When Should I See a Psychiatrist?

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Mental health is a significant concern for many individuals, especially throughout the ongoing pandemic. The last two years have been marked by a tremendous increase in people who report anxiety, sleep disorders, depression, frustration, and issues coping with stress. 

Unfortunately, many people may resist seeking treatment for these mental health issues due to the stigma attached to receiving professional help. But the fact of the matter remains that many people need the medical care provided by a psychiatrist. 

Psychiatrists treat mental illness using medications, psychotherapy, psychosocial interventions, and alternative forms of therapy. 

Furthermore, many people may minimize the extent of their mental health struggles. At times people downplay the severity of their symptoms instead of attending to the distress of the emotions. It’s easy to think, oh, it’s just a bit of extra stress. I’ll be fine. But without addressing your mental health, these problems can build and manifest in physical ways.  

Chronic stress can cause or contribute to many emotional and physical ailments, such as: 

  • Headaches
  • Increase in or loss of appetite
  • Muscle tension in the neck, face, or shoulders
  • Problems sleeping
  • Racing heart
  • Grinding teeth or jaw problems
  • Dizziness or feelings of confusion
  • Exhaustion
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • A weakened immune system
  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Compulsive behavior

Addressing your mental health struggles with a professional offers a way to increase your coping skills. It can also reduce your chances of experiencing physical symptoms of stress. 

When Should I See A Psychiatrist?

It is time to throw off the stigma of seeking help and give access to it for those who need mental health care. In the United States, one in five adults deals with mental health conditions each year. One in twenty people deals with a severe mental health condition. 

Psychiatrists can benefit mental health in multiple ways. First, they can make accurate mental health diagnoses. They can also help patients recognize physical aspects that may contribute to their psychological concerns and prescribe appropriate medication. 

With this knowledge, psychiatrists can often assign appropriate therapies to alleviate symptoms and alter negative emotions, unrealistic thinking, and consequential behaviors.

But the question of whether or not you need a psychiatrist may come down to several concerns. Common reasons one will seek professional mental health care include:

  • Having a family history or genetic component linked to mental health problems.
  • Experiencing environmental stressors, such as those many people faced during the pandemic.
  • Identifying a chemical imbalance within the brain or experiencing brain trauma or infection.

While these groups of individuals are at an elevated risk for mental health issues, they are not the only ones who may experience symptoms. Therefore, even in the absence of identified risk factors, it may be advisable to seek out a psychiatrist if your mental health struggles become overwhelming. 

Continuing negative behaviors or thought patterns associated with mental health problems can have long-lasting consequences. An expert can help you to find the ability to cope better. And early intervention can often curb symptoms before they become severe. 

Some behavioral or emotional signs that it may be time to seek the help of a psychiatrist include:

  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
  • Thoughts of violence to others can be related to cognitive decline, paranoid delusions, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Delusions that may be associated with schizophrenia or a mood disorder.
  • Mood instability that can indicate bipolar disorder or a major depressive disorder.
  • Social isolation related to agoraphobia, panic disorder, or schizophrenia. These fears make it hard to complete everyday tasks related to employment, schooling, self-care, and relationship maintenance.
  • Significant behavior changes that could be associated with mania.
  • Cognitive decline or dementia that impacts your ability to function.
  • Eating disorders or body image problems as these can escalate quickly.
  • Difficulty regulating and controlling emotions or thought patterns.
  • Unexplained sudden health issues or physical illness.
  • Inadequate performance at work or school.
  • Sudden changes in sleep or appetite.
  • Excessive fears or constant worry.
  • Struggling to maintain and build relationships.
  • Unhealthy changes in sex drive.
  • Engaging in risky behavior.
  • Nightmares or sleep terrors.
  • Detachment from reality.
  • Undergoing a life-changing trauma, such as assault or a major accident.
  • Loss of interest in activities.
  • Grieving that renders one unable to function for a prolonged period.
  • Continuous or frequent anger.

This list may provide a good idea of when it is beneficial to seek the services of a psychiatrist. You may also find it is necessary to seek a psychiatrist if you have any symptoms that your primary care physician is not comfortable treating. 

Additionally, it is important to recognize that you do not have to experience these signs or symptoms to seek professional help. There does not have to be something overwhelmingly wrong to benefit from mental health care. If you believe you could benefit from seeing a psychiatrist, it may be a great idea to begin seeing one. 

It’s not a sign of weakness to seek help with mental health challenges. Instead, it is a sign of strength that you are willing to get help instead of allowing your mental health struggles to control your life. 

Some critical tips for finding a great psychiatrist include:

  • Asking friends or family for recommendations.
  • Calling and interviewing potential psychiatrists.
  • Identify what you would like to accomplish in therapy.
  • Searching online for those who specialize in conditions that you may have.

It is important to remain open-minded during the process. You can always go for an initial meeting with a psychiatrist without further obligation. 

As mental health issues continue to be a significant concern for many people, more and more may find it beneficial to see a psychiatrist. These professionals can help you gain more control over your emotions and moods and address any underlying physiological issues that may contribute to your condition.

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