6 Mental Illnesses We Often Mistake For Character Traits

Written by Chaitra Krishnan, MA (Journalism & Mass Communication)  • 

When we get a fever or even just a running nose, we go to a doctor and find a way to get better. Sadly, this rule applies only to physical illness and not for those that affect our mental health. The social stigma attached to mental illness is deeply rooted in our society. This stigma is so toxic that it adds to the troubles of people who are already struggling with mental health disorders. The person who is affected as well as the people around him ignore the fact that there’s something wrong. Over time, the behavior of the mentally ill person gets normalized to an extent that it becomes a character trait and everyone learns to live with it.

Ignorance about various mental health issues and lack of open-mindedness often deny treatment to people who have a mental illness. By doing so, the person himself and the people around him suffer a great deal for years. This is why it is very important to educate yourself about various mental health issues than can masquerade as character traits. In this article, we will be introducing you to a few among them. Read on to know more.

1. The Divine Self

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These are people with very high self-esteem and they consider themselves to be superior. Such people suffer from narcissistic personality disorder and they cannot stand even the slightest of criticism. In an argument, they often get worked up when they run out of objective points. People who suffer from narcissistic personality disorder tend to satisfy their inner thirst for power by belittling others. They often exaggerate their own image and achievements and believe that they are the most righteous person in their circles. They might also become aggressive when they don’t get the attention and entitlement they feel they deserve. Their self-image is so perfect that they will never accept that there’s something wrong with them. If you realize that you have signs of this disorder, you should seek the help of a psychologist immediately (1).

2. The Perfectionist

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Remember Monica Geller from the sitcom Friends? There’s a scene in one of the episodes when Monica finds it difficult to sleep because she left her shoes in the living room in an unorganized manner. If this is what your life has been like, you need help. Being clean and organized is just good sense but it’s important to draw a line between good habits and being obsessive about them. Being too much of a perfectionist might hint towards a mental health condition called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). People who have OCD often fear contamination or dirt, forgetting to lock the door or turn off the stove, etc. If you think you have OCD, don’t worry and know that it can be treated (2).

3. The Shy Girl

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A person who is unusually shy to interact with others may be suffering from schizoid personality disorder. They also might have a very narrow range of emotional expressions and prefer spending time alone. People who suffer from this often shy away from close relationships and do not show much interest in sexual activities. They have difficulty in expressing emotions according to the situation and are often dull when it comes to social events. A mental health professional can help you recover if you feel that you’re suffering from this disorder (3).

4. The Worry and Hurry Person

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Occasionally getting a little anxious is normal and nobody can escape from that. However, if you’re getting anxious regularly and without any particular reason, you might be suffering from anxiety disorder. In such cases, you always tend to become impatient and waiting may feel like something impossible and painful. Also, a person suffering from anxiety disorder will have a tough time while relaxing. They keep worrying about every little thing constantly. This disorder can be treated with the help of a mental health care professional (4).

5. The Angry, Impulsive Person

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Who doesn’t like being a little impulsive? And who doesn’t get angry at times? These are normal human reactions but if this happens too often, and uncontrollably, the person may be suffering from borderline personality disorder. It involves intense emotions followed by reckless behavior. People who are affected by this disorder often have deep relationships that always end in failure and they might have a distorted image of themselves. If not treated, the person might end up hurting themselves or the people around (5).

6. The Sherlock

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If you know someone who constantly spies on other people and keeps doubting them, they might be suffering from paranoid personality disorder. This disorder often develops during childhood or early teens and it is found more commonly in men than women. People suffering from this disorder find it very difficult to trust the loyalty of others and they are quite unforgiving and tend to hold grudges. Therapy and care can help them recover from this disorder gradually (6).

It’s very important to treat mental health issues because they affect a person’s quality of life as well as that of their loved ones’. And it’s high time that we stop normalizing mental health problems as character traits and help people get the right treatment. Let’s strive to make a world that’s healthy inside out!

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