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Is therapy a good strategy to deal with stress? A clinical psychologist answers

Published on:11 May 2021, 13:07pm IST
We’ve all experienced stress, but is it a good idea to see a therapist if things don’t seem under control? A mental health expert speaks on the topic.
Grace Bains
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Clinical psychologist Dr Bhavna Barmi speaks on the importance of therapy for stress management. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

We’ve all experienced stress in different ways. Whether it is the night before an examination, or trying to meet deadlines at your workplace, stress is a part and parcel of a fast-paced life. We all find ourselves in situations that are challenging, which put us under pressure. Such situations are what cause stress but once resolved, the feeling of stress disappears as well. But, what happens when this feeling of stress is prolonged and follows you around like a shadow?

With growing awareness about mental health, people are acknowledging the grave effects that stress can have on one’s state of mind. Rise in stress levels can cause changes in appetite (too little or too much), can heavily impact sleep patterns and contribute to mood swings. What’s more, stress causes an increase in the hormone cortisol which can lead to physical ailments such as heart issues and skin problems.

But there’s a burning question most people are grappling with: it’s whether stress calls for an appointment with a mental health expert? We spoke to renowned clinical psychologist Dr Bhavna Barmi, who shed light on the question at hand. According to her, you can take active steps to bring down stress levels, but there are certain situations in which you would ideally require therapy to overcome stress.

She says, “One should consider going for therapy, when something causes distress and interferes with any part of life.”

Dr Bhavna mentions the following five situations:
1. Thinking about or coping with the issue takes up at least an hour each day

We all face problems in life, but if you’ve been fixating on the issue and spend considerable time in a day thinking about it, you need to acknowledge that it causes a rise in your stress levels.

Stress and anxiety can mess up your personal and professional life. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
2. The issue causes embarrassment or makes you want to avoid others

Who doesn’t make mistakes in life? That’s how you learn how to live. But, feeling embarrassed, especially to a point that you begin to avoid people is a warning sign that stress is affecting your life in a big way.

3. The issue has decreased the quality of your life

Many of us don’t even realise it, but stress can lead to deterioration in the quality of life. You should speak with a mental health professional, if you believe this is happening with you.

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4. The issue has negatively affected school, work, or relationships

If you’re constantly dealing with stress, your performance at work or school may take a hit. It could also lead to the development of negativity in your personal relationships.

5. You’ve made changes in your life or developed habits to cope with the issue

If the stressful situation you’re in is forcing you to make changes to your life or causing you to develop self-destructive habits to cope, you should look at professional help to reduce your stress levels.

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Dr Barmi adds, “If you experience stressful emotions or feelings to the extent that they interfere with life, therapy may help you reduce their effects. It’s especially important to consider getting help, if you feel controlled by symptoms. Therapy acts as a safe space to talk through life challenges such as breakups, grief, parenting difficulties, or family struggles.”

We all go through stress but if it reaches a level where it interferes with your life, you should definitely look at therapy.

Grace Bains Grace Bains

Grace is someone who likes writing enough to make a living out of it. When she isn’t writing, you will find her having chai and reading a book.