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Emotions Getting you Down? How to Decide When it’s Time for Professional Help

Is it Time for Professional Help?

Everyone has a depressing day or an anxious or angry moment once in a while.  But how do you know when your bad mood is here to stay instead of just being a passing thing?  And when do you need to seek the help of a professional?

emotionsUnsplash.com/ Laura Vargas

The first thing we need to clear up is that needing the help of a professional is not a bad thing.  In fact, I choose to view it as a privilege that we are being given, something that is actually an honor to receive.  Seeking professional help means you’re thinking clearly enough to know that things could be better.  It means that you want to improve your situation.  It means that you are considering allowing someone who spent many years of their life learning to help others with similar situation and probably has many years of experience doing just that.

On the other hand, I’m not suggesting you cry wolf or spend most of your day on a couch reflecting on your situation.  So, it is important that consider your options carefully and then make the best choice you can.  I have personally sought counseling from both paid professionals and spiritual advisors over the years.  And I’m a firm believer that there is a time and a place for it.  Not to mention, it really does have the potential to change or save your life.  Let’s take a look at 5 Common Signs that it’s time to open the door to outside help.

1.  You Are Tired Of Living or Want to Die

I’m not talking about momentary feelings that “life stinks.’  I’m talking about those deep feelings of wishing you didn’t have to try to cope any more.  Feelings that make you believe the world would be better off without you.  Feelings that you just wish the roller coaster would stop and that you could get off.

As a nurse, I remember being in the ER one night when a teenage boy had taken his life and we were trying to resuscitate him.  His parents were devastated and had no idea their son was suffering so much.  The thing that I still can’t shake about that situation was that the teenager had left his younger brother a goodbye note.  He apologized for bailing on him, for not being there to watch him grow up, and left him with a few pieces of advice for living.  Those were NOT the words of someone who wanted to leave this world.  They WERE words of someone who desperately wanted help to be able to stay.

That help is available.  You only need to reach out a let someone, anyone, grab your hand!

2.  You Have Been Using Drugs or Alcohol to Escape

I come at alcohol from a moderation perspective.  I’ve personally seen alcohol destroy lives and bodies and it is never a pretty site.  However, I don’t believe that you’re going to hell if you sip on a glass of wine here and there either.  Even Jesus turned water into wine as a wedding at least one time.

The problem comes in when you start drowning out your sorrows with shots and cocktails or your credit card bills overflow with charges from liquor stores and beer distributors.  Just like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet hole is not likely to do you much good; neither will alcohol coating your emotional and spiritual woes.  Let someone clean out the wound so it can heal properly.

3.  You Suffered a Serious Trauma

Turn on the television, look at an online news feed or open up a newspaper and you’ll be able to start a long list of people who probably need professional counseling or therapy.  In those cases, we see publicly the atrocities that have occurred in their lives.

However, not all traumatic situations end up broadcast across the world.  Many people suffer in silence, perhaps hiding deep pains that are not sure how to deal with.  Trauma by definition means that there has been a significant experience that has left physical, emotional or both types of scars.  Even if many years have passed since your trauma occurred, it’s never too late to begin healing those wounds.

4.  You Can’t Stop Thinking About Your Problem

You have become obsessive in thinking about your situation.  Perhaps you are planning ways to get out of a bad circumstance, such as leaving a significant other, or quitting a job.  Or maybe every moment your mind is not occupied, thoughts of your problem pop back in.  This type of obsessing is not healthy and it accomplishes nothing.  After an hour of thinking about it, you feel no better, have not developed an action plan and even you can see it was a fruitless effort.  Nevertheless, you can’t make it stop.  This means it’s time for help!

5.  You Have Become a Miserable Bugger

In this case, the title says it all.  No one wants to be around you, you are sad, wretched, gloomy and generally no fun to be around.  Even those closest to you may begin suggesting you take a vacation, buck up, or start taking some antidepressants.  This is another telltale sign that you need to place an order for assistance ASAP (as soon as possible).

Where to Turn For Help

Each person’s situation is unique and without knowing you personally, it is difficult to point anyone in the right direction.  There are general counselors, specific counselors, spiritual advisors individual therapists, group therapists and more.  The first step is contacting your primary care provider (doctor, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant) since he/she knows you best and be honest about what is troubling you.  This person is best qualified to get you on the path that will best meet your individual needs.

If you need immediate help, please call a suicide hotline number — in the U.S., call the
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

Reflection Questions:

  1.  Is there something that you know needs to be dealt with once and for all?
  2.  Are you ready to reach out and let someone help you so that you no longer have to struggle alone?

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