Therapy: Reasons Not To Delay Mental Health Treatment

Therapy: Reasons Not To Delay Mental Health Treatment
By: Isabelle Siegel

The median delay between onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment-seeking is a shocking ten years. In other words, people are suffering silently and without help for nearly a decade before they even speak to a professional. Before choosing to delay treatment, it is important to consider the many benefits of seeking therapy sooner rather than later.

Seeking therapy earlier decreases the likelihood that symptoms will worsen. Among those who chose to delay treatment, 37% reported that their symptoms worsened. This can in turn make treatment more difficult when it is finally sought out and, overall, can complicate the therapeutic process.

Seeking therapy earlier decreases the likelihood that physical symptoms will develop. Unaddressed mental illness symptoms can lead to physical consequences including obesity, heart attack, stroke, gastrointestinal issues, and general increased risk for disease.

Seeking therapy earlier decreases the degree to which symptoms interfere with one’s life and relationships. A hallmark of mental illness is interference with quality of life and relationships. People who choose to delay mental health treatment are more likely to lose their jobs, drop out of school, experience financial troubles, and get divorced.

Seeking therapy earlier decreases the risk of comorbid disorders. People with untreated mental illness are more likely to develop comorbid disorders. Comorbid substance use disorders are particularly likely to arise as a result of people self-medicating with alcohol and/or drugs. These comorbid disorders further complicate treatment when it is finally sought.

Seeking therapy earlier decreases mortality rates. Neglecting mental health problems increases one’s risk for self-harm, suicide, and accidents (e.g., overdose, car accidents). In fact, the majority of suicide attempts are due to untreated mental illness.

Seek treatment now. If you or a loved one needs support, the licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy can assist you. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, visit


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