How to Know When It’s Time for Professional Help: Part 1, First Clues

CompassionateLove Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness  (c)2017  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

“Depressed in bed over a year” is a Google search that landed someone on my post,   “My Depressed Loved One Won’t Get out of Bed. What Am I to Say?”  From the outside, it may seem obvious that someone in bed for over a year needs professional help. In the middle of the situation however, confusion can be blinding.

Our thinking processes are thrown into a blender sometimes when we face a mental health crisis. Stigma, myths, uncertainty, mixed messages, and our own lack of knowledge have us in a spin. We may know we need and even deserve to feel better, yet question if seeking help is a weakness or too expensive.

Confronted with Depression, either our own or a loved one’s, we do not always understand the symptoms. When is it time to stop fighting this without professional help?

There are clues. A brief series on this blog will try to cover most. Keep in mind, not every person will show the same symptoms or intensity of symptoms. These clues are meant as guides, not diagnostic tools. 

First Clues – Disrupted Function

Everyone gets the blues. We experience grief. Sometimes we burn-out or stress takes us to our bed for a few days.  Generally, we are functioning again within a few days. Emotional pain may continue, yet we go to work, carry on relationships, and grow stronger over time.

When our functioning is significantly impaired, we need help. Depression may have us staring off into space, barely capable of moving. We might call off work, cut off social interactions, or become irritable or withdrawn. Our job suffers, relationships suffer, and instead of feeling better, we are on a downward spiral in our minds.

At this point, we may hear family members and friends expressing concern or anger. We probably wish we could do better and be a better person. We question our value. Our physical health may suffer as we eat or sleep too much or not enough.

We may feel trapped by circumstances or by this mental enemy. We think, Today I am going to get this under control. I just have to focus. By noon we are spent. Efforts at pretending this mood is not all that bad are failing.

Blame can go anywhere – to our parents, our boss, brain chemicals, the devil, or on ourselves. It does not matter, because blame does not cure anything. Reaching out for support is difficult because we are likely in a mixed state of denial, pain, a sense of worthlessness, and confusion.

Yet that is what we need. By telling someone who knows how to react, we find out our options. Pastors,  counselors, good friends, and other confidants are often helpful. Some have more insight than others. Professional and licensed therapists are better trained. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who will focus on medication. Remember, you are dealing with an extreme emotional reaction that is neither your fault nor easily controlled. 

It does not hurt to ask for help.

opisimuToday’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 11: 2

“…with humility comes wisdom.   



NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help are yours.


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