Why Do Mental Health Disorders Go Untreated?

Mental illness nowadays is more common than some of the most diagnosed physical illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, and even diabetes and it affects over 250 million people around the world. Some of the most common mental health disorders are:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: which shows symptoms of low energy, restlessness, muscle tension, irritability, and trouble sleeping.

Clinical Depression: which is marked by crushing sadness accompanied by a general sense of hopelessness, lack of energy, and little to almost no pleasure from things they once enjoyed.

Bipolar Disorder: which involves severe mood swings and constantly alternating between episodes of mania and depression.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): which is a very severe form of anxiety that consists of recurring and disturbing thoughts, ritualized behaviors that the person feels compelled to perform, and sometimes an extreme aversion to dirt, germs, and illness, and the need for things to be in exact order.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: is caused by experiencing a tragic or terrifying event, such as a car accident, and often manifests in the form of nightmares or disturbing recollections of the event during the day.

Schizophrenia: which shows with auditory, visual, and olfactory delusions or hallucinations. It has several different levels ranging from paranoia to dissociation from reality.

Why Mental Health Diagnosis Are Missed

In most cases, mental illnesses do not begin manifesting in a person until a little later in life. In 50% of people, symptoms begin at age 14, and by age 15 about 75% of people with mental illness experience symptoms. Many of these people go left untreated, which can lead to major problems and hardships throughout their lives. There are many different reasons why mental illness goes untreated.

Despite a light being shown in recent years on the importance of mental health care, many people are afraid of being stigmatized if they admit that they do need help. No matter what walk of life a person comes from, they may feel it is too much to risk their position in life to get the help they need, whether it is their social or professional position. Admitting your situation to a doctor, spouse, family member, or friend may feel difficult and too much of a risk to do so.

Denial of Mental Illness is Real

Some people may just feel that they don’t actually need the help or they might just not know they need the help. For one, they could be in denial. Admitting to yourself that you may have a mental illness and seeking help may be too much for some to comprehend. Others may be unaware that they need help simply because they are unaware that what they are experiencing is a recognized mental health issue that can be treated.

This can occur in illnesses such as social anxiety disorder, persistent depressive disorder, ADHD, and many others. Another reason they may be unaware of is due to a condition called anosognosia. This happens in disorders like schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders and essentially impairs a person to the point they are unaware anything is wrong.

Professional Help for Mental Illnesses

Many mental illnesses often make seeking help a very daunting task for many reasons. For someone with depression, they may know that help is something that could change their life for the better, but finding therapies and going to an appointment may fall under the “impossible tasks” column for them. When someone is suffering from a social anxiety disorder, telling your doctor about your problem or reaching out to a therapist can feel very intimidating. Just like it is difficult to drive yourself to the doctor when you have the flu, it is equally difficult for some to get help with their mental illness.

Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Cayla Clark, BA

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

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