Mental health is an integral part of our overall well-being, yet it is often stigmatised and shrouded in secrecy. Mental health illnesses, such as anxiety and depression, can significantly impact one's personality. These illnesses not only affect a person's mental and emotional well-being but also have a considerable impact on their behaviour, cognition, and perception of the world.
This time, in our special series, 'Mental Health Matters', we delve into the details of how mental health illnesses impact one's personality. To learn about this, we spoke to Dr Upasana Chaddha, Psychologist and Director - Mindscape Centre for Counseling.
Here's how your personality is affected when you suffer from mental health illnesses.
Everything Seems Worrying
Dr Chaddha said, "Mental health illness often brings a huge change in one's emotions, thoughts and behaviour." Citing the example of anxiety, a mental health disorder, she said, "If someone suffers from anxiety, they often experience uncontrollable worry, tension, agitation, and fear."
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Anxiety can emerge in a variety of forms, including panic attacks, phobias, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Dr Chaddha said, "A perception of fear or threat starts to develop, which brings changes in our nervous system, activating a flight-or-fight response in our body. This response, in turn, leads to changes in physiological functioning, such as increased heart rate, sweating, and dilating pupils." She added, "Such changes in the body bring further changes in our behaviour, and we start to become restless and move about hurriedly."
When we talk of depression, individuals often experience a range of symptoms, such as persistent sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed. This condition can make them fatigued and irritable. This can also lead to difficulty in concentrating or making decisions. Just like in anxiety, people who are depressed can also withdraw themselves from social activities and isolate themselves from others, which can negatively impact their relationships.
Your Perception Changes
Dr Chaddha said, "Mental health illnesses can also alter your moods and emotions, which can impact your perception of the world, often bringing change in your daily functioning." She added that it can affect your decision-making ability and attention span. Not only this, but your ability to maintain healthy relationships is also impacted."
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Am I Good?
When you suffer from mental health disorders, like anxiety and depression, the question, 'Am I good' could often pop up in your mind. Dr Chaddha said, "Many people with mental illnesses have low self-esteem, which affects their personality and makes them less confident in their ability to navigate the world and its challenges."
Dr Chaddha concluded, "It is essential for individuals with mental health challenges to seek help from a mental health professional." She added that mental health illnesses are treatable and manageable, and seeking help can lead to a significant improvement in an individual's quality of life.
In this fast-paced and stressful world, it is more important than ever to recognise the significance of mental health and to take steps to promote a culture of understanding, compassion, and support. By doing so, we can break down the barriers that prevent people from seeking the help they need and create a society where mental health is valued and prioritised just as much as physical health.