Mental health issues aren’t always as black and white as you might expect. The signs of depression don’t always manifest as sadness, and the symptoms of anxiety aren’t always as blatant as frequent panic attacks. Knowing when it’s time to hit the therapist’s couch or to schedule an online session from the comfort of your own couch, is not always as clear cut as you might assume.
Did you know depression is the leading cause of disability in the US, and anxiety the most common mental illness? Despite the prevalence of depression and anxiety, between 30 to 40 percent of people don’t seek treatment. If you don’t know the subtle signs of these issues, you may not find help when you need it. 
If you have no history of mental health issues and no experience understanding it through the experience of friends or family, you might not immediately notice when your mental health starts to slide. Mental illness often comes on gradually, which makes it harder to recognize. Even more challenging, many of the most common signs of aren’t the stereotypes we’ve come to associate with mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
There is also an argument to made that every single one of us can benefit from regular therapy. Nearly 25 percent of us will experience mental health issues at some point in our life – but counselors offer much more than mental health services. From relationships advice to personal growth to professional development – therapists provide a wide range of expertise beyond treatment for mental health diagnosis.
The following list is only some of the most common signs you may benefit from the experience of an online counselor – you might find some of them unexpected. Do any of the following signals ring true for you?
You Feel Out of Control and Highly Emotional
One of the most evident signs that you may need to speak with an expert is your stress management skills. Sudden outbursts, irrational emotional reactions, and irritability are all signs you are under more stress than you might initially realize. If your mind and body are already carrying a heavy burden, you’ll find it challenging to cope with minor disruptions. Instead of rolling with the punches, you’ll buckle, and your emotions act up in ways they usually wouldn’t.
An online therapist, just like a conventional therapist, works with you to deal with the stress you are already under, as well as manage the wild emotions you may have lost control of. You’ll learn emotional intelligence, or the ability to understand your feelings, those of others, and how to control them healthily.
2. You Don’t Feel Anything Anymore
On the flip side, another indicator of emotional distress is experiencing no emotions at all. Your loss of interest may have slowly developed over time, but now you notice an emptiness and dullness to your emotional state. One of the key symptoms of depression is a lack of interest, even in activities you formerly found exciting.
You might find it surprising to hear that the stereotypes we’ve long associated with depression aren’t always apparent. True, some people experience overwhelming sadness, but others end up feeling nothing at all. Even sex no longer holds any appeal. If this sounds familiar, it’s time to speak with a counselor.
3. You Drink or Smoke Marijuana to Relax
If you have noticed an uptick in the amount of alcohol or drugs you consume, it’s a cause of concern. Subtle changes in your consumption habits may indicate you are developing dependence and may be using substances to manage deeper issues.
According to most research, there are two reasons people rely on alcohol, the first is to cope with discomfort and the second is to improve socialization. The next time you crack open a beer after work or pour a glass of wine, consider if you are using it to “escape, avoid, or regulate unpleasant emotions.” 
Or do you use alcohol to lubricate social situations? As in are you only drinking to make the experience less stressful and more comfortable? The reasons behind your drinking may be a clear signal of unaddressed issues or an undiagnosed social anxiety disorder.
4. You Avoid Social Situations at all Costs
Not every social situation is a pleasant one, and not everyone is an extroverted, social butterfly. However, if you find yourself increasingly avoiding social interactions because of discomfort, fear, and embarrassment, you might have a social anxiety disorder.
Human connection and personal relationships are crucial to mental health. Social anxiety can lead to isolation, depression, and more. Today, there are more than 15 million Americans with a social anxiety disorder, and 36 percent waited 10 or more years before seeking help. Online therapy reduces inhibitions and lowers the perceived barriers for seeking help, especially for those coping with social anxiety.
5. You Feel Alone and Unsupported
No matter the makeup of your family, there are times when even a loving and supportive home no longer offers the level of support you need. If you are coping with anxiety, depression, or another mental illness, you might find it challenging to get the level of assistance you need from friends and family alone. A counselor is in your corner, working with you and supporting you through the healing process.
And what if your family isn’t supportive at all? What if you are living with a spouse, and feel utterly alone? Lean on a therapist, and their years of experience to transform your life.
6. You Only See the Worst in Situations
Is your nickname is “Debbie Downer” or “Negative Nancy?” If you can only see the negative, and struggle to find positive from your daily life, this is another sign it’s time to chat with a trained professional. Life does have ups and downs, but it’s valuable to know how to turn it around and see the bright side.
A consistently negative outlook is a sign of depression and anxiety. Your brain has dug in deep to these ruts of negative thoughts, and it can take a while to reroute them into a positive outlook on life. Again, not every day is going to be a walk through the park, but learning to pull yourself out of a negative spiral life skill.
7. You Want to Work on Personal Growth
Athletes work with personal trainers and business executives with professional coaches; sometimes we all need someone behind us. Imagine where you could be with someone pushing you to become a better version of yourself? Even if your mind and body are healthy, it can help to have someone to learn from and more importantly, to be accountable for personal development.
If you have hit barriers at work, in life, or in love, an expert is available on that very issue. As Ryan Ryan Howes PhD, stated for Psychology Today “Who wouldn’t benefit from meeting with a professional listener/problem solver once per week to take stock of their life and work on reducing struggle or attaining personal potential and life satisfaction?” 
8. You Have Experienced Trauma
By some estimates, the majority of American adults will experience trauma within their lifetime. That’s 50 to 60 percent of people working around with the lingering effects. Trauma, whether experienced as a child or as an adult, has ripple effects for years to come.
Did you know childhood trauma is a predictor for future mental health issues? Trauma increases your risk factor for depression, anxiety, and addiction. With the support of a therapist, learn how to understand your history, to process it, and to move through it in a healthy manner. If you have suffered physical, verbal, sexual, or emotional abuse, it’s time to speak with someone who has dedicated their life to helping people work through their past traumas. 
9. You are Eating More (or Eating Less)
Mental illness can often trigger changes in appetite. Binging or starving are both signs of something more profound. Did you know the same regions of the brain responsible for major depressive disorder are also responsible for appetite regulation? There may be a reason why you suddenly binge through bags of chips and junk food or find yourself going days without sustenance.
Dramatic changes in your usual appetite could reveal your mind is under a lot of pressure, and it no longer has the mental capacity needed to manage your appetite. With the help of a counselor, you’ll get to the bottom of these changes and address the root causes.
10. Others are Concerned About You
Lastly, has a close friend or family member pulled you aside recently and let you know they are concerned about your behavior? It’s often hard to hear outside feedback like this, and you may have brushed it aside. But, their concern is worth considering.
Are they worried about your drinking? Are they concerned about sudden reckless decisions? Maybe you’ve had friends concerned you no longer leave the house, or coworkers ask about your stress levels. Hard to hear, yes, but valuable feedback about your mental state. They may see indicators you don’t, and it could be worthwhile to speak with a counselor to get an unbiased third opinion.
So, Who Needs Therapy?
Technically speaking, one in four adults will at some point experience a mental health issue. Which means at the very least, one in four of us could benefit from therapy. But outside of a diagnosis, there are many other reasons to set up an online session.
If you are human, chances are you’ll learn valuable skills and see positive personal growth from speaking with an online counselor. Arguably every one of us could benefit from a counselor’s sage advice and guidance. From improving relationships to working through past traumas to delving into personal growth, there is a counselor trained to work on that. Instead of asking, “Who needs therapy?” it’s may be more appropriate to ask “Who doesn’t need therapy?”