one reason why mental health misdiagnosis occurs. There might not be a significant event in your life that fits under the umbrella of trauma. Sometimes, things just change within.
If you’re not feeling like yourself, and the things that once brought you joy no longer do, you may be experiencing depression. There could also be other chemical changes happening within you that are altering your behavior. If you find yourself pulling back from your people or feeling disconnected, consider reaching out for professional guidance.
You’re Experiencing Dark Thoughts
Adjacent to not feeling like yourself, if you notice that you’re developing dark or intrusive thoughts, seek help immediately. If you have thoughts of ending your life, reach out to a crisis line.
You Can’t Talk to Family or Friends
Sometimes you just need a third-party; an unbiased opinion to help you navigate interpersonal relationships and life events. You may determine that it’s time to let go of things that happened in the past or that you need help setting boundaries in relationships.
Whatever the case, it’s beneficial to have someone with psychological experience to help you navigate the road ahead without preconceived notions about situations or other people in your life. There’s value in having a safe space to learn coping skills, even if there’s nothing dire or debilitating going on.
Your Life Is Changing
Everyone experiences transitional periods in their lives — it’s a part of being human. We tend to think of needing professional support for negative events and happenings. However, positive events can be incredibly stressful as well. For example, events like getting married, having a baby, starting a new career, going to university, or moving to a new home are amazing life events that are still stressors on the body and mind.
Working with a professional counselor or therapist can help you navigate these situations while managing your stress. Remember that your body can’t differentiate positive stress from negative stress. Training your mind to recognize the differences and putting coping strategies in place can be advantageous.
You’re Concerned About a Loved One
It’s also worth reaching out to a professional for support if someone you care about seems to be struggling. If you’re worried about a loved one’s substance use or behavior changes, talking to a professional can help you navigate the situation without causing damage. While you can’t force someone to seek help for themselves, you can work with a professional to determine how you can be supportive and guide them in the right direction.
It’s ok to need professional help. Reaching out for support doesn’t make you weak; it makes you strong. If you’re experiencing any of these issues, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional for guidance.