In the United States, we’re slowly becoming more open about our mental health. A survey conducted back in 2004 found that the stigma surrounding mental health, though still present, has been on the decline. In fact, 48 percent of Americans polled said someone in their household visited a mental health professional within that last year, while 91 percent said they would be likely to recommend or consult a mental health professional if they or a family member experienced a problem.
Considering that one in five US adults experiences mental illness, that’s certainly good news. What’s more, nearly 175,000 people in Baltimore are living with a mental health condition at any given time, while 39 percent of Baltimore City residents said they experienced one or more poor mental health days during a given month in 2014.
The truth is, however, that you don’t need a mental health diagnosis to benefit from seeing a therapist in Baltimore. Contrary to what you might always have been taught, there are countless reasons to pursue counseling that have nothing to do with severe mental illness. If you’re experiencing any of the following signs, you may want to consider the benefits that therapy can provide.
You’ve Experienced Big Life Changes or Traumatic Events
If you’re in the midst of a huge transitional phase, you might very well feel overwhelmed, confused, stressed, or completely lost. Feeling this way may be totally normal–but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help. When someone is laid off from a long-term position or is having trouble dealing with all the changes parenthood brings, a therapist can help that person identify goals, improve skills, and develop strategies to navigate through this difficult time. This also applies to people who have experienced trauma, either recently or far in the past. Abusive relationships, miscarriages, deaths, divorces, breakups, and instances of discrimination can all have a profound impact on our well-being. In order to address these events properly and truly heal, therapy may be extremely helpful
You Feel Withdrawn, Isolated, or Despondent
Do you find that you aren’t enjoying the activities you once loved or that you’re pulling away from your closest friends and relatives? This loss of motivation and passion could indicate the presence of depression or anxiety. It could also be that you merely feel stuck in a rut and that no one understands what you’re going through. A qualified therapist can assess your situation and help you to create a plan that will allow you to prioritize your mental health in a variety of ways. Whether you feel like you can’t concentrate or you’ve lost your old enthusiasm, you can likely benefit from individual or group therapy.
You’re Have Strained Relationships or Have Trouble Socializing
There’s no doubt that relationships require a lot of hard work. Whether you’ve been married for 20 years or have been dating someone for only a few months, it can be difficult to maintain a high level of honest and loving communication throughout a relationship. One partner may be unwilling to express their emotions or may hold onto feelings of resentment, while the other partner may show signs of codependency or may have a completely different communication style. A therapist may be able to help you (or, sometimes, both you and your partner) learn how to become more open and to prioritize communication within the relationship. You may even experience problems with coworkers, relatives, or friends that a therapist can help you work through. And if you avoid social situations and relationships altogether due to overwhelming feelings of anxiety, a therapist may also assist you through treatment.
You Need Additional Support
Many of us rely on our friends and family to act as a sounding board when we need advice or want to vent. But there may come a point where your loved ones have had enough or feel they’re powerless to help you. It’s not fair to treat your friend or parent as your constant therapist; he or she won’t have the training to help you in the way you really need. In addition, this may be emotional burden that may not be healthy for your loved ones to take on. If your friends and relatives have started pulling away from you or have talked to you about seeing a therapist in the past, this may indicate that they’re unable to provide assistance in the way you want them to. You may even feel like your support system is non-existent and you have no one to turn to. In either case, a therapist can provide great comfort and come up with a comprehensive plan to improve your quality of life.
You’re Turning to Unhealthy Behaviors to Cope
Unfortunately, substance abuse and addiction are all too common. In Baltimore alone, there were 761 drug and alcohol-related intoxication deaths in 2017. And while there are countless reasons why the diseases of alcoholism and drug addiction present themselves, they may often begin with harmful behaviors being used to cope in times of emotional need. You don’t necessarily have to be an alcoholic or drug addict to have an unhealthy relationship with these substances, either. If you’re turning to drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, shopping, or even social media use when you’re feeling sad, angry, or overwhelmed, it’s possible that you could be self-medicating in an attempt to distract yourself from the emotional pain you’re experiencing. A therapist can help you get to the bottom of these behaviors, address what’s really going on in your life, and even inspire healthy changes in how you interact with substances or potentially dangerous behaviors.
No matter what kind of negative experience you might be having, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to solve all of your problems on your own. Whether you feel you may exhibit signs of a mental illness or you simply want to prioritize your self-care and have someone to talk to, a therapist can provide valuable insight and assistance.