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Mental health awareness is steadily increasing in Singapore, but the phenomenon still remains taboo in some circles. Keeping things hush-hush, some believe that what is not spoken will not harm them. But mental disorders of all kinds and severities still persist for those who push them to the side for fear of social alienation or feeling like an “other”. These conditions work in the background to diminish our quality of life. By identifying these disorders, we can manage them, have control over our minds and learn how to live with our disorders and not constantly fight against them. Here is information on some little-known mental disorders to guide you along this path.
Many don’t consider Depression a mental disorder. Often used casually to replace the word “sad” and dramatise a bad experience, depression is actually a serious mental disorder that five per cent of the global population suffers from. Symptoms can be severe, with common symptoms being perpetually sad, losing interest in activities, a lack of appetite, trouble sleeping, and suicidal thoughts. In today’s world, these symptoms could be written off as symptoms of stress and casually overlooked, and they often are. But depression is a far more serious and pervasive issue.
Depression can be triggered and worsened by many factors: a troubled family, social issues like relationship problems and cyberbullying, global issues such as encountering racism and homophobia, and more. With these problems so rampant now in our society, they take a toll on victims who have often been taught to “take the high road” and simply disengage or put in the effort to help solve these issues. But depression makes it feel impossible to tackle serious issues at all and can take a toll on victims, eliminating their own concerns of living and survival.
Seeking a diagnosis and help from a professional counsellor in Singapore can be lifesaving. Medications and professional therapy can heavily alleviate these concerns, but victims must take the first step in recognising this disorder and removing all shame from seeking help first. Remember, it is never too late to seek a therapist for depression in Singapore. It is never too late to choose you.
2. Narcissistic personality disorder
Narcissism has been a catalyst for strained social and family lives for a long time, and it’s not just because we live in the age of social media. Narcissistic personality disorder is an actual condition that a mental health professional can properly diagnose. Symptoms include having an unreasonably high sense of one’s own importance, a lack of empathy for others, and a persistent desire for attention and admiration. Individuals with this condition did not choose this mindset yet are often considered self-centred and selfish. The reality is that they live with self-worth issues and are upset by even the slightest criticism. People with this condition may see their social lives taking a huge hit, and many would not choose to live with the anger and depression that may come with it.
Approaching Narcissistic personality disorder with care and identifying this within yourself can become the gateway to seeking therapy and psychotherapy with appropriate medical professionals. Those living with this condition may not want to admit they have it, even to themselves, due to them not wanting to feel like something is intrinsically wrong within. However, seeking help could mean alleviating these feelings of lacking self-worth, opening them up to feeling more, empathising better, and having a generally improved social life.
3. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Commonly referred to as OCD, Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a chronic condition affecting a person’s every day through obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviours. One symptom is intrusive and unwanted thoughts, categorised as obsessions. These are unwavering thoughts about cleanliness, harm, and symmetry, which can overtake one’s daily life and make them hyper-fixated on cleaning, self-harm, and harming (or trying not to harm) others.
Another form of obsessive behaviour is compulsions. These are repetitive behaviours that people living with this disorder feel compelled to perform. These actions can range from excessive hand-washing, repeating certain gestures or phrases, and repeatedly needing to check things, such as if doors are locked, or the stove is turned off, to achieve peace of mind. These compulsions and obsessions often lead to severe anxiety in their daily and social lives. Those living with OCD may feel like bad people for having thoughts about wanting to harm others, or they may lack self-worth from feeling frustrated about their thoughts and anxieties.
The onset of OCD can be caused by trauma and abuse, and there is evidence that genetic and biological factors also play a part in its forming. However, there is hope for those seeking aid. Medications and several forms of therapy are available to guide those in need. Though this condition is chronic, turning OCD from a constant screaming at the front of your mind to a whispering back at the back of it is very possible, with avenues present to pursue this change now. Remember, the compulsions are a small part of you, not the whole of you. Be conscious of the intrusive voices, and remember that taking steps to alleviate the obsessions is well-deserved.
4. Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)
Formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder, DID is a complex and rare mental disorder involving one individual having two or more distinct personalities or identities within them. These identities, or “alters”, can have their own names, behaviours, talking styles, fashion, and personal preferences. This leads to depersonalisation from the self: a detachment from their own thoughts, feelings, and body, and feeling as though the world around them is fake and distorted. Other symptoms are amnesia and intrusive thoughts.
Feeling burdened by these unwanted thoughts, coupled with flashbacks about past traumatic events and memory gaps where they don’t remember their recent actions, are all results of switching between alters. Dissociating from traumatic events to protect themselves now is a defense mechanism that many never could employ while young. Unhealthy defense mechanisms severely affect mental health and are ineffective self-preservation tactics in the long run.
Living with DID can be easier. Medical professionals can prescribe medications for depression and anxiety to aid in alleviating these stressors daily. Therapy and psychotherapy are available, with the goal being to integrate these different personalities and help individuals develop coping skills, improve communication and links between alters, and process and heal past trauma. Beginning this journey is hard, but time will pass anyway, and living after will be much easier.
These little-known mental disorders may be heard but rarely spoken of in Singapore for fear of alienation and disapproving glares. Identifying, managing, and living with (not against) these conditions is the only way to live in peace and get better over time. Awareness is key, and destigmatising mental disorders removes the shame and taboo behind them, making everyone’s journey all that more comfortable.
A Space Between understands the importance of working with a therapist and offers a safe space to conduct these therapy sessions. We match clients to suitable therapists and allocate rooms at our organisation for these sessions. We also hold Events for those seeking community and conversations about mental health topics in Singapore, ranging from Transgender-affirming talks to discussions about Art as Therapy, and more. Join us for a safe space where no public or private conversation is too taboo.
No matter what you’re facing, perhaps our website can offer up some solace or comfort. Know that you’re not alone, and that there is help available. This can be hard to keep in mind if you haven’t quite found the right support system. While it’s definitely not easy to find the right fit—whether you’re looking for a support group or a mental health provider—with diligence, it’s totally possible.
If you are a therapist, life coach or counsellor looking to join our growing community, head over to book a tour once you have learnt about the plans we offer. At A Space Between, there is a ready league of providers you can network with. With professionals from various backgrounds and therapy practices, there are bound to be the ones you can connect with. Private practice does not have to be lonely.