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Reasons Why People Seek Therapy

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Oftentimes, people don't consider going to therapy because they think it's only for people with serious mental health conditions. They might think "I’ll feel better, this will pass” or "My problems aren’t too bad.” 

But think about this. When you have a toothache, you see a dentist. When something is not right with your body, you see a doctor. Why shouldn’t your mental health be the same way?

People go to therapy for many different reasons. It could be to cope with everyday stress or to improve a relationship. It could be to deal with harmful habits or serious mental health conditions. When it comes to therapy, no problem is too big or too small. 

So what are the top reasons why someone would see a therapist? 

Stress and anxiety

We’ve all had moments of anxiety at some point. It might have been before a big presentation at work or an important event like a wedding or speaking to a large group of people. These temporary feelings of anxiety are different from an anxiety disorder. When someone has an anxiety disorder, it impacts their ability to function day-to-day. Like many mental health conditions, anxiety can often be difficult to understand unless you (or someone you’re close with) have experienced the symptoms firsthand. 

Ongoing stress and anxiety can lead to problems with sleep, developing unhealthy habits, and depression. A therapist will work with you to identify sources of stress and anxiety and help you develop ways to cope with them.

Addiction

Addiction is a mental health condition that alters a person’s brain and behavior. This leads to an inability to control their substance use. Addiction is also known as substance use disorder. It also applies to behavioral disorders, such as sexual, Internet, and gambling addictions.

Addiction is a complex part of a chronic, treatable condition. With the right professional help, treatment makes living with substance use disorder possible and can also help families and loved ones. 

Depression

Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions, with more than 17 million U.S. adults experiencing at least one episode of major depression in a given year. Depression can affect many things in your life, such as your work, relationships, appetite, sleep, and physical health. 

Even though doctors don’t fully understand the cause of depression, they do know how to treat it. Changes to your daily routine, talk therapy, and medication can help. All three of these together or a combination may work well for you.

Grief and loss

Grief is the natural human reaction to loss. Everyone experiences grief differently, and feelings of grief can stick around for different periods of time depending on an individual’s circumstance. Most often we associate grief with the death of a loved one, but people also grieve over things such as the loss of an important relationship, losing a job, learning of a terminal diagnosis, loss of a pet, and more.

Grief can feel both overwhelming and numbing to those experiencing it. While it is different for everyone, often the pain of the loss diminishes over time as the individual becomes more and more accustomed to the new reality of life without the grieved person or thing. Talking to a therapist can help you work through your feelings and find closure.

Relationships

Our relationships with others account for a significant part of our lives. Relationships — whether they’re romantic, work-related, family relationships, or friendships —  can be fulfilling, exciting, and deeply rewarding.

Relationships come with their own challenges as well. Conflicts arise, arguments happen, and a relationship can start to negatively affect your life or your mental health. Therapy, whether individual or with the person you're in a relationship with, can provide you the tools and resources needed to have healthy and happy relationships.

Family and parenting concerns

Whether it's the family you're born into or the family you make for yourself, families can be some of the best support systems we have in our lives. Parents, grandparents, siblings, and other family members are often some of our biggest influences.

Families also can be a source of distress or pain for many. Families face myriad challenges and finding healthy ways to communicate and handle those challenges is difficult. Therapy, whether individual or with family members, is a powerful way for families to build or repair bonds among each other.

Everyday challenges and life changes

Every now and then, we all need a little support. Life gets difficult and your emotions might make daily routines feel more challenging than usual. Emotions like grief, stress, isolation, or sadness can negatively impact the way we handle our work, friendships, relationships, and physical health.

No matter how "severe" you think your emotional experience might be, therapy can be helpful. In fact, therapy is often the best way to alleviate a difficult situation before it worsens. Therapy isn't about quick fixes or cures. It’s about finding the tools and resources you need to handle life changes, no matter what your emotional state might be.

Therapy is part of your overall health

Therapy is part of caring for your whole health — both physical and mental. If you’re managing a physical health condition, therapy can help you gain the skills that will strengthen how you care for your physical health. And vice versa. If you’re struggling with a mental health issue, it can affect your physical health. Therapy can help improve your mental well-being, which, consequently, can improve your physical well-being. 

The truth is, therapy is for everyone. Whether you need extra support for everyday life challenges or you need treatment for more serious mental health concerns, making therapy part of your overall care is one of the most important things you can do for your health and well-being.

Last Updated:
Published:
First Published:
October 13, 2022

Sources:

National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). Mental Health Conditions. Retrieved October 3, 2022: https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions

National Institute of Mental Health. (2022, April). Anxiety Disorders. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved October 3, 2022: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders

National Institute of Mental Health. (2021). Chronic Illness and Mental Health: Recognizing and Treating Depression. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved October 3, 2022: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/chronic-illness-mental-health

National Institute of Mental Health. (2022, January.) Major Depression. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved October 3, 2022: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/major-depression

National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). Persistent Depressive Disorder (Dysthymic Disorder). National Institutes of Health. Retrieved October 3, 2022: 

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/persistent-depressive-disorder-dysthymic-disorder

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