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When is the Right Moment to See a Mental Health Professional?

Alexandra Verreault ,

Paper boat

This May 7-13 is the 67th Mental Health Week and this year’s theme is “Take Action to Find Meaning.” For the occasion, we at Optania decided to talk about psychotherapy, which is a great way to help find meaning in our choices, our behaviour and our emotions, and also to take care of ourselves and our mental health.

Life isn’t like a calm, eternally meandering river. Sometimes it gets windy, the water gets choppy and waves come crashing down. Other times, the water level rises as the rain comes pouring down and the river rushes by, carrying your boat away in a tidal wave. Or maybe it gets too foggy and you feel like you’re trying to move forward blindly. But most of the time, the sun comes out again. That’s life.

You’re used to dealing with the bad weather until things get sunny again. You’ve learned how to sail your boat, and even though sometime the storm seems aggressive, you know you can handle it. That’s what makes it so hard to decide when is the right time to see a therapist. What makes this storm different than the others you’ve been through?

First of all, know one thing: you don’t have to go through the storms on your own, even when you know you can get through them. You always have the option. You don’t have to wait until the last minute, when you feel like you’re going overboard, to seek professional help. You can ask for help beforehand, even if you think you can get through it on your own. But the help of another will make it easier to get through the storm unharmed.

Already our question has been partly answered: there is no right or wrong time to get help. Nonetheless, there are some signs that could indicate that you’re ready to see a therapist. Here are some that I hope will help guide your choices.

It could be time to see a professional if…

  • You constantly feel overwhelmed by what’s going on, your emotions or your responsibilities. You feel like it’s just too much.
  • Your emotions are intense, and you often feel like you’re going to explode, to burst into tears (tears of sadness, of rage, etc.).
  • You don’t feel any emotions at all any more; you feel like a robot. Happiness, sadness, anger, love, desire, motivation… Everything seems to have disappeared, leaving a void behind
  • You have lost someone or something dear to you. A loved one, a relationship, or a job, and you’re having a hard time getting over the loss.
  • You’ve lived through something traumatizing and you feel like it haunts you.
  • You’re worried you might be becoming addicted to something (alcohol, drugs, gambling, video games, porn, etc.).
  • You’ve noticed that you always get stuck in the same situations in your relationships, at work, in life in general, etc.
  • You feel the need to talk to someone and be heard.
  • You think that your relationships are unstable, unsatisfying or destructive.
  • You feel that you’re not living the life that you should be or that you wish you were.

If you answered yes to one or more of the above, it could be time for you to think about seeing a professional. Not because you can’t do it on your own, but because you deserve to be helped over that rough patch.

Alexandra Verreault

Psychologist, Development Assistant - Clinical division

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