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Adult psychology - Do you need someone to talk to?

For many people thinking about 'getting help' can be hard.  Deciding to see a psychologist or therapist to help with feelings of depression, worry, stress, anger issues, self-esteem, trauma, or so many other issues can be embarrassing, scary, or anxiety provoking.

Sometimes we know when we need help.  Maybe we tried all the things that worked before: spending time with friends, bubble baths, meditating, walking the dog, exercising, reading a good book, working on a favorite project, or even cleaning the house.  This time its different.  Things that helped in the past are not helping now, or it doesn't seem to help for long.  You do not think you are really depressed, anxious, or stressed, but something is just not right.  When parts of your life that were going well before are starting to be difficult it may be a sign of mental distress:

What can a counsellor / therapist help me with?

  • easily frustrated / overreacting to minor stress
  • no longer enjoying things you used too
  • worry that you just can't shake off
  • over emotional
  • nothing seems to go right
  • not getting things done
  • unusually impulsive behaviours
  • irritability with friends / family
  • everyday tasks feel harder
  • difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • trouble getting out of bed
  • undesired weight gain or weight loss
  • unhappy at work
  • unable to settle or feel calm

These experiences may be signs that you might benefit from a vacation, or they may be signs that you might benefit from talking to a neutral third party.  Sometimes just talking about how life is going helps us move past mental roadblocks, or problem solve things we did not realize were bothering us.  One or two sessions therapy sessions are often enough to get the mind reset and start feeling better again about life.

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Do I need help?

Sometimes we do not realize that we need help until we start hearing it from others.  Some possible warning signs may include:

When things reach this stage you are likely at risk of losing the support of friends, family or your boss.  Spending some time talking to a therapist may help you to figure out why others are reacting to you the way you are.   Your actions may be symptoms of mental distress.  By working with a therapist you may be able to treat the cause of the distress and regain the trust and support of family, friends, and employer.

  • others often seem upset at your behaviors
  • people repeatedly questioning your choices
  • being asked several times if you are ok
  • friends / family telling you they will no longer tolerate certain behaviors
  • receiving suggestions that you 'see someone'
  • being put 'on notice' or receiving reprimands at work
  • negative interactions with authority
  • people trying to avoid or minimize contact with you

Common Mental Health illnesses

Sometimes we are not just in mental distress.  Sometimes we are actually suffering from a clinical illness.  Clinically diagnosed mental illness impacts people from all incomes, education levels, cultures, and lifestyles.  When things reach this stage it is important to work with your family physician and an expert mental health therapist to treat the illness.

  • 20% of all Canadians will personally experience mental illness in their lifetime*
  • 12.6% of Canadians will experience clinical depression
  • 8.7% of Canadians will experience clinical anxiety
  • 1-3% of Canadians will develop an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia
  • 2.6% of Canadians will experience bi-polar disorder (otherwise known as manic depression)
  • 1% of Canadians will be directly or indirectly impacted by someone with schizophrenia

Substance Use / Abuse is a common way for people to self-medicate for mental distress / mental illness

  • 21.6% of Canadians will use or abuse alcohol or drugs to try to deal with a mental health concern
    • 18.1% abuse or depend upon alcohol
    • 6.8% will abuse or become dependent on marijuana (yes it is possible to become addicted to marijuana)
    • 4% will abuse or become dependent on other prescription or non-prescription drugs

There are many proven psycho-therapies that can significantly improve life quality.  Selecting the right treatment for the particular mental illness is important.  Research shows that some psychological treatments are more effective for certain mental health issues.  In the same way that you wouldn't treat a broken leg with blood pressure medication, you want to be sure your therapist is using the recommended treatment for the challenges you are facing.

* all figures from Statistics Canada, Canadian Community Health Survey - Mental Health, 2012

Karin, Stephanie, and Donna provide therapy for adults at our South Edmonton office