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What does it take to get you to the doctor for a physical health issue? Maybe not much. A bad cough and fever might be enough, or a new pain that has you worried, or maybe a broken bone.

But what if you’ve noticed a troubling change in your mood, sleep patterns, work habits, gambling, drinking, or relationships? What if you start thinking about killing yourself? These are times when you should ask for help.

But for many people going to a company employee assistance program (EAP) or making an appointment with a therapist is hard to do.

Maybe it’s a feeling that you need to handle your problems alone. Maybe you’re embarrassed about talking about your feelings. Maybe you’re worried that the therapist will judge you or tell your boss or family that you’ve been to their office

Myth of mental illness as a sign of weakness

Advances in education and research have helped our understanding of mental illnesses, and the success of treatments. Experts now believe that mental illnesses are likely the result of chemical imbalances in the brain, A person with such an imbalance may inherit the condition, or it could be brought on by stress, drug misuse, or changes in your chemical makeup due to pregnancy, medicines, menopause or aging.

Mental illnesses can cause many types of behavior such as great sadness and irritability, and in dire cases, hallucinations and withdrawal. These behaviors cannot be changed at will and many times are out of your control.

The good news is that people with mental illnesses do get better and get back to normal life when they get the right support and care

Fear that seeking help may harm one’s job

Employees are protected by Laws, both as to privacy and nondiscrimination. If you don’t know these laws ask your employer. If your company offers an EAP, you can talk privately with an expert who can help you sort through your concerns and direct you to the right support.

Seeking help is best done early, before problems have snowballed into a crisis

Misconceptions about the therapy process

Some may be held back by false notions about the therapy process. Some people may be afraid of their own feelings, and of what might happen if they admit them.

Others might have fears about the sessions themselves. Therapy often isn’t a deep probe into childhood traumas and inner thoughts. It’s more like a short series of problem-solving sessions, focused on certain behaviors or thought patterns and learning techniques to change them. This type of therapy works well on issues that haven’t yet become job – or life – threatening crises.

The danger of waiting

It’s time to get help when your daily life is disrupted for two or more weeks.

And with thoughts of killing oneself, the risk of not getting help in time is far worse than a lost job or relationship. Planning for suicide is a red alert. Any time a person starts hoarding medicine or thinking about a suicidal act in other concrete terms, they better have an immediate plan to get help.

Telling another person about your issue is the first step to solving it, and maybe saving your life.

By Tom Gray
©2004-2021 Beacon Health Options

This article is bought to you by Achieve Solutions.

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