Questions asked by psychologists to patients

72 Mental Health Questions for Counselors and Patients

What does “mental health” mean to you?

Is it the same as happiness?

Or is it simply the absence of mental illness?

Whether you are a professional therapist or want to help a friend in need, it helps to have some mental health questions up your sleeve.

You may not be able to diagnose someone who isn’t doing 100%, but with a little insight into their state of mind, you can play a valuable role in supporting them to get the help they need.

In this article, we’ll cover some mental health questions to ask yourself, your clients, or even your students. Read on to learn more.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free. These science-based exercises will explore fundamental aspects of positive psychology including strengths, values, and self-compassion, and will give you the tools to enhance the wellbeing of your clients, students, or employees.

This Article Contains:

  • What Are Mental Health Questions?
  • Mental Health Questions
  • 5 Examples of Common Mental Health Questions for Risk Assessment and Evaluation
  • 20 Mental Health Interview Questions a Counselor Should Ask
  • 10 Mental Health Questions Aimed at Students
  • 7 Questions for Group Discussion
  • Common Mental Health Research Questions
  • 9 Mental Health Questions a Patient Can Ask
  • 12 Questions to Ask Yourself
  • 9 Self-Reflection Questions
  • A Take-Home Message
  • References

What Are Mental Health Questions?

Let’s start with a definition of mental health – more precisely, what it isn’t. In the article The Mental Health Continuum: From Languishing to Flourishing, positive psychologist Corey Keyes (2002) is very adamant about not oversimplifying the mental health concept, writing:

“mental health is more than the presence and absence of emotional states.

Recapping the definition of a syndrome from the clinical literature, he then reminds us of the following:

“[a syndrome is] … a set of symptoms that occur together.”

Finally, Keyes argues that we can challenge the idea that syndromes are all about suffering. Instead, he argues that can we view mental health as:

“a syndrome of symptoms of an individual’s subjective well-being” or “a syndrome of symptoms of positive feelings and positive functioning in life.”

Mental Health Questions

The right questions can give you insight into others’ wellbeing and promote the benefits of mental health.

These questions also help you:

  • Show your concern for someone who is struggling
  • Open up a dialogue about their mental state
  • Trigger them to reflect on their overall wellbeing
  • Prompt or encourage them to seek professional help if it is necessary

To get a clearer idea of these questions, let’s consider some examples.

5 Examples of Common Mental Health Questions for Risk Assessment and Evaluation

Where do you take a mental health conversation once you’ve opened with, “How are you feeling?

For professionals, it might help to screen your client for any disorders or distress. The Anxiety and Depression Detector (Means-Christensen, Sherbourne, Roy-Byrne, Craske, & Stein, 2006) can help you assess depression and anxiety disorders, and it’s only five questions long (O’Donnell, Bryant, Creamer, & Carty, 2008).

You may want to tweak some of these questions to make them more relevant to your client.

  1. Have you ever experienced a terrible occurrence that has impacted you significantly? Examples may include being the victim of armed assault, witnessing a tragedy happen to someone else, surviving a sexual assault, or living through a natural disaster.
  2. Do you ever feel that you’ve been affected by feelings of edginess, anxiety, or nerves?
  3. Have you experienced a week or longer of lower-than-usual interest in activities that you usually enjoy? Examples might include work, exercise, or hobbies.
  4. Have you ever experienced an ‘attack’ of fear, anxiety, or panic?
  5. Do feelings of anxiety or discomfort around others bother you?

These are just a few examples, and they are primarily concerned with identifying any potential signs of anxiety and depression. By design, they do not assess indicators of wellbeing, such as flourishing, life satisfaction, and happiness.

If you want to find out more about the latter, we have some great articles about Life Satisfaction Scales, as well as Happiness Tests, Surveys, and Quizzes and mental health exercises.

20 Mental Health Interview Questions a Counselor Should Ask

Open-ended questions are never a bad thing when you’re trying to start a discussion about mental health.

A study by Connell, O’Cathain, and Brazier (2014) suggested that seven quality of life domains are particularly relevant to a counselor who wants to open up dialogue with a client: physical health, wellbeing, autonomy, choice and control, self-perception, hope and hopelessness, relationships and belonging, and activity.

Physical health

Questions of this type were related to feelings such as agitation, restlessness, sleep, pain, and somatic symptoms. Examples of prompts to investigate this domain could include:

  1. Tell me about your sleeping habits over the past X months. Have you noticed any changes? Difficulty sleeping? Restlessness?
  2. How would you describe your appetite over the past X weeks? Have your eating habits changed in any way?

Wellbeing (and ill-being)

These questions looked at feelings of anxiety, distress, motivation, and energy. The ‘absence of negative feelings of ill-being,’ was understandably related to a higher perceived quality of life Connell et al., 2014). Sample prompts might include:

  1. Could you tell me about any times over the past few months that you’ve been bothered by low feelings, stress, or sadness?
  2. How frequently have you had little pleasure or interest in the activities you usually enjoy? Would you tell me more?

Autonomy, choice, and control

Questions about independence and autonomy were related to quality of life aspects such as pride, dignity, and privacy. Potential questions might include:

  1. How often during the past X months have you felt as though your moods, or your life, were under your control?
  2. How frequently have you been bothered by not being able to stop worrying?


Self-perception questions were related to patients’ confidence, self-esteem, and feelings of being capable of doing the things they wanted to do. Counselors might want to use the following prompts:

  1. Tell me about how confident you have been feeling in your capabilities recently.
  2. Let’s talk about how often you have felt satisfied with yourself over the past X months.

Hope and hopelessness

These questions ask about the patient’s view of the future, their hopes and goals, and the actions they were taking toward them.

  1. How often over the past few weeks have you felt the future was bleak?
  2. Can you tell me about your hopes and dreams for the future? What feelings have you had recently about working toward those goals?

Relationships and belonging

These questions consider how the client felt they ‘fit in with society,’ were supported, and possessed meaningful relationships. Examples include:

  1. Describe how ‘supported’ you feel by others around you – your friends, family, or otherwise.
  2. Let’s discuss how you have been feeling about your relationships recently.


The more purposeful, meaningful, and constructive a client perceived their activities to be, the better.

  1. Tell me about any important activities or projects that you’ve been involved with recently. How much enjoyment do you get from these?
  2. How frequently have you been doing things that mean something to you or your life?

Read our post on mental health activities to assist clients in this area.

Other mental health questions for counselors

Another useful source of questions can be found on this website by Mental Health America (n.d.a; n.d.b). You’ll find questions about:

Depression – e.g., How bothered have you felt about tiredness or low energy over the past two weeks? How bothered have you felt about thoughts that you’ve let yourself or others down?

Anxiety – e. g., Over the last two weeks, how bothered have you been by feelings of fear or dread, as though something terrible might happen? How often have you been bothered by so much restlessness that you can’t sit still?

Mental health for young people – e.g., How often have you felt fidgety or unable to sit still? Have you felt less interested in school?

Whatever counseling interview questions you choose to ask as a practitioner, you may find that you need to refer your client to a different healthcare provider. You can help others improve their mental health by making them feel supported and ensuring they are aware of their options for continued support.

10 Mental Health Questions Aimed at Students

Life skills and self-efficacy are two key aspects of mental health, which is why these measures are sometimes used to assess the latter.

Bashir (2018) mentions several assessments used to assess mental health, including:

  • The Life Skills Assessment Questionnaire (Saatchi, Kamkkari, & Askarian, 2010)
  • The Self-Efficacy Scale (Singh & Narain, 2014)
  • Mental Health Scale (Talesara & Bano, 2017)

Bashir (2018) found “a positive significant relationship between the mental health of senior secondary school students with life skills and self-efficacy,” suggesting that the two measures together can be used to get an understanding of students’ mental health.

Mental health questions for students

Other self-efficacy and life skills measures could give us a good idea of some example mental health questions for students. The following may help:

Academic self-efficacy questions for students

How much confidence do you have that you can successfully:

  1. Complete homework within deadlines?
  2. Focus on school subjects?
  3. Get information on class assignments from the library?
  4. Take part in class discussions?
  5. Keep your academic work organized?
Mental health questions (World Health Organization, 2013)
  1. Over the last 12 months, how frequently have you felt so worried about something that you were unable to sleep at night?
  2. Over the last 12 months, how frequently have you felt alone or lonely?
  3. Over the last 12 months, how often did you seriously consider attempting suicide?
  4. Over the last 12 months, did you ever plan how you might attempt suicide?
  5. How many close friends would you say you have?

As with all the other questions in this article, you’ll probably want to tweak and amend these items to suit your audience.

7 Questions for Group Discussion

The catch-all term “mental health group” can refer to several different things. Mental health groups may gather together for therapy or may be more informal peer support groups. You may also find yourself part of a group that’s purely for friends, family, and carers of those whose mental health is a concern.

Whatever group you find yourself in, the World Health Organization (2017) has some suggestions that will help you create a safe and productive space.

Mental health group best practices

Everything that is said in therapy should remain confidential; nothing from the discussion should be shared outside of the group setting.

Bear in mind that not everyone in the discussion will be at the same stage. Some may be new, others may be more seasoned or regular visitors.

Recognize that people won’t necessarily get along, but they all are welcome anyway.

Try not to view peer support or group discussions as a panacea for mental conditions. While they may be a great place to get suggestions or clarity, mental health is about feeling good in more than one way. Participants or caregivers may also require coaching, counseling, or medication to feel better.

7 Group questions

What questions can we ask to get some discussion flowing in a mental health group?

You may want to start with a focus for your discussion. Ask someone to share a story, experience, or step in as a facilitator with a video about the theme at hand. If you are discussing the role of social support, for example, you may have a presentation or case study prepared on the importance of friends and family.

Once you’ve opened with your story or resource, try some of these to spark a discussion (Gruttadaro & Cepla, 2014):

  1. How do you feel about the story you just heard? What was your first reaction? How about as the story unfolded?
  2. What were your thoughts regarding the signs and symptoms of this mental health issue? Have you experienced any of these yourself or in someone you know?
  3. How would you react if you noticed these in someone you care about?
  4. How might taking action benefit you and the person you care about?
  5. What actions could you take to help someone who is exhibiting these signs and symptoms?
  6. What do you believe is important for anyone to be aware of if they know someone with this mental health issue?
  7. What experiences have you had that are related to this story? What was similar? What differed?

Common Mental Health Research Questions

Curious to know the top research questions related to mental health worldwide? Tomlinson et al. (2009) identified some of the key priorities for researchers to look at.

The group came up with 55 questions, and the top three topics included:

  1. Health policy and systems research topics – e.g., How can health policy and systems research help us create parenting and social skills interventions for early childhood care in a cost-efficient, feasible, and effective way?
  2. Cost-effective interventions for low-resource settings – e.g., How can affordable interventions be delivered in settings where resources are scarce?
  3. Questions about child and teen mental disorders – e.g., How effective and cost-effective are school-based mental health treatments for special needs schoolchildren?

9 Mental Health Questions a Patient Can Ask

Engaging with your mental health practitioner is one of the best ways to get the most out of your check-ups. The healthcare system is changing, and gone are the days when a patient sat passively for a diagnosis or prescription (Rogers & Maini, 2016).

These days, arguably, medical dialogues place more emphasis on helping a client help themselves through information, education, and commitment to a better lifestyle. It’s good news indeed for anyone who wants to get proactive about their mental health. So what should you be asking your practitioner?

Before committing to a mental health practitioner, you’ll need to know a few things about the services they provide. Many therapists can provide psychological treatments but aren’t able to prescribe medication. You’ll need a psychiatrist or physician for that.

Bear this in mind, and consider the following questions when you’re deciding whether a provider is right for you (Association for Children’s Mental Health, n.d.; Think Mental Health, n.d.):

  1. What is your experience with treating others with my mental health condition?
  2. Will you be able to collaborate or liaise with my physician on an integrated care plan?
  3. What does a typical appointment with you look like?
  4. What treatments or therapies are you licensed to administer?
  5. Are there benefits or risks that I should know about these therapies?
  6. What is the general time frame in which most patients will see results?
  7. How will I know if the treatment is having an effect?
  8. How long does this type of treatment last?
  9. What does research say about this type of treatment?

12 Questions to Ask Yourself

Mental Health Week takes place every year in October.

It is an awareness-raising campaign that encourages us to tune in early to the symptoms of mental illness.

But, of course, you can always check in with yourself as regularly as you like.

Example questions about wellbeing

The Canadian Mental Health Association (n.d.) provides some self-report questions that you can start with; these questions cover six areas and require only agree/disagree responses. Try some of these as an example:

  1. Sense of self questions– e.g., I see myself as a good person. I feel that others respect me, yet I can still feel fine about myself if I disagree with them.
  2. Sense of belonging questions – e.g., I have others around me who support me. I feel positive about my relationships with others and my interpersonal connections.
  3. Sense of meaning or purpose questions – e.g., I get satisfaction from the things I do. I challenge my perspectives about the world and what I believe in.
  4. Emotional resilience questions – e. g., I feel I handle things quite well when obstacles get in my way. I accept that I can’t always control things, but I do what I can when I can.
  5. Enjoyment and hope questions – e.g., I have a positive outlook on my life. I like myself for who I am.
  6. Contribution questions – e.g., The things that I do have an impact. My actions matter to those around me.

9 Self-Reflection Questions

Elsewhere on, we’ve written about the many potential benefits of narrative therapy. If you’re looking for some writing or journal prompts to help you get started, you can try putting your responses to these questions down on paper (Post Trauma Institute, 2019).

  1. Have my sleeping habits changed? Do I wake up and fall asleep at regular times? When I sleep, how would I describe the quality of my rest?
  2. How has my appetite increased or decreased recently?
  3. Am I having trouble focusing at work or school? Can I concentrate on the things I want to do? Do I find pleasure in things that usually make me happy?
  4. Am I socializing with my friends as much as I usually do? How about spending time with my family? Am I withdrawing or pulling away from those around me who matter?
  5. Do I feel like I’m maintaining a healthy balance between leisure, myself, my career, physical activity, and those I care about? How about other things that matter to me?
  6. How relaxed do I feel most of the time, out of 10? Is this the same, more, or less than usual?
  7. How do I feel most of the time? Happy? Anxious? Satisfied? Sad?
  8. What are my energy levels like when I finish my day? Are there any significant changes in my tiredness?
  9. Am I having any extreme emotions or mood swings? Any suicidal thoughts, breakdowns, or panic attacks?

It may help to keep track of your responses over time and take notice of any differences in your answers. It should go without saying that the earlier you seek out any help you may need, the better. Consider reading one of these recommended mental health books if you are still unsure about seeking help.

A Take-Home Message

Mental health is not about the absence of mental illness. When we take the time to ask ourselves and others about our mental states, we can potentially make some crucial steps toward wellbeing.

As Keyes (2002) describes, we can think of our mental health as a continuum, with languishing at one end and flourishing at the other. By starting a dialogue and showing that we care, we can help each other get the help we need and potentially begin to feel better.

What questions have you asked yourself before? And what would you add to our list? Let us know in the comments below!

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Positive Psychology Exercises for free.

  • Association for Children’s Mental Health. (n. d.). Questions to ask your mental health professional about treatment options, medications, and more. Retrieved July 29, 2021 from
  • Bashir, L. (2018). Mental health among senior secondary school students in relation to life skills and self-efficacy. International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research Review, 3(9), 587–591.
  • Canadian Mental Health Association. (n.d.). Check in on your mental health. Retrieved from
  • Connell, J., O’Cathain, A., Brazier, J. (2014). Measuring quality of life in mental health: Are we asking the right questions? Social Science & Medicine120, 12–20.
  • Keyes, C. L. (2002). The mental health continuum: From languishing to flourishing in life. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 43, 207–222.
  • Means-Christensen, A. J. , Sherbourne, C. D., Roy-Byrne, P. P., Craske, M. G., & Stein, M. B. (2006). Using five questions to screen for five common mental disorders in primary care: Diagnostic accuracy of the Anxiety and Depression Detector. General Hospital Psychiatry, 28(2), 108–118.
  • Mental Health America. (n.d.a). Questions to ask a provider. Retrieved July 29, 2021, from
  • Mental Health America. (n.d.b). Mental health screening tools. Retrieved July 29, 2021, from
  • Gruttadaro, D., & Cepla, E. (2014). Say it out loud: NAMI discussion group facilitation guide. National Alliance on Mental Illness. Retrieved July 29, 2021, from
  • O’Donnell, M. L., Bryant, R. A., Creamer, M., & Carty, J. (2008). Mental health following traumatic injury: Toward a health system model of early psychological intervention. Clinical Psychology Review, 28(3), 387–406.
  • Post Trauma Institute. (2019). How to do a mental health check-up DIY style! Retrieved from
  • Rogers, J., & Maini, A. (2016). Coaching for health: Why it works and how to do it. Open University Press.
  • Saatchi, M., Kamkkari, K., & Askarian, M. (2010). Life skills questionnaire. Psychological Tests Publish Edits, 85.
  • Singh, A. K., & Narain, S. (2014). Manual for Self-Efficacy Scale. National Psychological Corporation.
  • Talesara, S., & Bano, A. (2017). Mental Health Scale. National Psychological Corporation.
  • Think Mental Health. (n.d.). Questions to ask your GP – What to discuss. Retrieved from
  • Tomlinson, M. , Rudan, I., Saxena, S., Swartz, L., Tsai, A. C., & Patel, V. (2009). Setting priorities for global mental health research. Bulletin of the World Health Organization87(6), 438–446.
  • World Health Organization. (2013). Global school-based student health survey: 2013 core questionnaire modules. Retrieved July 29, 2021, from
  • World Health Organization. (2017). Creating peer support groups in mental health and related areas: WHO QualityRights training to act, unite, and empower for mental health (pilot version) (No. WHO/MSD/MHP/17.13).

Common Questions Your Psychologist Will Ask

A lot of people are scared to see a Psychologist as they worry about the questions they may be asked.  Initially a Psychologist will ask a standard set of questions which they ask all the people who come to see them.  This process is the same if you see a Psychologist in person or via Telehealth.

Particularly in the first few sessions your Psychologist will ask you a lot of questions.  This is a process of getting to know you and clearly understand what is happening in your life.


First Appointment

In the first appointment your Psychologist will ask questions about your medical history/physical health, mental health
history, alcohol and drug use, career or schooling, early life, finances, family relationships and other close relationships.  They will also ask you a lot of questions regarding the reason you came to see them to get a good understanding of this issue and its impact on your life.  They will ask you questions about your current life as well as questions about all the different life stages you have been through.  This is because your current symptoms can be impacted by previous events.


Common Questions Your Psychologist Will Ask:

  1. What brought you to see me today?


  1. What would you like to focus on?


  1. Have you had any really sad or scary things happen to you?


  1. What are your goals, hopes, dreams for your future?


  1. What are the things you like about yourself?


  1. What makes you most content/happy in your life?


  1. What does that mean for you? How has that affected you? What impact did that have on your life?


They will also ask you if you have any thoughts of harming yourself or others.   It is important you answer these truthfully as they can help you if you are suicidal.

If there are topics you don’t want to discuss you can let the Psychologist know this.  You may also want to get to know and trust your psychologist before you discuss difficult topics.  It is very helpful if you tell your psychologist that there are some topics which you do not feel comfortable discussing at first.


What Happens After The Assessment

From your answers to these questions your Psychologist develops an understanding of what is happening for you (formulation).  Your psychologist won’t just spend the time during your session thinking about you but will reflect on your situation in between your appointments.  They will consider your experiences in the context of their experiences, research and theoretical understanding.  They bring this all together in a formulation or short story which they will share with you and can help to guide treatment.  The goal is that the formulation helps you understand the targets of treatment.

From this story or formulation your Psychologist will be able to identify what types of treatment or skills might assist you.

  This is an opportunity to learn more about yourself in a safe and supportive environment.

The process of assessment should be one which helps you to gain a coherent narrative or story of your situation.  Understanding why you feel, act or think in a certain way should be an empowering process.  Being able to communicate this story and have another person hear your story is an important part of the therapeutic process.

Remember you can ask questions too.  You can often learn a lot by asking why a Psychologist is asking a certain question in terms of the importance of this on your mental health.

If there is anything you think is important and your Psychologist does not ask about it please ensure you let them know.  Even if they did not ask about a certain topic if its important to you then they will want to know about it.

Your own psychologist: answer these 20 questions to understand yourself


Westend61 / Getty Images

what is truly important to you, what you have been running from all your life and where your real dreams live. Ask them to yourself, listen to yourself, change your life!

1. If I could leave only one memory in my entire life, what would it be?

I love this question! It crystallizes what in our life can be called the most important. People answering this question suddenly realize what were the highlights of their lives: time spent with family; moments associated with pursuing a favorite hobby, or traveling.

2. If my life were a movie, how would I like to continue it?

One day my friend saw this question written on misted glass and it changed his life. After him, he quit his unloved job and decided to devote all his time to his hobby, which now made him one of the most famous people in the city.

Westend61 / Getty Images

3. What would I do if I knew exactly what I could do?

The main question to ask yourself. It shows exactly what you would be doing if you didn't have fears, excuses, and other ridiculous reasons for not living the life you want.

4. What's wrong?

The Buddhist monk Tit Nhat Khan once said that we too often ask ourselves the question "What's wrong?", concentrating on the negative. Our life would be much happier and more spiritual if we asked ourselves: “What is it?” The answer to this question allows us to be grateful at least for the fact that we woke up this morning, in contrast to the 160 thousand people who did not open their eyes today.

5. What accomplishments am I proud of?

Make a list of things you are proud of. You can add even seemingly insignificant things there, such as cooking classes. When you see on paper your reasons for pride, your level of self-worth will jump up.

6. What do I think my parents didn't give me?

Asking yourself this question, you will see what you will strive for all your life. If you think that you were not loved as a child, then all your life you will run after other people in an attempt to get love from them.

BullRun / Adobe Stock

7. How should my parents never treat me?

By answering this question, you will see situations from which you will run all your life ( read also : Every parent makes this mistake: 6 phrases that turn a child into a loser). For example, my friend thinks that her mother was too protective of her. And now she perceives even the usual care of herself as hyperprotection and flies off the coils.

8. What are the top three mistakes in my life I don't want to repeat?

They say that the rake is divided into two types: 1) that teach something and 2) my favorite. Think about what “your favorite rake” is repeated from year to year?

9. My best decision in the last five years is…

Five years ago, I made the decision to give up my beautiful life and TV job in Moscow for the dream of becoming a writer. I packed my things and left for my hometown Ufa. I have now published two books that have become bestsellers. The best decision of my life is to trust the small voice of my heart and follow it. And you?

10. I am ready to give up in favor of my dream…

If you want to achieve something, you will have to sacrifice something. They say that discipline is the ability to do what you don’t really want in order to get what you really want. So what are you willing to sacrifice?

Drobot Dean / Adobe Stock

11. What are my free sources of inspiration?

In our material world, it is believed that the higher the price for something, the cooler it is. But the most emotional things are still free: a walk in the fresh air, solitude in the mountains, hugs with loved ones, laughter and smiles, good books (not free, but not very expensive).

12. Imagine there is a self-assessment meter. What actions increase the level of self-esteem?

Strange but true: very often our self-esteem depends on specific actions. When we do what we love; when we challenge ourselves; when we take care of ourselves, all this raises our level of self-love. What do you need to do to feel good?

Sondem / Adobe Stock

13. Which people fill me up and which ones empty me?

It must be admitted that there are no good or bad people. There are those, being close to which makes us stronger and fills us. And there are those with whom we are destroyed. Who from your environment belongs to the first category, and who to the second?


Who do I envy?

Try writing a list of people you envy. Envy is an interesting feeling that most often shows a subconscious desire to have the same thing as the object of envy. Envy must be transformed into a constructive emotion in order to understand what we want.

15. What annoys me about other people?

What we see in other people is ours. What other people see in us is theirs. So the easiest list to figure out your weaknesses is to understand what annoys you in other people ( read also : 7 annoying husband flaws that only a wise wife will fix).

16. Which of your loved ones would you like to see by your bed when you die?

I was once struck by a question from renowned business thinker Yitzhak Adizes, who was watching his mother die in a hospital bed. He asked himself: “And who would I like to see at my bedside on my deathbed? Why not get rid of those people that I don't want to see by my bed, dying, right now? Just think about it.

iStock /

17. When do I feel the urge to appear rather than to be real?

Sometimes we show off in front of others, and sometimes we really live. Remember how a startup appeared in Moscow before March 8, where smart guys brought hundreds of roses and packages of fashion brands with which you could take a photo for some money? And then frames like “Beloved gave 101 roses began to appear on social networks. I love him." And there is no favorite. That's for sure the guys made good money on people's desire to appear, and not to be. Answer honestly the question: do I have such moments?

18. What will I regret most in my old age?

Regrets are ranked every year in the world. Older people are asked: “What do you regret the most?” All over the world, these ratings are almost always the same. Most of all, people regret that all their lives they worked at an unloved job, lived with unloved people, traveled little and did not take care of their health. What will you regret in old age?

19. Describe your life until today in 6-9 words.

As part of my writing course, I always ask participants to do an Ernest Hemingway story thing. He bet that he would write a six-word story that would make people cry. The story went like this: “Children's shoes are for sale. Unworn." Here are some witty and sad things my students wrote: “Have I really found myself? Writing. I'm only 37", "She believed she could. Therefore, I could”, “I am 33. Sell 2 boards and nails.” What does your life look like in 6-9 words until today?

20. What does it mean to me to be happy?

And answer this question yourself. No hints.

Evgenia Sidorova, Olga Astafyeva


  • Career
  • How to become happy
90,000. Frequently asked psychologists

In this section, we prepared a small selection of answers to the most common issues of the psychologists from the Sumeries 8- 800 100-01-91.


  1. How can a psychologist help me?
  2. Should the patient be told about the diagnosis?
  3. How to talk to a doctor?
  4. I'm tired of being treated. Where to find strength?
  5. How to cope with the fear of death?
  6. I have just been diagnosed, what should I do now?
  7. How to learn to relieve anxiety?
  8. Why did I get sick? Why is this punishment for me?
  9. How to support a loved one if he is ill? How to behave with him?

1. How can a psychologist help me?

If you need to share your feelings with someone, you can easily dial our number 8-800 100-0191 , it works around the clock and free of charge. A psychologist-consultant is on duty.

First of all, it is important to understand what is considered psychological support, what kind of help you expect. First, you will be heard and understood. Secondly, by looking at yourself and the situation through the eyes of another person, you can, together with a psychologist, find a way out of a situation that might seem insoluble.

We are ready to listen to you, discuss your experiences and feelings, help you understand and accept them, find resources together so that you can pass all the tests, talk about your relationship with people around you: family, friends, acquaintances or medical staff, dream , practice breathing properly and do some exercises to reduce anxiety. We are ready to just talk about what you want. To do this, we will use our professional knowledge and experience, and you - your understanding of yourself, the situation, your willingness to change, your inner strength.

In addition to calling the hotline, there are other forms of support. You can attend a psychotherapy group for patients or individual face-to-face consultations with a psychologist.

2. Should the patient be told about the diagnosis?

We are often asked questions of a similar nature. Often, doctors do not report the diagnosis to the patient himself, and the decision to “talk or not talk about the diagnosis” is left to relatives. This is a big responsibility and a very difficult dilemma.

Unfortunately, there is no specific "recipe" that would contain information on how to act in such a situation. Despite the fact that in recent years there has been a trend to fully inform the patient about the diagnosis, this issue still remains an ethical dilemma. Therefore, we always say that in such situations it is very important to understand what kind of person your relative (friend) is, whether he is impressionable, how he used to cope with difficult stressful situations: i. e. whether he is inclined to panic and withdraw into himself, or, on the contrary, an optimistic and courageous person who always wants to know the truth, no matter how painful it is. Think about how he might react to such news.

When talking with a psychologist, relatives make different decisions: often they try to tell the truth, but in an extremely mild form, they name a different diagnosis, it happens that they decide to remain silent until the last, fearing that an impressionable person, having learned the diagnosis, will become so worried that he will fall ill stronger, they give medicine, assuring that it will help. But lying can bring great difficulties.

For example, if a person knows you well, he may begin to suspect you of hiding something, and this may destroy trust between you. It is quite possible that the patient guesses about the diagnosis himself or knows something from the words of the doctor or roommates, and the withdrawal of relatives from talking on this topic creates a situation of the “taboo” topic and the patient finds himself in isolation. It's a fine line.

With any decision, it is important to say that you will be there, do not leave him alone, that you love and appreciate him, because this is very important for a sick person.

If you decide to speak frankly about the disease, you should be prepared for tears and denial (when the patient does not believe that this is true), apathy, depressive reactions. We all need time to realize. In more detail, you can talk about this with a psychologist by phone.

In addition, it is of great importance how you yourself deal with this news, whether you feel the spiritual strength to solve these issues alone. Do not take full responsibility for the decision, coordinate it with the whole family.

If now you or someone close to you think that you are not ready to discuss this issue, wait until the shock reaction passes, and only then make a decision, in this case it will turn out to be more rational and balanced.

3. What is the right way to talk to a doctor?

If you feel that you have not been able to build a rapport with the doctor, for example, you are confused and did not ask what you planned, this can be corrected. First, try to come to the consultation prepared, i.e. Make a list of questions you would like to ask ahead of time. This will facilitate the process of communication with the doctor and will allow you to use the consultation time as efficiently as possible.

Second, ask questions clearly and directly. Ask again what you do not understand from the words of the doctor. Do not be shy. It is great if you and the doctor will co-sponsor the treatment program, ask to be kept up to date with the program, prognosis and treatment time frame. If you happen to sit in line for an appointment, try to relax and not accumulate fear and irritation, as these are emotions you adopt from others (contagion effect). To do this, you can turn on the player, read a book, call the psychological help number 8-800 100-0191 . Stay business-minded so you don't panic or get upset. If you are unsure of yourself, invite a friend or relative along. It is important to remember that the bulk of the responsibility lies with you, and it is important to engage in dialogue and follow instructions as clearly as possible. If they are not there, find out how to do it right (dates for the next examination, gymnastics, underwear, dressings, tests, etc.). If in doubt, and your doctor is not available, you can consult with one or two more specialists.

4. I am tired of being treated. Where to find strength?

It can be very difficult for patients to cope alone with their emotional state during the treatment period. During this period, the patient's life often turns into a regular and tedious visit to medical institutions, which results in fatigue, apathy, a sense of powerlessness and, as a result, unwillingness to continue treatment. Therefore, resources (internal or external) are of great importance, which you can rely on during this difficult period, so as not to give up and not retreat in the fight against the disease. Such resources can be anything that can support you and give you moral strength, ranging from the support of people close to you and ending with hobbies that can bring you joy and satisfaction.

If possible, try not to “fixate” on negative experiences, distract yourself from them in every possible way. Fill your time (free from visiting the hospital and current affairs) with as many activities and hobbies as possible, so that there is simply no time left for worries. Force yourself to relax. And sometimes, literally force it, because it can be very difficult to distract yourself from negative thoughts. Remember - to fill your life with new emotions, impressions, activities is very important to avoid depression. Live as much as possible (if your well-being allows) brightly, fully and richly. Go to the theater, cinema, be more outdoors, think of a new activity or hobby, get a pet.

You need to choose some time during the day that you could be alone with yourself and devote only to yourself. Listen to calm classical music, draw (even if you don’t know how, it can help you relax and get distracted), do light gymnastics, lie in the bath, read something pleasant before going to bed. If you are very limited in time, you can set aside at least 15-30 minutes a day for this. The ability to relax is a very important skill that will help you cope with stress.

Are there people close to you who can support you in difficult times? The participation of loved ones in such a situation can be a valuable support and an incentive not to give up. Feel free to reach out to your loved ones for help and support.

Start keeping a diary, write down all your thoughts and experiences. Dialogue with oneself can be a very valuable support and support in a situation that at first glance seems difficult and hopeless.

In addition, you can always count on our support and attention. Call us! Our hotline 8-800 100-0191 is open 24/7 and free of charge.

5. How to cope with the fear of death?

In a situation of oncological disease, a person faces the fear of death face to face. From the moment of our birth until the very last day, we build a defense against this fear, it haunts us, always being on the border of consciousness with a kind of “obscure rumble”. As a result of the fact that we are threatened by a real, real danger, such as cancer, the realization of such a simple thought “I really can die now” comes to mind, and this is insanely scary. This means that the protection against fear built up over the years of life has been broken or collapsed altogether, and it turned out that you, with this awareness, suddenly found yourself face to face without this kind of “armor”. It is strange that we are not always aware of this, that is, we do not feel it when crossing the street in a busy place or walking under a string of heavy icicles in winter, we do not feel it when we are driving in a car, avoiding a collision, we do not feel it when we return home late. But cancer changes everything.

Do not try to run away from fear or deny it, try to look it in the eye and negotiate with it. Fear is our helper and protector. Running away from him, we only increase his attempts to get through to us. Absolutely every human fear is a derivative of the fear of death, and if you perceive your fear as the fear of death, and not as anything else, this is already a big breakthrough.

Awareness of the fear of death is a very sincere position without superficial, superfluous, and much allows us to decide for ourselves. Therefore, what you are so afraid of now will pass with time if you manage to understand something important or change your attitude towards life. What you feel and can now understand is not given to "sleeping" people who have not realized death and hide their fear deep in the subconscious. Thus, the awareness of death is a door to the unknown, a way to rethink one's existence. An example of this could be Randy Pausch, here is his “last lecture”: http://rutube. ru/video/52ecedbe7ed9c3d113ab24838c07cc1c/.

Maybe it's time to think? In order to reduce this excessive stress, we suggest thinking about what scares you the most about death? Talk to your fear about everything, in particular: Why are you afraid of this? Do you think this fear is related to your life or death? What is death for you? Do you believe in the immortality of the soul? In the preservation of personality after death? Take a look at her, talk to her, maybe she's not so scary? In order to delve into this issue, you can read the book of the famous psychotherapist Irvin Yalom “Peering into the sun. Life without fear of death.

6. I have just been diagnosed, what should I do now?

Unfortunately, there is still no clear answer to the question of what can cause cancer. But most scientists and practitioners agree that a complex of factors plays a role in this process: biological nature, heredity, ecology, lifestyle and factors of a socio-psychological nature. And none of us can be immune from this disease, and even the right way of life, physical strength and conditional health are not a defense against it.

In the situation of making a diagnosis, this information falls "like snow on the head", and the person experiences a shock. You can’t prepare for this and “lay straws”. For a minute or two or half an hour it is impossible to believe that this is true, this "really happened to me." Emotions go wild, arms and legs do not bend, it is impossible to speak, or, on the contrary, you begin to chat incessantly and rush about anxiously. The way to respond depends on the type of human nervous system. Tears in the moment are perfectly normal and helpful. Sit and cry, then drink water or breathe deeply and slowly. This is not a weakness - this is the norm.

The brain needs to start working with this situation: don't expect yourself to find a solution instantly, choose the right questions and get together. It takes time to absorb information and process it. It will take from several hours to several days, and you will come to terms with the fact that the diagnosis is there and it is true, you will come to your senses, make a decision, make a plan and tell someone about what happened.

Please do not imagine future problems and losses and do not panic ahead of time. The notion that cancer is the end of life and an early death is erroneous. The word "cancer" is surrounded by numerous myths and various "horrors", which are described in detail on the Internet and often have nothing to do with reality. It is better not to read them and remember that each situation is unique.

Cancer is a life-threatening disease. This is true. But this disease is curable, remember that. In most cases, especially in the early stages, the forecasts are optimistic. You are not alone: ​​many people coped with this disease, and then went ahead and developed, becoming more resilient and strong-willed people. So try to be patient and courageous, stock up on the support of loved ones, form an active and positive attitude towards recovery and start actively fighting for your health.

Related article: How to deal with the shock reaction after the announcement of the diagnosis?

7. How to learn to relieve anxiety?

As a rule, the psychological state of a person who has learned that he has cancer is characterized by a particularly high level of anxiety. The state of anxiety can be very strong, disrupting the normal functioning of the body. In this case, the qualified help of a psychologist, a medical psychotherapist is required. However, with moderate symptoms, the patient can learn to cope with this condition on their own.

One of the best ways to deal with anxiety is regular relaxation. Relaxation is a skill that is specifically used in dealing with anxiety. You cannot be relaxed and scared at the same time. There are many ways to achieve psychophysical relaxation. The most commonly used are meditation techniques and progressive muscle relaxation. Many people use music for this purpose. Just walking and light exercise can also reduce anxiety levels. One of the simplest and most effective ways to relax is to slow down your breathing and begin to observe your inhalations and exhalations, making them as deep and stretched as possible. There are various relaxation programs, including those on audio and video cassettes.

Related article: Anxiety

8. Why did I get sick? Why is this punishment for me?

Unfortunately, many patients suffer from this issue.

Many perceive their illness as a punishment or as a consequence of their mistake. Most often, left alone with negative thoughts, patients ask themselves the following questions: Why did I get sick? What is it for me? What for? Why me? Why am I so unlucky?

It is important to realize that it is not your fault or anyone else's that you are ill. No one is really to blame for this, moreover, the causes of this disease have not been fully studied even by doctors. Anyone can get sick, regardless of gender, age and even lifestyle.

Usually we intuitively evaluate our illness as something negative that has already happened to us. We are convinced that the onset of the disease is a certain moment in the past, and we are trying to look for answers to our questions there.

In order to radically change the attitude towards the disease, it is necessary to stop looking into the past or to be tormented by feelings of guilt. It is very important to change all your internal searches for the cause of the disease and ask yourself the question not “for what?”, but “for what”?

This question is very important, deep, containing positive energy. Ask yourself regularly the questions “why?”, “What can I change in my life to make it better?”. And then the negative attitude towards the disease, which is by no means useful and resourceful, will gradually change to the attitude towards the disease as an opportunity to change something in oneself for the better.

So, it can be difficult to radically change your attitude to a situation, but if you clearly set such a task for yourself and enlist the support of a psychologist, you will definitely succeed.

Related article: Find a way out... How?

9. How to support a loved one if he/she is ill? How to behave with him?

This question does not have a clear answer. It all depends on what your loved one loves, how they were supported before in difficult life situations, what helped and what did not. It is important to understand that there is no special right way to behave in such a situation. The support of loved ones is important in itself, even by the very fact of being present, sharing feelings, providing an opportunity to speak out, cry, find support and a positive attitude of a loved one.

As a rule, first of all, patients are afraid that they will be left alone, in social isolation and loneliness, so do not hesitate to offer help and assure that you will be there all the time and are ready to walk this difficult path hand in hand.

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