If you’re in crisis, please reach out to a crisis line or go to your nearest emergency room.

How do I know if I need therapy?

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People talk about therapy, but how do you know if it’s what you need? We’ll walk you through 15 signs you may benefit from working with a therapist.

If you’re concerned about your mental health, or a loved one’s mental health, you’re not alone. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five people in the U.S. meet criteria for a mental health condition each year and more than 50% do in their lifetime.1 Unfortunately, less than half of people experiencing a mental health condition get treatment.

So how do you know if you need therapy?

If any of the following signs describe you, you may benefit from working with a therapist:

  1. Your emotions feel out of control
  2. It’s hard to stop thinking about the same negative things (e.g., “Nothing will work out for me”, “No one likes me”)
  3. You’re struggling in your relationships
  4. You’re withdrawing from your loved ones
  5. You’re struggling to adjust to big changes in your life (e.g., divorce, new medical diagnosis)
  6. A traumatic experience is making it hard to function
  7. You’re having a hard time taking care of yourself (e.g., sleep, diet, hygiene)
  8. Your mental health is affecting your physical health (e.g., headaches, stomachaches)
  9. Your mental health is getting in the way of your work or school
  10. The things you’re doing to cope only make you feel worse
  11. You keep trying to change a behavior (e.g., drinking alcohol, yelling) but nothing seems to work
  12. You don’t feel like yourself
  13. You feel unmotivated or don’t care about things that are usually important to you
  14. It’s hard to see things getting better
  15. You’re ready to change but aren’t sure where to start

Remember that you know yourself best. In general, the more of these signs you notice and the longer you notice them, the more likely therapy may be a positive step in getting better. If you’re still unsure about seeking therapy, it may help to talk about your mental health with a loved one you trust, doctor, or mental health provider to help you make the decision. Tell them about the changes in your mental health that you’re most concerned about.

If you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health crisis, you should not wait for a therapy appointment. You should take immediate steps to keep yourself and others safe, which may include going to the emergency room, calling a crisis line, or calling 911.

How to get help

If you decide that therapy is what you need, cost or lack of culturally sensitive care should never get in the way. Search Therapy4thePeople’s directory of free and low-cost mental health supports to start your therapy journey today. 

For tips on finding a therapist on a budget, check out our Therapy Financial Aid 101 guide. For tips on finding culturally sensitive, affirming, and accessible care for your identity or background, check out our guides for finding the right therapist if you’re Black or African American, Latino/x/e or Hispanic (English, Español), Asian American or Pacific Islander, LGBTQ+, or have a disability.

1Mental health by the numbers. (2021, March 1). National Alliance on Mental Illness. Retrieved October 23, 2021, from https://www.nami.org/mhstats.

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