Is it worth talking about a mental disorder to loved ones

Clients often ask, ” Should I tell my loved ones that I have been diagnosed with a mental disorder?” I can not answer for the client, but I help to make a choice.

When a question is formulated, arguments appear automatically. But we can forget some, ignore others , and some arguments can only come to mind after a purposeful analysis of the situation. Therefore, it is important to record conclusions in records (in a table or something else) and try to consider the situation from all sides.

Next, I will list the main arguments that clients have when deciding whether to tell loved ones about the diagnosis.

Arguments for”

Supporting loved ones improves emotional conditions and helps reduce stress. Social functioning is an important factor that influences the psychological state of a person. These are academic or work activities, social circle, marital status, features of interpersonal interaction. Understanding and support from significant people creates a favorable emotional background, which increases stress resistance. This is of great importance in mental illness, since the manifestation of the disease or a second episode is often associated with a number of severe stressful situations in the patient’s life.

Understanding and support from significant people creates a favorable emotional background, which increases stress resistance.

You can get help from loved ones. Someone close to you may have more complete information about the treatment of the disease or be able to recommend a trusted specialist who works according to the principles of evidence-based medicine. Thus, better quality treatment can be obtained.

You can relax and have less control over your speech, actions, manifestations of disorder. When close people are informed about the diagnosis, there is no need to control actions and speech so as not to give out a diagnosis. This self-control increases the overall level of anxiety and stress, which adversely affects the emotional state.

Awareness of loved ones will reduce or eliminate their anxiety due to “incomprehensible” human behavior. Mental illness affects relationships with significant people. Emotional detachment, irritability, impulsivity, apathy, aggressiveness, anxiety, which are manifested in various mental illnesses, rarely go unnoticed by loved ones. An unfavorable emotional state of a loved one causes anxiety, and a lack of understanding of the reasons for this condition can increase the anxiety of loved ones. Thus, the awareness of significant people can remove the burden of anxiety not only from the person himself, but also from his relatives.

Relatives will be able to warn about the deterioration when a person may not notice it. Mental illness can come back from remission or be chronic. If close people are informed about the disease, they will be able to see the corresponding signs and warn the patient about a possible deterioration. This can help to see a doctor in time and prescribe or adjust treatment to minimize symptoms, maintain functionality, and reduce the impact of a second episode on life.

Arguments against”

Friends may turn away, relatives may change their attitude. No one can predict how a particular person will react to the news of mental illness. Even a very close relationship may not be able to withstand these changes in life.

May be fired from work or not taken to a new job. It’s illegal, but no one is immune from it .

The fear of the people around you of a psychiatric diagnosis is stigmatized.

People respond poorly to a mental health diagnosis due to stigmatization

Stigmatization is a negative identification of an individual by a society for some reason, followed by a stereotypical manifestation of social reactions to this individual. That is, for example, people with mental disorders are often considered “outsiders” and are treated with fear, misunderstanding, aggression or ridicule.

The negative attitude towards mental illness has developed historically. Until there was a structured understanding of what the psyche is and how it works, people did not understand “abnormal” behavior, and it scared them . The fear of the unknown plays an important role in this. Not knowing the hard facts about mental illness gives space to the imagination and supports the distorted notion that people with mental illness are aggressive, dangerous, not independent, and so on.

Fighting stigma is education. This is the task of educational (schools, universities), charitable and medical institutions.

The patient himself can also contribute to the fight against stigma – stop hiding mental illness, give loved ones the opportunity to learn scientific facts about the disease, reduce their fear of the unknown, allow them to tell the truth about mental disorders to other people – and so on ad infinitum. The necessary literature can be asked from a psychiatrist or psychotherapist.

The patient himself can also contribute to the fight against stigma – to give loved ones the opportunity to learn the scientific facts about the disease, to reduce their fear of the unknown.

Before talking, it is better to “probe” the person’s opinion of mental disorders

If there is any doubt that the reaction to a psychiatric diagnosis will be adequate, it is possible to “probe” a person’s attitude to this topic from afar . You can discuss a news story, article, or fact about mental illness to “test the waters.” A person with flexible thinking will look at the problem from different angles, ask where this state comes from and what can be done with it.

Sometimes an unshakably negative attitude can change when a person learns about such a diagnosis from a loved one. Stereotypical representations can recede when an abstract image is replaced by a real, significant person.

Do not forget – you like to talk about frustration, not less important than the fact of what you’re talking about. Respect for personal boundaries, reasoning, openness, politeness and interest in feedback from the interlocutor are important attributes of sustainable communication. Respect for the interlocutor, environmentally friendly communication is less likely to cause aggression and rejection.

Respect for the interlocutor, environmentally friendly communication is less likely to cause aggression and rejection.

You will have to summarize the arguments “for” and “against” yourself

Everyone draws conclusions from the arguments himself. For some, four ” pros ” will not outweigh one “cons”, for others, on the contrary.

If you are going to draw up such a table of arguments, do not forget the main purpose of this action. The main task is to harmonize your psychological state.


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