University of Illinois Extension

Controlling Stress

When To Get Help

Sometimes things may get so difficult and out of control that you may need to get professional help. In every community, resources such as the family doctor, mental health professionals, support groups and clergy exist. They can help you deal with extreme levels of stress and the physical and emotional trauma that often accompany them.

The following symptoms indicate a need for outside help.

  • Feeling depressed. (Some signs are crying for no reason, lack of personal care, feeling as if you don’t want to do anything, fatigue, unreasonable fears, inability to concentrate, change in appetite.)
  • Changed sleeping patterns. (Sleeping too much, difficulty falling asleep, waking a lot during the night and too early in the morning.)
  • Abusing family members.
  • Thinking about suicide.
  • Disciplining too harshly.
  • Hallucinating (you hear voices or see things that are not there).
  • Considering separation from your spouse.
  • Thinking of nothing good to say.
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol. (This could be drinking in the morning, hiding liquor so no one knows you are drinking, drinking more than two or three drinks or beers every night.)
  • Feeling guilty, as though you aren’t being a good parent to your kids.
  • Experiencing isolation. (You don’t know anyone to talk to and you have a strong need to talk to someone.)
  • Making excuses for your situation or lying about your situation.
  • Having attacks when you feel extremely panicky (may also have high pulse rate and difficulty breathing).
  • Feeling overwhelmed by life.

Before your problems become too big to handle, find a trained, skilled counselor to help you and your family cope with this crisis. A family counselor can help you handle your fears, adjust to your present situation, and plan adequately for the future. Health insurance may help pay for counseling costs. Some counselors charge on a sliding scale — depending on your ability to pay. Your religious leader may provide counseling at no cost to you.

For a list of agencies that can help, see Community Agencies That Can Help.

For information on support needed during stress, see Identifying Sources of Support and Friendship.

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