Life presents us with unexpected challenges and difficulties. Sometimes those difficulties are easy to work through and solutions can be found. But, there are other times when the solution cannot be found no matter how hard we try. The solutions we seek seem to elude us and the harder we try to find the answers the worse things get. We do not know what to do next and this leads to frustration and confusion. We don’t feel “normal” and can’t quite put our finger on why we can’t get back to our familiar selves. We don’t recognize ourselves and the challenges seem to be getting the better of us.


Below, is a list of some of the symptoms for Depression, Anxiety, Substance Abuse, and Burnout. These Self Assessments are listed here to help you determine if it is time to seek professional help for your difficulties. It is not meant to be a full assessment, but a starting point for you to look seriously at yourself and your situation.


All of us have times of feeling “down” and experience short spells of depression. But, when those feelings become prolonged they begin to affect our personality and our ability to fully engage in life.

Are you experiencing any of the following symptoms?

  1. Inability to achieve restful sleep, waking up earlier than usual or waking up tired
  2. Feelings of sadness or crying spells, sometimes for no apparent reason
  3. Gaining or losing weight- poor appetite or over eating
  4. Lethargy / Lack of motivation
  5. Inability to experience joy or happiness
  6. Poor concentration
  7. Withdrawal and Isolation from friends and loved ones
  8. Thoughts of suicide (Please seek emergency assistance immediately)


Like depression, anxiety is also a part of our life. We all experience some form of anxiety each and every day. Anxiety is a basic emotion, a fundamental response to a threat. Most of us worry and become tense when we are under pressure or face a stressful situation. But, when anxiety begins to get in your way and alter the way you live, it no longer serves you well and more help becomes necessary. Left unchecked anxiety can cause significant emotional and physical harm.

Do you find yourself:

  1. Critical of yourself and others
  2. Seeing things in "black-and-white" in absolutes
  3. Predicting doom and gloom
  4. Over-reacting to minor problems
  5. Engaging in self-defeating behavior
  6. Repeating the same behaviors despite your efforts to change
  7. Constantly tense, worried or on edge
  8. Noticing that anxiety is interfering with your work, school, or family responsibilities
  9. Plagued by fears that you know are irrational, but can’t shake
  10. Avoiding everyday situations or activities because they cause you anxiety
  11. Experiencing sudden, unexpected attacks of heart-pounding panic
  12. Feeling like danger and catastrophe are around every corner

Substance Abuse

Use of substances is all around us, cigarettes, wine, and other alcoholic drinks, prescription and street drugs, food. When you face difficult times of change and transition, this is when you have to watch yourself closely. There is a tendency when under stress, to use these substances to excess. Pay attention when someone tells you that they are worried about your use, no matter what it is. You may be increasing your drinking or eating and not even notice it. You may be hiding your drinking or smoking or other illegal drugs from your friends and family, or finding others to “use” with you. This could mark the beginning of a Substance Abuse problem and you need to stay conscious about what you are doing.

Some symptoms to look for:

  1. Feeling guilty over eating, smoking cigarettes, drinking or using other drugs
  2. Continuing to drink or use drugs despite negative consequences
  3. Hiding your drinking and drug use from others
  4. Becoming defensive when others bring attention to your drinking or drug use
  5. Trying to quit or control your substance use without success


We are all accustomed to periods of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion. Most of the time, we move through these periods with very little side effects. When we go through extremely stressful periods in our lives that become prolonged, we become susceptible to experiencing what is called Burn-out. Burn-out is a psychological state that can lead to profound physical and mental problems. If the conditions causing the burn-out are not checked early, feelings of being overwhelmed can become chronic. You begin to lose interest in your life, your work, and your relationships. You can become trapped in a downhill slide if you don’t know the symptoms of burn-out or if you ignore them.

See if you have some of the following symptoms:

  1. Irritability
  2. Increased muscle tension
  3. Trouble concentrating / focusing
  4. Restlessness or inability to relax
  5. Insomnia
  6. Fatigue
  7. A lack of motivation
  8. Little or no interest in work, family or friend

If you answered "yes" to 3 or more of the questions in any one of the assessments above, then you need to seriously think about seeking help. Counselors specialize in all of these issues and can help you to develop the coping skills necessary to handle any of these problems and others not listed here.

Do not let any of these conditions persist; for the longer, you wait to get help, the more serious the consequences can be on yourself, the ones you love and on your life’s goals.
I hope these assessments have been helpful to you and remember…