Reasons why people resist accepting that they are mentally ill and then resist taking medication for their mental illness.
Supporting Someone with Bipolar - For Family and Friends
People resist accepting that they are mentally ill because:
They are experiencing denial - a common first reaction to shocking or bad news such as a death or the diagnosis of a seriously disabling illness.
- They are in pain due to the social stigma associated with mental illness. The implications for the future are also painful and involved:
- grieving the loss of some of their dreams and the ability to have normal lives
- lowering their expectations for what they will have in their lives
- accepting the need for long-term treatment
- They are experiencing a symptom of the illness, in one of several ways:
- continued, massive denial of problems a primitive defense mechanism to preserve the fragile sense of self-esteem that ill people have.
- delusional thinking, poor judgment, or poor reality testing.
People resist taking medication because:
- The side effects can be upsetting and unpleasant.
- It may mean admitting that they have a mental illness.
- It may feel like they are being controlled by an outside force. It can trigger issues people have about loss of power and control in their lives.
- Reducing symptoms, and thus seeing the limitations of their lives, can be more painful than being lost in psychosis. Many people in manic episodes prefer that high-energy state to the lower-energy one they feel on medication.