When Your Loved One is in Denial About Their Mental Illness

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There are times when we see changes in our loved ones – changes they may not directly be able to see. When it comes to mental illness, stigma often causes people to either fear having one or to fear others who have one. If your loved one does not believe they have a mental illness, but you are certain there are obvious signs of this, they may be in denial. This can be particularly challenging, especially if you want your loved one to seek help.

A 2015 study titled “Assessing and Improving Clinical Insight Among Patients in ‘Denial’”, emphasized the difference between denial and lack of insight – does your loved one reject the notion that they have a mental illness or have symptoms of one, or have they simply not recognized the connection between their thoughts, feelings, and experiences and how they relate to mental illness? Denial is often considered a psychological defense mechanism, while lack of insight could be due to symptoms being perceived as a sign of something else, having neurocognitive deficits that make it challenging to form connections between instances such as these, or having a unique way of thinking about symptoms, mental illness, etc.

If your loved one has been open to talking about mental illness with you, you may want to consider having them speak to a therapist. Motivational interviewing is a technique that helps those with apprehension come to their own realizations about their mental health and recovery options. Rather than push the client towards choosing recovery, the therapist may gently probe them with questions and will remain supportive and neutral during the entire process. Some people with a lack of insight to their mental illness don’t seek treatment because they don’t know they need to – this could be a wonderful time to help them gain insight into their experiences.

If your loved one doesn’t believe they show signs of a mental illness, but you can see it’s potential for significantly reducing their quality of life, you may want to speak with a professional about staging a family mental health intervention. Untreated mental illnesses often get worse over time and could lead to the development of either another mental illness or an addiction, as a person tries to self-medicate to cope with their symptoms. Getting several friends or family members together with clear examples could help your loved one understanding the truth.

Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.




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