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I have gone to therapy at various times in my life. The first time was after a breakup. This is actually a fairly common time to seek help: Many people go to therapy after a big life event.

But the second time I went, I didn’t have a “great” reason.

In fact, on paper, my life was going pretty well. I had just moved to New York, a city I always dreamed of living in, and had just started a master’s program in playwriting, a subject that I loved. My classes were going well and I had just started dating the man who would later become my husband.

And yet, despite the fact that everything seemed to be “okay”, I felt sad almost every day. Writing, and almost everything else, felt like a chore. It was hard to get up in the morning.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was dealing with depression, a mental health condition that affects approximately 8.1 percent of americans

Here’s the thing about depression: It’s a mood disorder that doesn’t necessarily need a big life event to take over. I’m glad I got into therapy. He needed help, though he wasn’t sure why. And it allowed me to develop the tools I needed to get through the day.

While I eventually stopped therapy for a while, I have come back at various points in my life for help with anxiety, job loss, health diagnoses, and even grief over the loss of my dog.

Yes, people may be more inclined to see a therapist when in crisis or during stressful life events. But the definition of “stressful life event” is a little different for everyone. We all have unique triggers and life experiences.

For example, seeking therapy after the loss of my dog ​​caused more than one eyebrow to be raised from the people I told.

But says joyce marter, licensed psychotherapist and founder of Urban Balance, “It’s nothing unusual. For many, pets are members of the family and the grief and loss experienced can be similar to the loss of any other loved one.”

It’s also okay to start therapy just because you think you need a little extra help, even if you’re not sure why.

“Seeking therapy is a routine, preventative form of health care, like going to the dentist or doctor,” says Marter. “A therapist is like a personal trainer for your mind and your relationships.”

Dr. Gail Saltz, a professor of psychiatry at the Weill-Cornell School of Medicine at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, agrees.

“Many people come to therapy to better understand themselves, to work on areas that are more difficult, and to improve their ability to thrive and cope with adversity,” she says.

“The therapy improves tremendously,” says Saltz. “I would say that it would often be better for people to seek therapy long before the crisis in their life occurs so that they are better equipped to handle the inevitable crisis or difficulty in their lives.”

“Schedule an appointment,” Marter says. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

As of 2019, nearly 1 in 5 American adults was living with a mental health condition, according to the National Institute of Mental Health — yet about 55 percent of adults with a mental health condition did not receive mental health services in the past year.

Lack of access to affordable mental health care This may be because some people are reluctant to ask for help, either because of the stigma surrounding therapy or because they don’t believe their concern is “serious enough” to warrant help.

“There is no ‘depressed enough’ when it comes to seeking help, says Saltz. “If you’re feeling depressed, chances are you could benefit from therapy.”

We have been living through unprecedented times since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. And despite rising vaccination rates and hopes of getting back to “normal,” it’s okay to feel insecure, confused, scared, worried, numb, or anything else.

As of this writing, 312,771,733 million Americans have contracted COVID-19 and more than half a million people have died from this new virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Even if you didn’t lose anyone close to you, you may be grieving for other reasons, perhaps a missed opportunity, a life that feels like it’s on pause, or a missed job. Grieving these losses will take time.

Companies across the country have laid off or furloughed millions of employees. Many of those who have kept their jobs continue to work from home. Travel is still inadvisable. Many of us haven’t seen close friends or family for over a year.

So yes, things are slowly getting back to a version of “normal” in some places, but it’s going to take a while to recover from everything that’s happened.

“Our world was experiencing a global mental health epidemic before the pandemic, which poured fuel on the fire and led us into a full-blown global mental health crisis,” says Marter.

“We were already experiencing the highest rates of anxiety, depression and suicide, and now people are dealing with stressors on all levels: financial, relational, emotional, physical, environmental and political,” he adds.

“Getting help is probably the bravest and smartest thing to do,” says Saltz. This is equally true whether you are experiencing a major life event or just feel like you need a little help or someone to talk to.

Martin agrees. “You will feel better after connecting with a therapist. It is a wonderful, loving and compassionate thing that you can do for yourself. Think of it as being a good parent to yourself and getting the professional support you need and deserve,” she says.

Simone M. Scully is a new mom and journalist who writes about health, science, and parenting. Find her at your website or in Facebook Y Twitter.