About one in four Americans is affected by a mental disorder in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. How many of those seek help from a mental health professional? Not nearly enough. So quite a few people suffer who might not have to if they sought help.

But how do you know when it makes sense to check your fear and misgivings at the door and open up to a professional? Everyone has grief and stress and conflict in their lives. Often with very good reason. A certain amount is entirely normal. So how do you know when it makes sense to seek therapy?

It\’s time to see a therapist when:

1) You\’re not feeling like ‘you.\’ We all get unhappy and upset, but when you\’re overwhelmed by intense sadness or anger on a regular basis, there might be an underlying issue that a therapist could help you with. If your feelings of sadness become hopelessness, and you wonder whether life is worth living, then you should seek help right away.

2) You\’ve suffered a loss that you can\’t shake. The death of a loved one can be traumatic. Or the loss of a job. Or a financial misfortune. Or a divorce, which can often feel like a death. Or an act of violence against you. There are so many tragedies in life, especially when they happen to you in a short period of time, that can leave you in a slump that\’s hard to get out of by yourself.

3) You\’re using drugs or alcohol to cope. When you turn outside yourself to make yourself feel better or to numb your feelings altogether, it\’s a sign you need help. If you\’re thinking about drinking or drugs more often, and you can control your desire less and less, you may be struggling with addictive or compulsive behavior. That\’s when your coping solution creates even more stress. Therapy can help.

4) You\’ve stopping doing things that used to bring you joy. Your relationships are strained, and you can\’t seem to get that good feeling back about your spouse, your friends, your family. You feel disconnected from activities that used to be fun, and there\’s a general feeling of malaise. You\’re not performing well at work when you used to love your job. Any or all of these may be a sign that you should talk to a professional.

Most people can benefit from therapy at some time in their lives. Many resist because of the lingering stigma that you have to be crazy to seek help. Or that it costs the earth. Or both. But, in fact, there are often affordable options—ask your therapist. And sometimes you have to be a little crazy NOT to seek therapy when it could clearly do you some good. Think of it as another good, healthy choice you can make about your life, like exercising and eating right.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional.  If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.  You can reach her here: https://nancyscounselingcorner.com/contact-us.