For Parents – 10 Signs That You Need to See a Professional
That’s a tough question, but it’s one that you must consider if you’re often struggling to cope or if others have expressed concern about how you’re handling things. It can be very difficult to admit that there is a problem. However, if you have children, you owe it to them to swallow your pride and take that first step towards getting help.
Following are 10 signs that you need to see a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional for an evaluation. It should be noted that a physical evaluation may also be necessary to rule out any medical problems that may contributing to or causing the problem.
- You frequently feel sad or depressed. Depression afflicts millions of adults and can range from mild to severe. Depression makes it difficult to find the energy and motivation to be a good parent. It robs you of joy and can negatively impact your sleep, appetite, concentration, and self-esteem. With depression, everything can seem overwhelming and even the smallest tasks become difficult. In the most serious cases, it can lead to suicidal thoughts and behavior.
- You have a lot of anger and / or lose your temper often. Unresolved anger not only uses up a lot of your energy, it also often ends up directed at others – especially your children. The inability to control your anger puts you at risk for becoming physically or emotionally abusive.
- You frequently worry or feel anxious. Anxiety or excessive worry can take a tremendous toll on you – and those around you. It’s impossible to enjoy life or function at your best if you’re unable to feel relaxed and calm. Your children will sense your anxiety and may begin to feel anxious as well.
- You’re having a hard time functioning normally. Any negative changes in your ability to function should be taken seriously. These changes could be due to a variety of different things, including severe stress, anxiety, depression, and many other disorders.
- Your behavior or moods are erratic. When your moods or behaviors are inconsistent or unpredictable, it puts everyone around you on edge. You won’t be able to provide your children with the stability and predictability that they need, and it will negatively impact other areas of your life as well.
- You’re self-medicating unpleasant thoughts or feelings. If you’re using alcohol, drugs (including prescription or over the counter medications), food, sex, or gambling as a way to cope, then it’s time to seek help. Often, there is an underlying issue (or disorder) that needs to be addressed.
- You’re struggling with recent or past trauma. Trauma takes a toll on everyone, but some people have a very difficult time letting it go and moving on. If you have a history of trauma (e.g. abuse of any kind or a devastating loss) or recently experienced a traumatic event, therapy can help you find ways to cope with the feelings and move on with your life.
- You have a very low self-esteem. It’s normal to have some minor issues with your self-esteem. However, if yours is quite low – for example, you often perceive yourself as worthless, useless, unlovable, or a loser – then you won’t be able to be the positive, healthy role model that your children deserve and need.
- You’re abusive to your children (or others) in any way (physically, emotionally, or sexually), or feel that you’re on the verge of losing control and becoming abusive. Abuse of any kind leaves permanent scars on children and significantly increases their risk for a variety of problems throughout their life.
- You’re stuck in your grief. Grieving is a process that takes time, but in normal cases it does have an end. However, some people get stuck in their grief and are unable to let go of the pain. Unresolved grief will impact your life in many ways, and will likely interfere with your parenting in one form or another.
Seeking professional help does not mean that you’re a bad person, a failure, or crazy. It does mean that you recognize that there’s a problem, you care about your children’s well-being, and value yourself enough to do something to improve your life so that everyone benefits. When you’re feeling good and functioning well, you’ll be able to give your children the love and positive attention they deserve.