When should I see a doctor for mental health therapy?

Sudeepta Varma, MD
Most of us will have days when our mood is low or times when we feel a bit worried-perhaps a family member is ill, or we’ve recently lost our job. Most of us will have normal concerns about a wide variety of issues –finances, health and family. But we should not feel overly burdened or overwhelmed by them to the point that it starts affecting other aspects of our lives- for example, we start to notice that the stress in our life is causing a change in our sleep patterns- we are having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. We are feeling more tired than usual or perhaps we’re not spending as much time with friends or family anymore. Some of my patients tend to avoid socializing- “it’s too much effort” or have stopped going to the gym. Perhaps you feel feel restless, keyed up, on edge. People around you have noticed that your more irritable or not as pleasant to be around. Maybe we have a lot of muscle tightness or difficulty relaxing. We may start having certain unexplained medical symptoms- such as chronic aches, pains, headaches, stomach or intestinal problems despite having thorough medical work up. If you are noticing any of these changes- it is worthwhile discussing your mental health with your doctor. He or she can help assess an underlying issue with depression or anxiety or refer you to someone who can. Social anxiety, major depressive disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder may often present with some general issues of anxiety or low mood and can be treated with good success rates with a combination of medication and talk therapy.

A mental health therapy is a treatment option for a mental illness or a mental disorder and includes somatic and psychotherapeutic treatment. A mental illness is characterized by a persistent pattern of unusual behavior, feelings, thoughts, and actions. So if you suffer from unrelenting depression, hyperventilation, delusions, and obsessive actions, it is time to see a mental health practitioner.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.