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When is the right time to start therapy? Expert shares 10 signs

If you have already tried self-help tips like journaling and meditating with no improvement, the earlier you seek help, the better.

Pensive black man lying on couch [Photo: Alex Green]

Depression and anxiety are the two leading mental health conditions in Kenya, according to the Ministry of Health.

In fact, one in every four patients seeking medical attention has a mental health condition. Unfortunately, some of these patients do not know they have a mental health condition and, therefore, do not seek help.

See, when you have a headache, fever, or a running stomach, you’ll definitely know that you need to see a doctor. But what about mental health?

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While the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions might not always be as evident as those of a physical illness, knowing them will help you take the next step.

While stress is a normal thing, Dennis Mwangi, a mental health specialist and team leader at Mindful Kenya tells this writer that if an individual or their loved one has these signs, they need to seek help from a mental health specialist.

1. Always feeling overwhelmed

If you're constantly feeling overwhelmed, even when you're not in a situation that would typically be considered stressful, this could be a sign of an underlying mental health issue.

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2. Poor academic or work performance

If your anxiety or stress is impacting your ability to focus on your studies or work tasks, leading to a noticeable decline in your performance, it's a sign that professional help might be needed.

3. Difficulty in social situations

If you notice a marked increase in anxiety during social situations, and you start to avoid socializing altogether, it might indicate that your anxiety levels are higher than they should be.

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4. Change in appetite and weight

Significant changes in eating habits, such as loss of appetite or overeating, and unexplained weight loss or gain can be signs of a mental health condition.

5. Insomnia or excessive sleeping

If you're having persistent trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, or if you're sleeping too much, it could indicate that you might have stress or anxiety disorders.

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6. Physical symptoms

Persistent physical symptoms like stomachaches, headaches, or even chest pain, that are not associated with a physical condition, can often be a sign of stress and anxiety.

7. Withdrawal from regular activities

If you find yourself withdrawing from activities you used to enjoy, such as hobbies, sports, or hanging out with friends, it shows that your mental health needs attention.

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8. Increase in irritability or restlessness

If you find yourself getting easily irritated or agitated, or if you can't sit still, it might be time to seek help.

9. Excessive worrying

While it's normal to worry about things like exams or job performance, excessive worrying about various aspects of life might indicate a more serious issue..

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10. Feelings of hopelessness

Persistent feelings of despair or hopelessness, or thoughts about suicide, are serious and a clear sign that you urgently need help from a mental health professional.

If you have already tried self-help tips like journaling and meditating and are still exhibiting the above symptoms, Dennis reminds us that the earlier you seek help, the better.

“Remember, seeking help is not a sign of weakness. If you notice these signs, reaching out to a trusted adult or mental health professional can be a crucial step towards managing mental health conditions,” says Dennis.

Editor's Note: To speak to a mental health professional, dial *702*30# and follow the prompts, or download the Mindful Kenya app. To encourage free & open interaction with their specialists the organisation guarantees anonymity when you seek its services.

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