Almost 43 million Americans suffer from mental illness, but only about half with moderate to severe issues are in treatment—a pretty significant statistic. But even if you’re not mentally ill, therapy can  help you have a happier, more fulfilled life. Here are 5 reasons you should invest in time with a therapist, from Greenwich-based clinical psychologist Dr. Judith Zackson.

The Earlier You Get Help, The Easier It Will Be To Feel Better
Getting assistance before symptoms are “really bad” can prevent them from becoming longer-lasting. “To give a few examples: Before major depression there may be a sense of unease, sadness or feelings of emptiness. Before anxiety disorder there may be distress at home, work or school. Before agoraphobia there may be anxiety and fear and sleeplessness. Why do we have to wait until it’s unbearable?” asks Dr. Zackson.

Sunday Scaries Can Be An Early Warning Sign
If your gut is saying your life isn’t making you happy, treat it like you would any other pain, says Zackson—and find help. “Why is less than optimal functioning the default position? If Sunday night is difficult for you because you dread going back to work Monday morning, and you ignore it—you may be missing an important early warning signal,” says Dr. Zackson.

Depression and Anxiety Can Affect All Aspects of Our Lives
Even mild symptoms can lead to severe consequences. “We know when we feel the void, are drinking too much, are eating too much, when we are not having enough sex, when we have a lousy relationship with our spouses or with ourselves, when we have a lousy relationship with our bosses. We know,” says Dr. Zackson. These unhealthy coping mechanisms only mask problems and make them harder to treat.

Mental Health Should Be Part of Your Health Regime
Most of us go to the gym, take vitamins, brush your teeth and check in regularly with a doctor for physicals—but many of us don’t see anyone who is looking after our mental health. “We have markers for many physical diseases, such as bloodwork abnormalities. However, we often have no such concrete warning signs in mental health. The trick is to notice the early and sometimes subtle cues in the life course of any “disorder” and intervene in the process before symptoms become full-fledged,” says Dr. Zackson.

You Can Start Participating Fully In Your Life
Ever feel like you’re a passenger in your life? “Therapy can inspire and guide people to be their best, not to be their passive submissive worst. Therapy can be used to make good lives great and to help us live more fully,” says Dr. Zackson. Bottom line? Everyone can benefit from some time spent speaking with a therapist. “This is not ‘psychiatric care,’” says Dr. Zackson. “Everyone experiences unease and sadness in their life and most everyone at some point can benefit from care, and there is nothing wrong with that.”

This post is sponsored by Dr. Judith Zackson, a clinical psychologist with a private practice in Greenwich and New York City. She works with clients of all ages who are dealing with anxiety, depression, relationship and parenting issues and body image issues. She lives in Greenwich with her husband and two children.

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