By: Jackelin N. Santiago-Alerte, LCSW, CCS, SSW
“What are some of the signs that one might need to see a therapist?” Statistics state that 1 in 5 adults suffer from some form of mental illness. Out of those who suffer less than half with moderate-to-severe impairment are currently in treatment/therapy, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
The rates for children who suffer from ADHD or other behavioral, mood, or anxiety disorders have also increased by more than 11% since 2007. There are many signs, both big and small that may lead you to seek help but the first step is identifying some of these signs for yourself.
1. The first thing most individuals identify is “I feel everything so intensely”
We are human beings. Emotional, irrational, irate human beings and that is ok. REPEAT after me. THAT IS OK! On the flip side, we are well-tempered, rational, and easygoing. We all feel emotions differently and coping when triggered is unique to all of us. So Yes, we get angry and sad. But I usually ask, “How intense are these feelings, and how often do you feel them?” My follow-up question is usually, “Does it impair or significantly change your ability to function whether it be at home, work, school?”
Feeling overcome with sadness, anger, or just an overwhelming feeling of “blah” on a regular basis could indicate an underlying issue, but there’s another intensity to be on the lookout for, which many of us seem to do and that is: “CATASTROPHIZING”. It’s my favorite “big word”. Psychcentral defines catastrophizing as “an irrational thought a lot of us have in believing that something is far worse than it actually is.”
So I usually ask, “When an unexpected challenge appears, do you immediately fear the worst-case scenario will automatically take place?” (usually yes, and usually followed with the I’m cursed, all the bad things always happen to me) and then I acknowledge the, no you are not crazy, most people feel this, and when you constantly feel anxiety this intensely, in which every worry you may have is bigger than an old school Super-Sized meal at McDonald’s, yes, it can be truly debilitating.
When people experience anxiety and are more apt to it, it can be paralyzing. It can also lead to panic attacks and even cause you to avoid things that you used to do or situations that you cannot control. If your life gets more restricted or you limit yourself because you’re avoiding situations that you have no control over, or if you are just fearing fear to fear fear (ha see what I did there?), it is probably time to see someone.
2. My second reason to see a therapist is if you are experiencing Somatic Symptoms:
So·mat·ic: səˈmadik/adjective: of or relating to the body, especially as distinct from the mind. This basically means that our minds are messing with our bodies.
Most commonly when children experience sadness, anger, or stress they also experience tummy aches, the runs, nausea, just sick… In adults, we have what is most commonly diagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), headaches, migraines, unexplained body aches, etc. If you start noticing that your body is betraying you in a time when your life is a bit chaotic, and it is all untreatable by modern medicine because there is actually nothing medically wrong with you… you guessed it, it may be time to speak to someone.
3. Are people letting you know they are concerned?
Most people state, “My boss says I’m not performing to standard”, “My friends are concerned”, “I’m taking my feelings out on my significant other”, or “My child is having behavioral difficulties at home or school” etc. Have you heard any of these things in the last few weeks from more than one person? If so, let’s talk about it.
There is a stigma associated with mental health and speaking to a therapist. What most people don’t realize is that most of the time, in therapy, we are just talking about life and how hard life can be. We are learning to identify, process, and navigate this life. There are many benefits of therapy. The most important benefit is self-care. Therapy can be viewed as a stress-reliever like going to the gym or yoga, except for the mind. Also, therapy isn’t a life sentence. Therapy can be short or long depending on your need.
This guest blog is written by Jackelin N. Santiago-Alerte, LCSW, CCS, SSW. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Clinical Supervisor, Certified School Social Worker, Certified Reiki Master, Poet/Speaker, Educator, Advocate, and Founder of Healing Hearts Holistic Center, LLC. Jacky draws upon a variety of therapeutic techniques when treating individuals as no one individual is the same and works in a variety of settings across the clinical spectrum. She became a member of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority, Inc. at the Alpha Alpha Alumnae Chapter in Spring 2016.
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