The number of people who decide to start a psychotherapy process increases every time; It is a path of internal research whose objective is to look inside, to connect with our emotions, to know ourselves with kindness and acceptance, and to grow as people. Start seeing the world with other eyes.
It is a process from which we can all benefit; each of us has problems to solve, unfulfilled desires, unsatisfying relationships and unresolved conflicts with someone (it can be several people).
In this article, it aims to explain the basic criteria to tell us if we are going through a psychological problem and most likely we cannot continue without the help of a professional in psychology or psychiatry.
The keys to know if I need professional psychological help
In my practice, there are four criteria that help me recognize if a patient has a medical condition (disorder): frequency, intensity, duration and degree of affectation.
I will take a depressive episode and its most common symptoms (sadness, irritability, lack of enthusiasm, etc.) as an example to explain each of these criteria, so that it is more understandable and useful to people who read it.
The first criterion is frequency. Let’s say we feel irritable: how often do I have episodes of irritability? Is it every day, is it 3 or 4 times a day?
There is a big difference between being in a bad mood, denying and arguing once in a while and doing it every day; it is here that we see the importance of frequency. Getting upset because things don’t go your way is perfectly healthy.
However, having constant irritability and personal problems can be something we must keep in mind to know if we have a problem.
In the same way, pay attention to the duration of our symptoms; it’s not the same to feel depressed for a few days than for the last 3 weeks; just as it is not the same to feel sad for a few hours because we remember something that moved us than to be with that sadness all day. The duration of symptoms can tell us a lot about whether we have a picture or not.
When I say intensity, I mean the gI wonder how we feel these emotions or how disturbing they can be. In this indicator it is useful to remember that we have a thermometer with which we will measure our emotions, and we will take 1 as the minimum, 5 or 6 as the midpoint and 10 as the maximum, in this way we will be more aware of our emotions and their intensity, as well as to follow their progress over the days.
4. Degree of affectation
Likewise, the criterion to which I pay the most attention is the degree of affectation. Let’s take back the sadness; if it allows us to work, to study, to spend time with our family or friends, to have the same motivation and the same desire to do things and carry out our activities with the same degree of functionality to which we are accustomed, I would say that we do not have a big problem However, if this sadness is so intense that it does not allow us to carry out our functions as always and that we have lost the desires, the motivation and the facility for the fill in, then I could say that we need help.
Each of these criteria It should not be taken separately; the intensity is not in itself an indicator of a psychological problem and a sufficient reason to need professional help. Let’s continue with the same example: sadness needs a minimum duration, a set of recognizable symptoms, a high intensity, a frequency of daily symptoms (several times a day) and a degree of important assignment to be diagnosed as depression It is important to pay attention to each of these criteria because, on their own, they do not tell us much.
How to do?
In reality, it’s not that difficult, just start asking yourself “how are we” and/or “how are we feeling” every day (but we don’t stay in “good”, “bad” or “more or less”, let’s be more precise) and from there, our emotional state will become clearer.
Remember that if by doing this examination you realize that you have unpleasant emotions that are very frequent, long-lasting, intense and that affect you on a daily basis, it may be time to start your psychotherapy process; do not hesitate to consult a mental health professional.