In 2021, 22.8% of adults in the United States experienced some form of mental illness. However, not everyone with mental health concerns gets the help they need: over half of adults with mental illness don’t receive treatment.
However, therapy is one route that may benefit those with mental health concerns. From coping with the loss of a loved one to recovering from a traumatic experience, there are plenty of reasons why someone might visit a therapist.
To help you decide if it's time to seek professional help for your mental health issues, here are 12 signs that you should see a mental health professional along with five significant benefits therapy can provide.
How do you know if you need therapy?
Treating mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are just a few common reasons people seek therapy. However, you don't have to deal with a mental health crisis to benefit from therapy.
Many people go to therapy to learn more about themselves and achieve self-improvement. Others go to therapy to help them manage negative thoughts and emotions, and others go to therapy just to have someone to listen to them.
The simple answer is that if you feel you could benefit from therapy, you’re probably right! Many people who attend therapy find the experience beneficial. Just note that whatever your reasons and goals for therapy are, it often takes time for therapy to work. Therapy isn't an overnight solution, but it can be an effective one if you’re committed and patient.
12 signs you would benefit from therapy
If you still need help deciding if therapy sessions are the right choice for you, there are several ways to determine if you would benefit from therapy. Here are 12 signs that therapy can help you improve your mental wellness and quality of life:
1. Feeling overwhelmed often
Daily life can feel overwhelming sometimes. But if you constantly feel overwhelmed by life's challenges, it may be time to seek professional help. A therapist can help you cope with feeling overwhelmed and provide you with the tools you need to feel more in control of your own life.
2. Disrupted sleep patterns
About 70 million people in the U.S. live with a sleep disorder. While various factors can cause these sleep disorders, disrupted sleep patterns are a common symptom of many mental health conditions. If you struggle to get enough sleep at night, working with a therapist may help uncover the underlying issue.
3. Feeling hopeless
While everyone experiences challenging times when it isn't easy to see the light at the end of the tunnel, few situations are ever truly hopeless. Unfortunately, feelings of hopelessness are much more common — and these feelings can often inhibit your happiness and your ability to find solutions to your problems. Feelings of hopelessness are one of many negative emotions that therapists help their clients manage and are a common reason why people seek therapy.
4. Traumatic life experiences
Traumatic life experiences can often create lasting emotional scars. Sometimes, these traumatic experiences can cause a person to develop PTSD. Even if you don't have PTSD, past traumas can still be difficult to cope with. If past traumatic experiences still negatively impact your life, working with a therapist can be a great way to heal from them.
5. Grieving the loss of a loved one
Losing a close family member or other loved one is something almost everyone experiences at some point in their life. However, that doesn't make it any easier to deal with. If you are struggling to cope with grief following the loss of a loved one, working with a therapist can be a great way to navigate the grieving process.
6. Experiencing life-altering changes
Major life changes can come in many forms and are sometimes a whirlwind for your mental health. Whether it's a career change, going through a breakup, being diagnosed with a serious illness, or any other life-altering changes, you may need help coping and figuring out what comes next.
If you have experienced a life-altering change that you are struggling to deal with, working with a therapist can potentially help you adjust to your new circumstances in a way that is beneficial and healthy.
7. Persistent feelings of negativity and apathy
It’s normal to feel pessimistic from time to time. However, if you experience persistent feelings of negativity and apathy, it may be time to seek mental health services.
Constant negativity and apathy can significantly impact your quality of life and prevent you from appreciating all good things that come your way.
8. Avoiding social situations
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), about 7% of adults live with social anxiety disorder, which causes people to experience anxiety in social situations. Avoiding social situations can also be a symptom of many other mental health conditions, and it is often a sign that it's time for mental health treatment.
9. Struggles maintaining relationships
Couples therapy is specifically designed to help couples navigate relationship issues. Even if you aren't currently in a relationship, a history of difficulty maintaining relationships can still be a sign that you need to focus on improving your mental well-being.
By improving low self-esteem, communication issues, or any other issues negatively impacting your relationships, therapy works to help people create stronger, healthier relationships with others.
10. Difficulty in controlling emotions
Everyone experiences negative emotions from time to time. However, your ability to control them and avoid letting them dictate your actions will largely determine your emotional health.
If you have difficulty managing your emotions or find that your emotions frequently get the better of you, a therapist may be able to provide you with the tools you need to control your emotions rather than letting your emotions control you.
11. Changing eating habits
Treating eating disorders is one common reason why people seek therapy. Even if you don't have an eating disorder, though, a major change in eating habits could still be a sign of underlying mental issues that a therapist may be able to help you resolve.
12. Losing interest in things you're normally passionate about
Our passions are among the biggest things that bring joy and meaning into our lives. If you’re losing interest in the things that you’re normally passionate about, it probably isn't because you don't care about those things anymore. It's much more common for people to lose interest in their passions due to mental or emotional issues getting in the way, which is something that therapy may be able to help you fix.
The benefits of therapy
Therapy can offer a range of both short-term and long-term benefits. Here are some of the biggest benefits that you can potentially look forward to when you find the right therapist:
Many of us need the support of others to get through tough times. Many times, however, this support can feel hard to come by. Thankfully, therapists are trained in active listening and providing emotional support. Talking with a therapist can be highly beneficial when you just need someone in your corner to listen and cheer you on.
Empowerment and having a better sense of self
Negative thoughts and challenging emotions can sometimes get in the way of you being the best version of yourself. Therapy can help you overcome these mental obstacles and provide you with a sense of confidence and empowerment. Therapy can also help you develop a much better sense of yourself — which is key to personal growth.
Improved relationships and communication
Mental health issues can frequently have a negative impact on a person's relationships. But when you improve yourself and your mental health through therapy, it can improve your relationship with others as well.
Along with helping you address these issues holding your relationships back, a therapist can also help you improve your communication skills to further strengthen your relationships.
Attainment of life skills and coping strategies
Therapy teaches you skills and coping strategies you can use for the rest of your life. This can include strategies for managing negative emotions and eliminating negative thoughts and thought patterns, problem-solving skills, and communication skills. These skills and strategies will allow you to manage negative feelings such as stress and anxiety in a healthier, more productive way.
Stress reduction and management
About 80% of Americans say that they frequently or sometimes experience feelings of stress in their daily lives. Working with a therapist can help reduce how frequently you feel stressed and provide you with coping tools to make stress less severe.
Which mental health professional should I see?
There are many different types of therapy and several different types of mental health professionals. The mental professional you see will help determine the specific type of therapy that will work best for you — but how do you know which type of clinician you should schedule an appointment with?
To help you answer this question, let's take a look at a few of the major types of mental health professionals, the services they offer, and who those services are best suited for.
Mental health counselors
Mental health counselors are mental health professionals who use psychotherapy techniques to treat mental health concerns.
Typically, mental health counselors have earned a master's degree in psychology, counseling, or a related field. They can treat mental disorders using therapeutic techniques like talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and exposure therapy, but aren’t authorized to prescribe medication.
Like therapists, psychologists can also identify and treat many mental health conditions. Psychologists use psychological evaluations and clinical interviews to evaluate mental health and can formally diagnose mental health conditions. They commonly work in hospitals, community groups, and private offices. Most psychologists will use different types of talk therapy and counseling to treat their clients.
Clinical social workers
Clinical social workers (CSW) specialize in helping people navigate challenging life situations such as domestic abuse and childhood trauma. This profession is a subset of social work, but these providers are also trained to provide therapy. Clinical social workers commonly work for government agencies, schools, and community organizations.
Psychiatrists will often use many of the same psychotherapy techniques as psychologists. The biggest difference between the two is that psychiatrists can prescribe medication for mental disorders and often focus on medication management. Psychiatrists must hold an MD (Doctor of Medicine) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) and complete residency training in psychiatry. They commonly work in specialty clinics, hospitals, and private practices.
Get the mental health support you need with SonderMind
If you've decided that therapy is the right choice for improving your mental wellness, finding the right therapist is the next step.
At SonderMind, we make it easy for anyone to enjoy therapy's many benefits. By simply filling out a brief questionnaire, you can match with a mental health professional who fits your unique needs and preferences.
With SonderMind, you can match with either in-person or online therapy providers. Once you've found a match, SonderMind lets you schedule an appointment directly within our user-friendly platform.
Get started with SonderMind today to match with a therapist and begin your journey to better mental health.