What do we mean by saying that behaviour change begins with identifying the problem?

Well, it is an arduous task to identify and assume that there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

In case the psychological problem is still not clear, justifications are used so that it is not necessary to deal with it, even if it influences lives in a negative way, brings unpleasant symptoms or disrupts interpersonal relationships.

What often happens is that, even though they are aware that there is a need for help, the decision is postponed, thus helping the symptoms to intensify.

Thompson, Issakidis & Hunt (2008) clarify that the long wait to seek treatment is an aggravating factor and is also responsible for the lack of results during professional intervention.

A delay of 6 to 14 years through the disorders and an individual delay of more than 40 years to seek help were noticed by them.

Note how much time an individual can spend suffering before asking for help.

What symptoms appear the most?

It depends a lot on each case, but usually sadness, anguish, feeling of inadequacy, sensitivity to criticism, low self-esteem, difficulty in interpersonal relationships, irritability leading to anger attacks are some of them.

Did you stop doing things you liked? Has your lifestyle changed due to external factors or someone’s influence? Not satisfied with your self-esteem? Is your body image compromised? Do you feel sadness, anguish or anxiety? Is what you feel enough to cause suffering to the point of hindering the progress of your personal or professional life?

If the answer is yes, it may be important to consider professional intervention.

According to Suka, Yamauchi & Sugimori (2016), the recognition of symptoms is crucial for the seeking for psychological help.

The authors recognize that the view of family and friends about seeking help, clinical history, contact with people who have the same problems, better understanding of health and positive interactivity with people around them are factors that influence the individual in seeking help.

According to the same authors, people seek care for physical health more proactively than for mental health; perhaps not yet aware that physical health interferes with psychological health and vice versa.

Considering the difference between men and women in the search for help, theories suggest that men and women learn gender behaviours and attitudes according to culture, impacting their attitudes, perceptions and behaviour.

Men in general are told that they need to be leaders, providers, emotionally strong and that they cannot demonstrate emotions, while women are socially more freely to express their emotions without suffering this “collective judgment”.

These concepts make the request for help a painful process, where many of them prefer not to face it.

Women tend to seek help more easily, but this expectation is fluctuating, since the behaviour will depend on the personality, social environment and motivation to do so.

Bass et al., (2016) emphasizes that men have a lower life expectancy than women because they engage in risky behaviours, addictions and are diagnosed with diseases later on because they are reluctant to seek help.

Failure to recognize the problem becomes a barrier to seeking treatment.

As long as we don’t look “inside”, we will look for flaws on the outside and the life will look like a battlefield.


  • Suka, M., Yamauchi, T., & Sugimori, H. (2016). Help-seeking intentions for early signs of mental illness and their associated factors: Comparison across four kinds of health problems. BMC Public Health, 16 (1), 301-13. doi: 10.1186 / s12889-016-2998-9
  • Bass, SB, Muñiz, J., Gordon, TF, Maurer, L., & Patterson, F. (2016). Understanding help-seeking intentions in male military cadets: An application of perceptual mapping. BMC Public Health, 16 (1), 413-10. doi: 10.1186 / s12889-016-3092-z
  • Thompson, A., Issakidis, C., & Hunt, C. (2008). Delay to seek treatment for anxiety and mood disorders in an australian clinical sample. Behavior Change, 25 (2), 71-84. doi: 10.1375 / bech.25.2.71

Psychologist with over 17 years of professional experience in mental health and psychological well-being. Currently an NHS employee (Mental Health) and private services in psychotherapy (in person and online). BPS /CRP member.