Signs That You May Need Counseling

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  • 1.Signs That You May Need CounselingWhy is it that when we have a sore throat or a torn ligament, we go to a doctor? Why is it thatwe willingly take antibiotics for our diagnosed strep throat, and endure medical procedures andtests for our torn ligament? Why is it that as soon as summer hits (or is about to hit), we hurryinto our local gym in an attempt to get buff and look good in a swimsuit? The main questionhere is: Why do we put our physical health before our mental health? Shouldnt the two beequal? When youre sick, you go to a doctor. When you want to get in shape, you start to workout. So why is it that there are an estimated 58 million people in the United States suffering withsome sort of mental illness in a given year who fail to seek treatment? Perhaps the stigmaassociated with seeking help for problems that are not clearly visible is one reason. Thisstigma is so strong that it can deter people from seeking the help that they require. However, wemust re-frame our thinking. Our mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand. If you donthave good mental health, your physical health will suffer, and vice versa. For example,individuals living with a serious mental illness are far more likely to also suffer from a seriousand chronic medical condition. Furthermore, these individuals are more likely to die prematurely(as much as 25 years sooner) than their healthy peers. As you can see, living with a mentalillness in silence is damaging to both your mental and physical health. For some people, thestigma associated with seeking help or being deemed crazy is so strong that they live insilence with their illness, and may end up committing suicide. In the United States, suicide is theeleventh leading cause of death, and it has been deemed that more than 90% of theseindividuals suffered from a diagnosable and treatable mental disorder.I have been conducting counseling in San Diego with all types of individuals, couples, andfamilies for over 30 years. Counseling is not something that you need to fear. And counselingcertainly does not show signs of personal weakness. In fact, seeking professional help formental anguish can be equated with going to the doctor for a routine check-up or procedure.You wouldnt ignore your physical health if you had a problem, so why neglect your mentalhealth when you are suffering? Since our mental and physical health are so tightly intertwined, it 1/3

2. is of paramount importance to ensure that both are well-attended to so that you are able tofunction at your optimal level.That being said, how do you know if you need counseling? While there are a wide array ofpsychological disorders, ranging from very mild to quite severe, I will briefly outline somecommon signs that may indicate the need for counseling.First (and by far the most common sign that you may need counseling), you notice that you areexperiencing extreme emotions. By this I mean feeling either very high or very low, or even aconstant fluctuation between the two. You may feel like an emotional rollercoaster and likeyou are always on the verge of having an emotional outburst (i.e. crying, anger, etc.). If you areexperiencing this, the people around you will notice as well, as relationships and friendshipsmay become strained due to your emotional instability. Some clients I have seen who haveexhibited these symptoms have since been diagnosed with depression and treated for it. This isnot to say that everyone who experiences a fluctuation of emotions has depression, but in myexperience I have found that symptoms such as uncontrollable crying outbursts and either highor low emotional arousal can be the beginning stages of a psychological disorder, such asdepression.Second, you may notice that you are experiencing a lot of stress and anxiety. Keep in mind thata certain degree of anxiety is in fact normal, since it motivates us to accomplish the mundanetasks of daily living. But when the anxiety and stress become so overwhelming that they aretaking over your life and hindering your ability to be productive or partake in activities you usedto enjoy, you may want to seek out professional help. A common diagnosis in a case like thisis Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).Unhealthy coping mechanisms, also known as self-medicating, are common among peoplestruggling with psychological issues. This is often because they do not know what is wrong withthem or why they feel the way they do. Some individuals use drugs and/or alcohol to cope withthe mental anguish, while others resort to more extreme methods such as self-harm. Whateverthe case may be, if you are engaging in unhealthy coping behaviors, you may need counselingin order to help you discover the root of the problem and the reasons why you are engaging inthese behaviors.Another common reason for individuals seeking out counseling is they have experienced somesort of traumatic event (i.e. physical/sexual assault) or a sequence of traumatic events (i.e.childhood abuse/neglect). Often people who have experienced trauma require counseling inorder to make them feel safe and secure in their environments once again, and also to helpthem vent their thoughts, feelings, and emotions regarding the trauma (which they may feel likethey cannot tell anyone else). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a common diagnosis incases like these.Similar to experiencing trauma, grief and loss are often things that require counseling. If youhave recently lost a loved one or ended a relationship and are having trouble coping andcoming to terms with it, you may find counseling beneficial to help you get through this difficulttime. Grief and Loss counseling is often short-term, but is dictated by your personal needs and2/3 3. is therefore person-specific. Unexplained aches and pains is yet another red flag that something psychological is going on, rather than something physical. For instance, you have been to your physician several times complaining of random (yet bothersome) aches and pains, yet he/she cannot find any physical or medical reason for them. This is often a sign that something psychological is going on, as this mental distress is manifesting itself as physical symptoms (i.e. headaches, backaches, muscle pain, etc.) While the pain may not be visible, it is still real and therefore still requires professional attention, such as counseling. Last but certainly not least, just a general low feeling about yourself is enough to warrant psychological counseling. Perhaps you have low self-esteem and/or confidence issues that are interfering with your ability to enjoy life and partake in daily activities such as work or school. Counseling can help you to talk through the difficult emotions you are feeling about yourself, and perhaps help you to learn new ways of looking at things by re-framing your thoughts. Whatever your reason for seeking counseling, please do not hesitate to give me a call for a free consultation so I can better get to know you and your specific situation and needs. Remember, attending counseling is not a sign of personal weakness. On the contrary, it is a sign of personal strength, because it signifies that you realize something isnt right and you are taking the necessary steps in order to fix it. You should not feel ashamed or embarrassed about needing counseling. Counseling has the ability to help a lot of people in a wide array of situations, and therefore it is something that should be viewed just like going to the medical doctor when you have a physical/visible ailment. The emotional and psychological pain you are feeling is real too, and deserves the same kind of attention you would devote to your physical health. Remember, physical and mental health go hand-in-hand. When either is suffering, you should seek the necessary professional help in order to get back to your optimum level of functioning. Copyright 2012 Jan Rakoff. All Rights Reserved. 3/3Powered by TCPDF (