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How to Know When You Should Seek Help for Mental Health

Mental health problems are becoming increasingly prevalent in today’s fast-paced, often uncertain world. Around 1 in 4 people suffer from some form of mental illness at some point in their lives. Stressful life events, such as loss of employment, relationship difficulties, bereavement, and money troubles, can often trigger or contribute to mental illnesses. However, there can also be other factors, like a family history of mental illness.


There are millions of people suffering from mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety disorders that usually present with mild to moderate symptoms and are sometimes manageable without treatment. Some individuals, however, experience more severe symptoms of these conditions. Many others live with less common, yet challenging conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and personality disorders.


It’s important to know that you aren’t alone, and there is hope. Don’t wait for things to get worse before acting. These types of problems can negatively impact your life, your family, and your career. The good news is that mental health professionals can effectively treat these issues. After completing treatment, most patients report significant improvements in their symptoms, a more satisfying and fulfilling life, and an overall higher quality of life.

When to Get Help

In order to know when, where, and how to get treatment, there are many important factors to consider. The severity of your subjective distress, how well you function at work and at home, and the nature of your symptoms are some of these factors. Below are some common symptoms that may be an indication you need to talk to a trained mental health professional.

In Adults

  • Confused thinking 
  • Prolonged depression (sadness or irritability)
  • Feelings of extreme highs and lows
  • Excessive fears, worries, and anxieties
  • Social withdrawal
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Delusions or hallucinations

In Teens and Adolescents 

  • Substance abuse
  • Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Excessive complaints of physical ailments
  • Defiance of authority, truancy, theft, and/or vandalism
  • Intense fear of weight gain
  • Prolonged negative mood, often accompanied by poor appetite
  • Frequent outbursts of anger

In Younger Children and Pre-Adolescents

  • Changes in school performance
  • Poor grades despite strong efforts
  • Excessive worry or anxiety (i.e. refusing to go to bed or school)
  • Hyperactivity
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Persistent disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums

Where to Get Help

Your options for seeking help will depend on whom you are seeking help for (an adult or child) as well as the nature of the problem and/or the symptoms you are experiencing. Local mental health organizations are often the best place to start. Finding one can be as easy as a quick Google search. A primary care doctor is also a good person to talk to if you think you may need to see a professional for your mental health, and can usually suggest a psychologist or psychiatrist to contact. 

Just keep in mind:

  • It is possible to receive referrals from your family doctor, clergy person, or a local office of Mental Health America (which may also provide mental health services) and local crisis centers. If you can, get a few names to interview before choosing.
  • Mental health services are provided by your local health department or community mental health center on a sliding scale for free or low cost. Funding for these services is provided by the state Mental Health Department, and they are obligated to first serve those who meet priority population criteria.
  • If your insurance plan includes providers, you can ask your insurer for a list of local options.
  • Medicare makes a list of participating doctors available on its website, http://www.medicare.gov. (Click on “Find doctors & other health professionals”)
  • You can find a list of Medicaid providers by clicking on the name of your state at https://www.benefits.gov/benefits/browse-by-category/category/MED

Choosing the Right Care Provider

When you’ve found a doctor or therapist who sounds good, take a few minutes to speak with them over the phone. Find out how they approach working with patients, their philosophy, and whether or not they have any specialties or concentrations. The next step is to make an appointment if you feel comfortable. At your first appointment, the therapist or doctor will wish to get to know you and to learn more about the reasons for your visit. You will discuss topics with them like what you believe the problem is; your life; what you do; and where you live and with whom you live. It is also typical for them to ask you about family and friends. The professional can use this information to assess your situation and develop a treatment plan.


Through the therapeutic process, you will gradually feel less distress, develop self-confidence, gain greater control over decision-making, and become more comfortable in your relationships. Therapy can sometimes be painful or uncomfortable, but discomfort is frequently a sign of a successful therapy session. Getting help with your mental health can help you cope with uncomfortable feelings more effectively.

Life Adjustment Team

If you’re looking for treatment in the Los Angeles area, Life Adjustment Team can help. At LAT we have the training, knowledge, and experience to help you or your loved one take on your problems and find a treatment plan that works. Our Team has a proven track record of helping people gain self-confidence, find direction, and overcome their problems going back over 40 years. Contact our Clinical Team to get started today!