|Do I Need
Sometimes you just don't know if you need psychological help. You might be
unhappy, nervous, dissatisfied, or otherwise troubled, but you aren't sure if it is really
a problem you should seek help for.
To help you sort it out, we provide some information here about a
variety of psychological disorders and other problem areas that we commonly see.
For most of these topics, the descriptions apply more or less the same
to children, adolescents, and adults. Where there are differences, we have tried to point
These descriptions and lists are not intended to allow you to determine
whether you have a disorder, or to make a diagnosis of yourself or someone else.
Actual diagnosis requires the expertise of a trained professional. It
involves identifying patterns of symptoms and their severity, as well as consideration of
other possible syndromes and causes.
Furthermore, these descriptions are not intended to be complete or
exhaustive. We try to give you an idea of what these problems are like, but cannot cover
them in depth here. In addition, there are many other problems that people struggle with
that we do not discuss at all, but that might benefit from psychological treatment, such
as a basic dissatisfaction with life or issues related to life stages.
We suggest you use these lists only to see if your own experience fits
into what might be a treatable condition. If you find it does, or if it makes you wonder,
we encourage you to seek the professional opinion of a psychologist or physician. By
training and licensure, only a psychologist or physician can make diagnoses of mental
Click on the topic below
to get more information about the particular disorders in each category.
Warning Signs and Clues
||Sadness, anxiety, or
behavioral changes in response to some recent event or ongoing stressor. In children, you
also can see anger, withdrawal, a deterioration in school performance, or regression to
more childlike behaviors (e.g., thumb-sucking, bedwetting).
|Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse
||You worry sometimes about
your substance use, or someone else expresses concern; substance use is one of the most
important parts of your life; you miss work due to hangovers or being out late; you are
not performing as well at work, school, etc.; DUI's. In teenagers, warning signs include
skipping school, deterioration in grades, changes in peer group, unusual spending
patterns, and giving up favored activities.
||Periods of intense anxiety
or panic, feeling fearful in certain situations, or worrying much of the time. In addition
to these, children can become "clingy" and have trouble separating from parents.
They may resist going to bed or have trouble sleeping. Whining, becoming demanding,
tantrums, and regression (e.g., bedwetting) also could reflect anxiety.
|Attention and Learning
||Not living up to your
potential, struggling to learn, inability to sustain attention, or having problems with
particular academic subjects.
|Child Behavior Problems
||Refusal to follow rules,
refusal to obey legitimate authority figures, difficult to manage, poor peer
relationships, isolation, fighting, destructive behavior.
||Chronic pain often can be
helped with psychological interventions geared toward managing the pain more effectively
and allowing a more normal life.
|Dementia and Memory Problems
learning new information, problems with finding words or understanding language,
difficulty processing information or being much slower at it.
||Feeling unhappy, losing
pleasure in life, problems with sleeping/eating/energy, feeling like life is a strain,
irritability, etc. In addition to these, children might become "mopey" and show
changes in behavior, school performance, and peer relationships.
||Issues related to divorce
||Feeling too happy or
energetic for your own good, excessive irritability, mood swings, racing thoughts, rapid
speech, impulsive behavior.
||Difficulties with handling
emotions, self-regulating your behavior, maintaining healthy relationships, accurately
viewing the world, and meeting your responsibilities.
frequent anger, preoccupied with leaving a relationship, infidelity or strong temptation.
|Schizophrenia & Other Psychoses
||Problems with mental
disorganization, hallucinations, or delusions.
irritability, insomnia, feeling overwhelmed, distractibility, hurrying to deal with one
crisis after another, feeling burned out, hypertension, reflux disease.
||Warning signs for suicide
and what to do if someone might be suicidal.