Many people still believe that you have to be “crazy,” desperate or having a mental breakdown to seek the help of a therapist. What most people don’t realize is that there are certain emotional and relationship problems that you can’t fix on your own, nor can friends and family help you with. Many suffer in isolation when experiencing bouts of depression, anxiety, disillusionment or despair when they could benefit from just a handful of sessions. The stigma associated with mental illness still gets in the way of people seeking help for themselves or their relationship.
While there are many reasons that people seek therapy, here are a few of the signs you may need help:
#1 You aren’t able to shake feelings of “being down”
If you are barely getting through the day because of underlying feelings of sadness, anger or hopelessness, you are not alone. Depression starts as a feeling and then becomes a mood or even a temperament if not attended to in a timely fashion. Symptoms of depression include eating or sleeping more or less than usual, withdrawing from family and friends, or just feeling “down.” People find it increasingly difficult to be around you because they feel helpless to do anything for you.
#2 You use work to avoid relationships
You find yourself working long hours and using it as an excuse to not see friends or family. Being productive becomes the focal point of your life and you don’t like how you feel when you are not working. Everyone is complaining about your absences or when you show up late and don’t have any energy for them.
#3 You use drugs, alcohol, food or sex as a coping strategy.
Coping strategies are effective in the short term, but when you begin to depend on them to help you feel better, you need help resolving the underlying issues that are causing you to cope rather than thrive. The more you use them, the more difficult it is to stop, leading to negative consequences in your relationships, your work and in life in general.
#4 You can’t get past losing someone or something important to you.
Many people don’t allow themselves to grieve the loss of a loved one, a job or even an opportunity. Humans have a biological need to go through a grieving process and our culture tends not to honour this need. Psychotherapy can help you work through the grief process so that you are free to get back to your life.
#5 You haven’t dealt with past trauma.
While you may have survived your childhood, you are still using survival strategies and repeating relationship patterns that are associated with a traumatic childhood. Present trauma often triggers memories of past trauma and can be enough to disrupt your life.
#6 You are anxious most of the time.
Automatic negative thoughts have a way of generating fear and anxiety. Our brain doesn’t distinguish between what has happened from what we imagine could happen and our body reacts in a self-protective fashion. If you are limiting yourself in your career, relationships, travel, etc. because you imagine worst case scenarios and creating anxiety in yourself, psychotherapy can help.
#6 Your relationships are unfulfilling.
If you are fighting a lot without resolving conflict; if your sex life is unsatisfying or non-existent; if you feel lonely when you are with others, if you are belittled, abused or otherwise diminished by your partner, you don’t have to suffer alone. Hoping that it will stop only prolongs the suffering you keep yourself in.
#7 You have lost control of your children and your home.
You tried so hard to be a perfect parent and your children expect you to do everything for them and do nothing they are asked. They talk down to you and make excessive demands that you feel compelled to meet for fear they will be upset with you. Time to stop trying to be perfect and to take charge of your home life.
While you may be aware of and have insight into your own dysfunctional patterns and issues, you may still need help you develop a different relationship to your thoughts and feelings. Psychotherapy can help. While personality disorders and severe mental illness requires longer term therapy, most people benefit from short-term, cognitive or goal-oriented therapy to address specific problems and to alleviate emotional distress. The opportunity to talk to an objective, trained professional without fear of judgment or repercussions can be life-altering.
By: Dr. Anne Dranitsaris
Dr. Dranitsaris is a brain-based therapist and behavioral change expert with more than 30 years experience in the field of psychotherapy, leadership and personal development. She works with individuals, couples, and families to help them understand their personality, needs and emotions. She helps change dysfunctional patterns of behavior, thinking or emotions in addition to treating anxiety, depression, impulse control, eating disorders, and relationship and family issues. Dr. Dranitsaris uses a combination of psychodynamic, cognitive and mindfulness approaches, to build self-esteem and change emotionally driven behaviors that gets in the way of satisfying relationships and careers.
A prolific and frequently cited writer on a broad range of topics on behavioral dysfunction, emotional intelligence and personality styles, Dr. Dranitsaris has been featured in a number of magazines including O, the Oprah Magazine and O’s Little Guide to Finding Your True Purpose. She is the co-author of the popular book on the Striving Styles “Who Are You Meant to Be – A groundbreaking, step-by-step approach to identifying and achieving your true potential” and of more than 70 individual books on personality type. Anne is currently working on her upcoming book, Stop Being at the Mercy of Your Codependent Brain, due to be released in September, 2017.