Have you found yourself wondering if there's such a thing as a therapy relapse? Do you ever catch yourself asking, "should I go back to therapy?" If so, that might be a sign telling you that going back to therapy might be a good idea.
Regardless of what brought you to therapy in the first place, no rule specifies you are done with therapy. Most of the time, people stop attending therapy sessions once they feel their problems are gone. Even long-term therapy, at one point or another, comes to an end. It doesn't mean that you'll ever need therapy again.
However, as you probably know, life is ever-changing. What one day stops bothering us can quickly come back and cause trouble tomorrow. Let's explore some not-so-glaring signs that going back to therapy is not as bad of an option as you think.
1. Your Symptoms Are Back
The most apparent sign is experiencing symptoms again. If the main reason you chose to seek therapy was to address a mental health condition, your symptoms are an excellent indicator of your well-being. A lot is happening in the world right now that can trigger symptoms of anxiety, depression, and compulsive behaviors.
While trigger prevention and trigger management is part of therapy, sometimes the symptoms are so severe that you succumb to their effects. When this happens, don't let your symptoms get the best of you. Going back to therapy can help you find new coping mechanisms that work with your new reality — whatever that is today.
2. Something Traumatic Happened
Unfortunately, we cannot control what happens around us. One day everything seems fine, and the next, it's as if the world is crumbling down on us. The current world environment is stressful, and dynamics are changing by the minute.
Maybe you lost your job due to the pandemic, or a family member is sick, perhaps your relationship is taking a toll with the added strain, or maybe just the idea of remote work long-term isn't settling with you. While they might seem harmless, these can be quite traumatic events that affect your state of your mental health. Particularly right now, as we're trying to navigate the uncertainty of a pandemic.
All of these drastic environmental changes can take a toll on your mental health and lead to many worries. It's easy to feel out of control and hopeless. Anxiety and depression can quickly creep in when your defense mechanisms are down. It might be time to return to therapy and discuss how these new triggers affect your mental health and well-being.
3. Something Feels Off
Sometimes, you can't pinpoint the exact cause of something. Maybe you can't sleep, you're eating less, or you feel uneasy. Remember, everyone is different, and the signs of worsening mental health aren't the same for us all. It's important to know yourself and recognize when something feels off.
Do you feel numb? Are you craving junk food all the time? Do you have trouble processing your emotions? Are you crying all the time? These can all be indicators that it's time to go back to your therapist and talk about what's happening. Perhaps you can try a different therapy approach this time.
It's common for therapy-goers to feel shame about going back to therapy. In fact, there's evidence that proves that even when therapy fails to help someone on the first try, it can still be effective the second time around. Almost 30-40% of people do not recover after a first-line mental health treatment, according to Psychology Today.
It's easy to think that going back to therapy means failure, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Choosing to see a therapist again is by no means failing, it means you're taking the right steps to maintain your long-term mental health. Looking after your mental health is an ongoing journey, and getting help is never a failure.
The fact that you chose to leave therapy at one point doesn't mean you can't come back. While everyone wants to go forth in the world without a therapist, it's completely acceptable to check in again should a crisis occur. Those in the post-therapy phase need to focus the attention on self-care and mental health.
Trust yourself. You have a new set of tools, techniques, and coping mechanisms that showed you how to spot when something isn't right.
Choosing to go back to therapy can be an empowering feeling that proves you're taking the right steps to care for yourself. Whether you choose to go back to your old therapist, or seek help from another one, keep a positive mindset in your search. Don't punish yourself and add unnecessary labels that are keeping you away from seeking help. Practicing self-compassion is a powerful way to move forward.