Daily life is full of mental ups and downs. Some people can live well with their problems by talking to friends or letting off stress through a hobby or pastime. Others find it hard to restore that state of inner balance. If, even after several weeks, you find that you are struggling to move past a down cycle, it might help to seek support from a professional psychologist. Arrange an initial appointment with a psychotherapist to discuss your symptoms and receive professional advice about whether more extensive therapy is necessary. Your general practitioner can also help you identify whether you need help from a specialist. Because many mental illnesses are associated with physical symptoms, including stomach pain and poor sleep, doctors are trained to check whether your physical symptoms might have a mental origin. Where necessary, he or she can refer you to a specialist.
Initial questions to ask yourself
If you would like to understand more clearly whether you are a candidate for psychotherapy, answering the following questions may help you:
- Am I not myself? Do I feel different from how I usually feel?
- Does the way I’ve changed bother me?
- Is there an explanation for the change?
- Does the explanation insufficiently account for the duration and severity of the trouble I’m having?
- Has it become a struggle to perform my day-to-day work?
- Am I constantly worried and anxious?
- Do I suffer from any physical ailments?
- Do I have a sleeping disorder? Do I sleep too little or too much?
- Do I often feel aggressive, hateful or irritable, or am I very intolerant?
- Am I often on sick leave?
- Do I have suicidal thoughts?
- Do I hardly have anyone left to talk to about my problems?
- Does speaking to friends about how I’m feeling no longer help?
- Is the change in me clearly noticeable to others, as well?
- Have I been feeling like this for more than three months?
- Am I ambivalent about everything?
(Source: Rosemarie Piontek: Mut zur Veränderung Methoden und Möglichkeiten der Psychotherapie. Bonn, 2009)