Many of us are more stressed than we’ve ever been. Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, 2019 statistics revealed that one in six South Africans sufferered from anxiety, depression or substance abuse problems, according to the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG). Medshield recently had a sit down with Johannesburg-based psychologist Jacqui Morgan of Morgan Practice about how to self-identify when it’s time to seek professional help.
“It is common and normal to experience feelings of anxiety, fear or worry during stressful times,” says Jacqui. She explained that changes in our thoughts, feelings and behaviours may be a “sane reaction to an insane world” at present. “It’s okay to not be okay – you have done nothing wrong, but it is not okay to stay there if you are starting to feel out of control,” she says.
Read our article “What Exactly Is The Difference Between Stress And Anxiety” for a list of physical symptoms as well as Jacqui’s breakdown of the two.
Time To Seek Help
Jacqui says that it is time to see a psychologist if you start to experience any of the following:
- “You are in danger of harming yourself or others in any way. This includes domestic violence, thoughts or plans of suicide and self-injurious behaviours, such as cutting your body.”
- “Your anxiety interferes with your cognitive (thinking), physical and behavioural functioning in performing your daily tasks effectively at home, school or work.” Jacqui suggests checking your behaviour and asking yourself: “Do you find yourself avoiding people, places or events or doing something to soothe increased anxiety before or afterwards, including self-medicating, substance use or perhaps risky sexual practices?”
- “You find yourself having emotional outbursts that feel difficult to control and that negatively affect your personal relationships.”
- “You experience sudden panic attacks or have repeated panic attacks. A panic attack can feel frightening – it comes out of nowhere; your heart races and you may think you’re having a heart attack. You may feel lightheaded and dissociated, like an out-of-body experience, and think that you’re going mad and you may feel trapped and experience the need to physically escape.” This might sound frightening, but it’s more common than you may realise.
How To Find A Psychologist
“Looking for a psychologist can feel daunting and scary and it is important to find a therapist that you feel comfortable with,” explains Jacqui. “To do so, you may need to visit more than one therapist to get a sense of who you connect with best.”
If you are unsure of where to start, speak to your family doctor or GP and ask for a recommendation. Alternatively, contact Medshield to help find a therapist within our network in your area.
Jacqui Morgan works with individuals and groups at a psychiatric residence and co-facilitates a DBT group for adolescents. She currently belongs to several academic groups where she continues her professional development and stays informed on best practice. Her approach is largely informed by a psychodynamic perspective, and she works with each client according to their needs. For more information and to book an appointment, she is available at Jacqui@morganpractice.co.za.