How Denial Can Lead to a Mental Health Crisis

People often choose to avoid taking responsibility for unhealthy behaviors or beliefs. In many cases, this denial can worsen mental health issues by causing people to ignore their problems instead of finding healthy ways to manage them. Internalized stigmas may cause some people to avoid seeking necessary treatment because they feel embarrassed or ashamed. According to the American Journal of Public Health, “The desire to avoid labeling oneself negatively or to conceal one’s problems from others appears to cause treatment avoidance, increase dropping out, and reduce adherence” to recovery programs. Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention can help you overcome denial or ambivalence by providing mental health education and crisis stabilization

How Can Denial Affect Mental Health? 

Avoiding issues related to your mental health can leave you feeling overwhelmed or disconnected from your emotions. Over time, if you continue to deny the problem, it can cause rifts in relationships and might lead you to risk-taking behaviors like substance misuse to find temporary relief. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “Studies found that people with a mental disorder, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), may use drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication.” 

Individuals who deny they have a problem may not take the necessary steps to ensure their physical and emotional well-being. In addition, some people avoid reaching out for help until they reach a point where they cannot function day-to-day. Crisis stabilization and intervention provide support and recovery resources for individuals struggling with mental health issues. 

Denial and Avoiding the Reality of Your Emotional Health 

Denying the reality of your spiritual, physical, or emotional health can cause severe symptoms and side effects. Avoidance only causes more problems in the long run and often leads to serious mental illness (SMI). People heal faster and engage more easily during treatment if they accept their circumstances and take responsibility for their actions. Recognizing and overcoming denial is the first step toward healing and long-term recovery. 

4 Ways to Overcome Denial 

Denial does not have to stop you from getting the help you need. Below are four ways you can overcome denial while experiencing a mental health crisis. 

#1. Talk to Your Support System

We all have people we trust that have our best interests at heart. You can rely on that support system to help you recognize if you have a problem. A support system can include therapists, friends, peers, mentors, healthcare providers, and others who support your emotional and physical well-being. Talk to them about your thoughts and feelings. 

An outside perspective can force you to look at your life in context and help you connect specific thoughts or behaviors with their consequences. Loved ones can often provide motivation for overcoming denial and avoidance. 

#2. Take a Step Back and Look at Your Situation Objectively 

Denial often makes it difficult for people to look at the reality of their circumstances. However, if you cannot accept how your thoughts or behaviors have affected your life or your loved ones, you might benefit from mentally taking a step back. One good way to look at things more objectively involves the mental exercise of putting someone else in your shoes. How would you react if someone you cared about was experiencing the same things as you and making the same decisions? Would you consider them healthy, or would you try to get that person to seek professional treatment? Objectivity can make it easier to spot issues that might otherwise go unnoticed. 

#3. Think About the Consequences of Your Denial 

Sometimes the consequences of unhealthy behaviors might seem insubstantial. However, over time they build up, and you might face bleak circumstances. Sometimes, people don’t recognize their need for professional treatment until they encounter a life-changing consequence of untreated mental health, including the following:

  • Job loss
  • Legal problems 
  • Relationship issues 
  • Academic failures 
  • Loss of motivation 
  • Suicidal thoughts or self-harming behaviors 
  • Substance misuse 

Some people go through some or all of these traumas without the ability to cope with the added stress. If you are going through a significant life change, talking to people in your support system can give you encouragement, insight, and motivation to get help. 

#4. Try to Determine Your Motivations 

Motivations are what keep us moving in certain directions. Figuring out your motivation for avoiding treatment is an excellent way to overcome denial. A few questions you can ask yourself include: 

  • Why am I acting this way? 
  • What is causing me the most distress? 
  • How can I lower stress in my life? 
  • What do I gain by acting this way? 

After identifying any problem areas, you can get help from your support system and local mental health facilities. Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention provides treatments and crisis stabilization. Our team ensures all our clients have access to high-quality personalized treatment services.

Many people choose to deny their mental health issues because they feel embarrassed, ashamed, or uncertain about the recovery process. No matter how you feel about treatment and recovery, Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention can help you heal and grow. The professional intervention and crisis stabilization we offer can help people learn to manage symptoms in a healthy and productive way. If you or someone you love struggles to recognize the signs of a mental health disorder, we can help. Our team diagnoses and treats a wide range of issues using evidence-based methods and compassionate care. To learn more about our programs and services, call us today at (866) 986-1481.