How Does Someone not Realize they Have a Mental Disorder?

female doctor with male patient

Mental disorders are very prevalent and, according to Newsweek, nearly 1 in 5 Americans experience a mental illness each year. That equates to 42.5 million Americans enduring symptoms of conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, depression, and more. Although there are many people with a mental illness, many do not seek treatment. Mental disorders can be very difficult to diagnose, and what may appear to be one disorder may in fact be another.

Dr. Simon Hoermann, Psy.D Corinne Zupanick and Dr. Mark Dombeck explained on that while many individuals with a disorder experience significant distress, many only experience distress and dissatisfaction routinely regarding relationships, work, or home life and may therefore not believe that anything is wrong. If the distress is significant only occasionally, the person may assume these are random occurrences. When this occurs, often it’s the individual’s close friends or loved ones that recognize symptoms before they do. 

Additionally, a lack of awareness is very possible. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has identified the medical condition “anosognosia” as a “lack of insight” or “lack of awareness” causing the person to reject their diagnosis of a mental illness or perception of their mental illness. NAMI notes that as human beings, we are constantly updating our self-image and, we may fail to recognize that we have a mental illness if we maintain our self-image that was perceived prior to developing any signs of a mental illness.

Individuals who have never experienced anything other than their current symptoms may not realize that what they are going through is classified as a mental disorder. NPR claims that some mental disorder symptoms such as depression may be a weakness, so a person that experiences severe depression may not understand the classification of it but may view themselves as just being “weak”.





Mental disorders are very real, and should be diagnosed properly. If you believe you may have a mental disorder, call us today at 888-958-7511. Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned mental health and addiction recovery treatment center dedicated to helping you restore your mind, body, and spirit. We provide several services to help you understand your mental illness, your symptoms, and how to manage and cope with daily life experiences. Call us today for a consultation.

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