Do I Need Therapy?

How to tell when it’s time to get help for your mental health
Medically Reviewed by
Dr Hamilton
A woman sits on the floor in distress, wondering if she needs therapy
Source: Unsplash

It’s not uncommon to wonder in tough times: “do I need therapy?” Whether you’ve been stressed at work or you’re dealing with difficult family members, day-to-day life can be a lot. Knowing when you’ve crossed the invisible line between ‘normal’ emotional challenges and something deeper can feel impossible.

Of course, if you have a diagnosed mental illness or a health condition you know can cause emotional dysregulation or extreme mood shifts, you might have a better sense of when to seek therapy — but if you’ve never been to therapy before, you probably need some additional information.

The truth is: anyone can benefit from therapy, anytime (we’ll talk about that more later in this post). But getting mental health care does come with a sacrifice of time and money, so it’s understandable that many people wait to seek it out until they really feel like they need it.

That’s why we’ve gathered some of the signs here, so you can keep a close eye on your symptoms and make the right choice for you, at the right time.

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An anxious man covers his face with his hand, wondering if he needs therapy
Source: Pixabay

Indications that it might be time to seek help

The biggest sign that you need therapy is simply considering it; if you’re wondering whether your emotional state requires intervention, it probably does. At the very least, you’d likely benefit from help. You don’t have to achieve a certain level of sadness or anxiety to ‘deserve’ support in improving your mental health — you always deserve help.

Still, there are some more concrete indications that you should reach out to a therapist sooner rather than later. The American Psychological Association suggests considering two main questions: how distressing the problem is and how much it’s interfering with your life.

To that end, we’ll break the signs up into two focus points: how the issue you’re struggling with presents itself in your life, and what the effects of your emotional concern are on your daily life and relationships. 

It may be time to seek help if the issue you’re struggling with:

  • Is shocking and overwhelming, like the death of a loved one or a traumatic breakup
  • Comes during a major life transition like a move or career change
  • Makes you feel ashamed, like you need to hide it from others
  • Feels insurmountable, causing you to feel hopeless about ever improving
  • Takes up space in your brain and time from your day at least once a week
  • Has lowered your overall quality of life in the past few months

Some of the ways your emotional state might have affected your quality of life include:

  • Causing you to struggle to form or maintain friendships
  • Negatively affecting your performance at work or in school
  • Making it difficult for you to sleep well, stay awake during the day, or eat enough
  • Stealing the joy you previously felt during particular activities
  • Holding you back from pursuing your goals
  • Impeding your social life, maybe even causing you to rearrange your whole schedule

If the problem you’re facing is occurring within a personal relationship, many of the above signs will still be relevant, but you’ll want to seek out family or couples therapy instead of — or in addition to — individual treatment. 

Therapy is always a good idea

There’s no such thing as a person who can’t benefit at all from therapy — we all have our struggles, and even if we’re tolerating them well we could still stand to feel less anxious or stressed. Even the most well-adjusted person can improve themselves.

Therapy doesn’t need to be an infinite commitment, either. While some forms of talk therapy, like psychoanalysis, are notorious for taking a long time, there are other therapy methods that are known to be effective in the short term. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one example of a super effective treatment that can take as little as two weeks to show results.

You also don’t need to see a clinical psychologist if you don’t feel your symptoms merit that level of intervention. Marriage and family therapists, behavioral coaches, and other types of mental health professionals can be extremely effective in helping you improve your mood and your life. 

If you’ve been wondering about starting therapy, there’s no better time than now. The earlier you intervene when a mental health condition presents itself, the faster you can begin to improve, and the less opportunity the issue has to cause damage.

Therapists created Youper to make mental healthcare accessible to everyone. Youper is a mental health chatbot that guides you through interactive CBT Therapy exercises to help you calm anxiety, improve your relationships, be more productive, and improve your mood. Youper is available on your own time and schedule wherever and whenever needed.

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