How To Help Someone In Denial Of Mental Illness

Sometimes, people suffer from mental health conditions that are so severe or persistent that they enter into what is known as denial. For example, someone who has just been diagnosed with schizophrenia may deny that diagnosis and even believe that their current symptoms are not serious enough to warrant such a label.

Others may go through similar stages of denial after being informed that they have depression. They might think that they’re not depressed enough to need treatment, or perhaps that there are things they can do to make themselves feel better.

Denial can sometimes be a way for individuals to cope with their emotions. By denying the severity of an emotional state, you can prevent yourself from doing something you fear will worsen your condition.

This is why it can be hard to help someone in denial. If you try to talk about how bad their mood is or ask if anything is making them unhappy, you could find them shutting down and refusing to reply.

Do not try to be the expert

We are all different, we process things differently, we have our own internal processes that we use for everything from life events to experiences, relationships, tasks and jobs, and mental health or wellness issues are no exception.

What may help someone else’s situation is totally irrelevant to you unless it works for you. You cannot assume anything about someone else’s personal process or what will help them.

This is very important to note as there are many theories about why someone might need treatment they deny exist.

Theories like externalization — blaming others instead of yourself for problems and symptoms – can make people feel even more invalidated and depressed.

If you come across a behavior or pattern that seems unhealthy, acknowledge that this does not seem healthy for you or your loved one(s). Ask how you could possibly help if the other person was unwilling to seek outside assistance before.

Look at their reactions

A lot of times, people who know someone that is in denial will try to get them to acknowledge the signs by looking at their reactions when you do not want to talk about something or are trying to avoid it.

If they notice that they become very angry or irritated quickly, sometimes they will say or do things without realizing it because of past experiences.

This could be saying or doing something that made them feel bad before so they subconsciously use that as a source for anger.

They may also show certain behaviors such as withdrawing, avoiding conversations, or being secretive. All of these can indicate if someone in your life is in denial.

There are some ways to help a person in denial come to terms with mental health issues.

One way to start is to have honest talks about how they can improve their lives.

By having those discussions, you will bring out more information than just whether or not they agree that there is a problem. You will also find out what parts of the disease affect them and why. This helps identify appropriate resources and treatments.

Help them express their feelings

When someone you love is experiencing mental health issues, it can be difficult for them to recognize what’s going on for them.

They may deny or ignore symptoms they are aware of, and even reject professional help. This can make trying to talk about your friend’s condition very challenging.

But there is something you can do that will almost always work. You can try talking to them about how they’re acting. Ask if they’ve been feeling depressed or anxious lately, if they seem distracted more than usual, if they have trouble sleeping, and if they appear to be avoiding certain people or situations.

If you’re able to get through with this test then you could potentially save your loved one’s life.

Ask how they are

There is an important first step in helping someone who has been diagnosed with mental illness, or anyone for that matter, is in denial. You have to ask them how they’re doing!

This may sound weird but it makes sense. When you’re going through something difficult like dealing with depression or anxiety, there’s a lot of talk about how people feel.

So instead of assuming what everyone must be thinking, try asking more directly how they are feeling. This can help you understand their emotions better and maybe even give them the chance to explain things to you.

If possible, learn some basic signs of emotional distress so you know when to look for these answers.

Share your experiences

As mentioned earlier, one of the biggest things that can help is having conversations about mental health with others.

This could be talking to someone who you think may need help or trying to help them find it. It could also be speaking with people who are in crisis and seeking help.

By being aware of what other’s experience and tips for coping with depression, anxiety and PTSD, you will know how to help them!

It goes without saying that everyone deals with stress and grief differently. There is no right way to process these things, so don’t try to impose yours on them.

Don’t assume anything about their situation unless they tell you – we all have secrets we keep to protect ourselves.

Be non-judgemental and acknowledge there are some days that will be harder than others. Hopefully those times get shorter as time passes.

Look for the humor

Finding the funny in things can help you deal with tough situations, which is why comedians are so valuable as people-watchers. They spend a lot of time looking at how people act and talking about it, making jokes depending on what they see.

Comedians also seem to have trained themselves to be able to recognize when someone needs help, or if someone may need help. They know how to draw out the emotions that person has buried away and look for clues such as laughter or crying.

If you’re able to spot something being mocked or laughed at, then try asking questions or giving direct comments to see if that helps them feel more comfortable. Sometimes just saying “I understand” or “It will get better soon�” is enough to make a difference.

Or you could ask whether there is somewhere they would like to go or talk about their feelings, maybe even offering to come along too.

Provide reassurance

When someone is in denial about their mental health, it can be difficult to help them see things from your perspective. This is totally normal!

Many people struggle with thoughts about their mental health for years before seeking professional help. In fact, some feel that if they talk about how bad their moods are or if they admit that something made them angry then this will make it get worse.

This isn’t true at all. Only by talking about what you’re feeling can you work through those feelings and find the solution that’s best for you.

It may also be hard to believe that there could be an underlying problem when nothing has changed about the person outside of the symptoms they’re experiencing.

If a friend or family member seems less friendly than usual, changes in their behavior that were previously present, and they seem to be putting more effort into avoiding you than engaging, then chances are they’ve noticed something was wrong.

You might want to speak to them, but making a conversation might not go so well. They might deny any problems or say only hurtful things.

In these cases, trying to understand where they’re coming from can be very challenging. It takes time and energy to do this, which can sometimes put pressure on relationships.

That’s why it’s important to let yourself walk away. You’ll have more success helping them later if you don’t hang around too long.

Seek professional help

There are many ways you can help someone who is in denial about their mental health condition. One way is to talk with them about it directly, but that may not work unless they are ready.

If you see signs of depression or anxiety, give them some time to acknowledge those symptoms before helping them deal with them.

Do not force anything upon them if they do not want your help. Listen to them, be there for them, and try to understand what has made them feel this way.

Above all, remain non-judgmental and understanding. A lot of times, people will not recognize their own internal struggles until something happens like a car accident or a close call with suicide. Then, they realize how much sadness and stress they have been carrying around.

By then, it may be too late, so trying to identify risk factors and warning signals could prevent an episode. By being aware, you can help them get the needed treatment they need to recover.

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