What is it like to consult a psychologist?
If you have not previously seen a psychologist it can feel strange. We do not normally speak to a stranger about things which are possibly hard to verbalise or discuss. You may be unsure how to start and wonder whether you will be able to express your experiences and concerns. We know that it is difficult and generally the psychologist you consult will give some direction to the discussion and ensure that you are able to express yourself in such a way that you are understood. People often express a fear that they will be judged. We are human and have had numerous very human experiences. We do not judge; we are more interested in understanding your experience.
Am I depressed?
A depressed mood is common to a number of mental illnesses. If you have any of the following symptoms it may be worthwhile consulting a psychologist: a depressed, despondent or irritable mood more often than not, a loss of interest or enjoyment in things, poor concentration, a loss of energy, sleep and/or appetite disturbances, suicidal thoughts, plans to commit suicide or recurrent thoughts of death.
Do I need treatment after a traumatic event?
In general, treatment is not necessary. A few days which are difficult and during which you often think of the traumatic event are normal and to be expected. More than ninety per cent of people will have no long-lasting symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). You may need help if after approximately a month you find that you are often reliving the event with distress, if you are avoiding activities or people who remind you of the event, if you are becoming emotionally blunted and if your are having emotional outbursts or are very jumpy or struggling to sleep. You may also find that you are depressed or very anxious. If a traumatic event is affecting your day-to-day life, it is worthwhile consulting a psychologist.
I worry all the time and am always anxious.
A general anxiety disorder reminds of depression in many ways, such as difficulties with concentration, tiredness and irritability. Central symptoms are excessive uncontrolled worrying or anxiety. It is not necessary to live like this and it is worth consulting a psychologist.
What is a panic attack?
Panic attacks can be completely unexpected and can occur without a trigger. Panic attacks typically start abruptly and reach a peak within ten minutes. Typical symptoms include palpitations, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, a feeling of choking, chest pain, nausea, feeling dizzy, a fear of losing control, going crazy or dying, a feeling of tingling. A lot can be done to relieve the discomfort of panic attacks and it is worthwhile consulting a psychologist.
I fear speaking in front of people. I fear I will make a fool or myself or people will see my anxiety. Is this treatable?
Many people are afraid of speaking in groups of people and a fear of public speaking is probably the most common of the social phobias. Many people with social phobias are extremely self-conscious and find everyday activities such as walking past others, paying at tills and so on extremely difficult. You can be taught techniques to manage your anxiety.
What is bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder refers to a cycling mood. People who have bipolar will find that they move between depressive episodes (described elsewhere on this website) and manic episodes. In a manic episode your mood is very positive or irritable. You may feel that you can accomplish anything and have so much energy that you do not need sleep. Your thoughts may race or you may be very talkative. You may engage in pleasant but potentially harmful activities such as spending money, sex or unwise business ventures. Bipolar has a genetic element and has a strong biochemical basis. You will have to consult a psychiatrist, but a psychologist can assist you in managing the condition.
I cannot sleep. Must I worry about it?
There is not a simple answer to this question. The first step is to determine why you do not sleep. A number of mental illnesses such as depression and posttraumatic stress disorder can lead to insomnia. But, you may simply have poor sleep hygiene. It is worthwhile speaking to a psychologist in order to work out what the reason for not sleeping is.
Must I take suicide threats seriously?
Yes. Even if they are being made in order to attempt to get attention they should be taken seriously. Contact a psychologist or psychiatrist. If someone has had an attempt they must be taken to an emergency room. Medical schemes do not pay for suicide attempts so take the person to a government hospital or prepare to pay cash for treatment.
Is it time to end this relationship?
Unresolved conflicts can eventually erode a relationship. When harshness, contempt for each other and stony silences define the relationship it is probably time to consider ending the relationship. Serious problems which should receive attention include poor communication, unresolved fidelity, a lack of commitment to the relationship, uncontrolled anger, including domestic violence. :
Am I emotionally healthy?
You are if:
- You are at ease with yourself and with other people;
- You can form open and caring relationships with other people;
- You can develop and use your mental and physical abilities to the full;
- You have peace of mind, and are able to enjoy life, at work and when relaxing;
- You have a good balance between work and relaxation.
Can psychologists help with work stress?
Difficult work situations can result in mental health problems such as episodes of depression or anxiety. Underlying problems such as work pressure, uncertainty regarding the future, retrenchment, incompetent managers and difficult colleagues can make work a stressful experience. It can be helpful to consider different options together with a psychologist. You can also be taught skills which can help you in dealing with a difficult supervisor or colleague and how to cope with work stress.
What is the difference between a heavy drinker and an alcoholic?
The difference lies in control. If the drinker can close the bottle, put it away and stop drinking, he or she is still in control. Even if the drinker only occasionally loses control, he or she has a problem. Effective treatment can only start when the alcoholic acknowledges the problem, decides to stop drinking and is desperate to regain control. Admission to an inpatient clinic is generally necessary in starting treatment. For the alcoholic, maintaining sobriety is the most challenging part of recovery. Research suggests a recovery period of two years after treatment and this makes aftercare crucial. Family, friends and colleagues often suffer when someone abuses alcohol. They may find it helpful to consult a psychologist in order to cope with the effect of a family member’s alcohol abuse.
I have problems with self-esteem and struggle with motivation can you help?
Do you feel you are not good enough? You may find that you struggle with a sense of self and find that you cannot define who you are, what your strengths and weaknesses are, or what you want. You may find that you tend to please others, rather than taking responsibility for your decisions. You can be helped to understand the reasons for feeling the way you do and in finding ways to resolve these problems.
I battle with studying and struggle with exam stress can you help?
If you are not getting the results you should be achieving, it may be your study methods that are the problem. You may find it useful to discuss what method works best for you with a psychologist. Psychologists can help you with stress reduction techniques if you find that you are struggling to do exams because of anxiety.
I am confused about what to study and what work to do must I see a shrink?
Are you in grade 10-12 and are you unsure of what career to follow? You may have lost motivation for what you are studying or the work you are doing. A psychologist can assist you in deciding what to do and help you in setting goals to help you through the process of making changes.
I have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Can a psychologist help?
Psychologists can help individuals and families come to terms with the diagnosis. They can help them deal with the emotional effects and make necessary behavioural changes
Does my child need to see a psychologist?
Typical problems which parents consult a psychologist for include;
- Temper tantrums;
- Thumb sucking;
- Hitting and bullying;
- Arguing about going to bed;
- Arguing in the morning;
- Physical and sexual abuse;
- When should children stop bathing together;
- Getting kids to do homework;
- Changing bad habits;
- Giving pocket money;
- Your child’s concentration at school.