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Everyone experiences periods of stress, sadness, grief and conflict, so when you're feeling off it can be hard to know if it's time to see a professional about the problem.


Aside from suffering needlessly, those in distress may actually make the problem worse by avoiding professional help. The earlier you get help, the easier it is to get through the problem. There will be less time and less strain and stress involved in that.

What are some signs it might be time to set up an appointment?


The biggest takeaway? It's simply a question of measuring to what extent you can manage - anything that makes you feel overwhelmed or limits your ability to function is fair game for a therapist.



Everything you feel is intense


Feeling overcome with anger or sadness on a regular basis could indicate an underlying issue, but there's another intensity to be on the lookout for: catastrophizing. When an unforeseen challenge appears, do you immediately assume the worst case scenario will take place? This intense form of anxiety, in which every worry is super-sized and treated as a realistic outcome, can be truly debilitating.


You've suffered a trauma and you can't seem to stop thinking about it


The pain of a death in the family, a breakup or job loss can be enough to require a bit of counseling. We tend to think these feelings are going to go away on their own. This isn't always the case. Grief from a loss can impair daily functioning and even cause you to withdraw from friends. If you find you aren't engaging in your life or those around you have noticed that you're pulling away, you may want to speak to someone to unpack how the event still affects you. On the other hand, some people respond to loss with a more manic reaction - hyper-engagement with friends and acquaintances or an inability to sleep.


You have unexplained and recurrent headaches, stomach-aches or a rundown immune system


If we're emotionally upset, it can affect our bodies. Research confirms that stress can manifest itself in the form of a wide range of physical ailments, from a chronically upset stomach to headaches, frequent colds or even a diminished sex drive. More unusual complaints like muscle twinges that seem to come out of nowhere (read: not after a big workout) or neck pain can be signs of carried stress or emotional distress.


You're using a substance to cope


If you find yourself drinking or using drugs in greater quantities or more often - or even more often thinking about drinking or drugs - these could be signs that you're hoping to numb feelings that should be addressed. That substance could even be food. Changes in appetite can be another sign that all is not well. Both over-eating or not wanting to eat could be signs that a person is dealing with stress or struggling with the desire to take care of himself.


You're getting bad feedback at work


Changes in work performance are common among those struggling with emotional or psychological issues. You might feel disconnected from your job, even if it used to make you happy. Aside from changes in concentration and attention, you might get negative feedback from managers or co-workers that the quality of your work is slipping. This could be a sign that it's time to talk to a professional.


You feel disconnected from previously beloved activities


If your clubs, friend meet-ups and family gatherings have lost their previous joyfulness, it can be a sign that something is amiss. If you're disillusioned, feeling like there's not a lot of purpose or a point or feeling a general sense of dissatisfaction, seeing a therapist could help you regain some clarity or start in a new direction.


Your relationships are strained


Have trouble communicating how you really feel - or even being able to identify it in the moment? If you find yourself feeling unhappy during interactions with loved ones on a regular basis, you might make a good candidate for therapy.


Your friends have told you they're concerned


Sometimes friends can notice patterns that are hard to see from the inside, so it's worth considering the perspectives of those around you.



How long will my treatment take?


It depends on the individual - some treatment only takes few months, other people attend for two years if their difficulty is more deeply rooted.


Why does it take so long?


Unconscious patterns of thinking and behaviour that underlie our life difficulties take years to develop. Bringing about change means that firstly those patterns have to be discovered, then slowly altered to more healthy ones. Sound and long lasting improvement requires time to come into fruition.


My friend, family member or loved one needs psychological help urgently, can you speak to them please and force them to come in?


No, I can only offer appointments when the individual is happy to engage.

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