11 Little Personality Quirks You Might Not Realize Can Be Signs Of A Mental Disorder, According To Experts
Each and every one of us is so incredibly unique. It's our different personalities and eccentricities that make us charming, and funny, and amazing to be around. But sometimes, those same quirks can be a sign of a mental disorder — and sometimes even one that requires a bit of treatment.
As an example, let's say you have an undying passion for orderliness. This can simply be due to your healthy desire to have a pristine desk, an organized closet, and a well-maintained apartment. No problem with that. But if it turns into something that consumes your day, then this "quirk" has officially passed over into the land of mental illness.
It can be pretty difficult to tell what's a problem, however, since quirks and mental disorders often look the same. In fact, "... the line between quirky and mentally ill is quite fine," says Life-Well's Dr. Michele Barton, in an email to Bustle. The difference, in a lot of ways, is in our we maintain that line. "Most of us walk around daily displaying symptoms of mental illness regularly, and function well without meeting the full criteria to be formally diagnosed with mental illness," she says.
Some of us, on the other hand, have a quirk (or worse) that is simply too much to handle. If that's the case with you, there's no shame in reaching out to a therapist. Doing so means getting back to living a healthy life, and putting that quirk back in its place. Read on for some signs it may be time to do just that.
1. You Have A Hard Time Sitting Still
It's totally normal to fidget when you're stuck in a boring meeting, or when you really want to get off the bus. But did you know that constant restlessness can be a sign of a mental disorder? ADHD may spring to mind, since many people know it's connected to hyperactivity. But people who fidget may also be suffering from anxiety, licensed counselor Monte Drenner tells me. If you've ever felt anxious and caught yourself nervously tapping your foot, then you'll agree this makes perfect sense.
2. You're The Shy One Of The Group
While there's absolutely nothing wrong with being shy, it can be a sign of "social phobia or even avoidant personality disorder, in extreme cases," says psychiatrist Dr. Scott Carroll, MD, in an email to Bustle. If your cheeks turn pink when you get called on in class, that's one thing. But it's possible crippling shyness may be something else entirely. If this is your life, it may be time to ask a professional.
3. You're Always In Bed By Eight
One of my favorite parts of the day is when I get to go to bed. I know that sounds totally uninspiring, but I think we can all agree — there's not much better than a comfy bed, a few snacks, and some Netflix. But take note if going to bed is all you want to do. As Carroll tells me, fatigue can be a symptom of generalized anxiety, and even depression. This is especially true if you get easily fatigued, so take note.
4. You Sometimes Feel Paranoid
Maybe you're the mom of your friend group, and are always telling people to wear a jacket, call when they get home, etc. etc. But if you constantly point out what could go wrong in any given situation, or think people are out to get you, your nervous ways could be a sign of a bigger problem. "This could be a sign of paranoia, which could be linked to a mental illness that involves psychosis, such as schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder," says forensic psychologist Ali Mandelblatt, Psy.D., in an email to Bustle.
5. You Struggle To Make A Decision
As Mandelblatt says, "We have all had the conversation — ‘what do you want for dinner tonight?'" And that's totally OK. We're all occasionally overcome with a case of indecisiveness. But constant difficulties making decisions can be a sign of depression. Just so you know.
6. You Love A Good Shopping Spree
There's absolutely nothing wrong with spending the day at the mall. It only becomes a problem when shopping (and spending) is your number one go-to activity. "Those afflicted with bipolar disorder often engage in excessive spending and/or other pleasurable activities," Mandelblatt says. "Therefore, sometimes excessive shopping ... could be a sign of this mood disorder." Is this your only past-time, and/or one that feels uncontrollable? Then it may be worth getting checked out.
7. You're Always The First To Get Bored
Whenever you and your friends go out, you complain about feeling "bored" pretty much instantly. And whenever your SO comes over, you spend the night yawning away. Does this describe you? Then it very well could be you're suffering from depression. That's because a loss of interest in what used to bring you joy is a top sign, Carroll tells me. When that happens, it makes sense that boredom won't be far behind.
8. You Are Bursting With Creativity
If you've been bitten with the creative bug, then go ahead and stay up all night writing the next great American novel. But do take note if you're feeling overwhelmed by a creative streak, can never get to sleep, and/or find yourself staying up for days on end. "You might have bipolar disorder," Carroll says. Even though it's weird to think of creativity as "bad," trust me when I say too much of it is definitely worth looking into.
9. You Get Carried Away In Conversations
Hey, if you have a thought, let the world know. But if people constantly tell you that they can't get a word in edgewise, it may be time to look at the facts. "This could be a symptom of bipolar disorder, as those afflicted with this condition often speak rapidly and/or on many difficult topics at once, making it hard to follow their train of thought," Mandelblatt says. Duly noted.
10. You Prefer To Spend Evenings Alone
Remember what I said about my love of comfy beds and Netflix? I also love an evening spent alone. If this describes you, too, then you likely understand and agree there's nothing wrong with some quality solo time. And yet, needing it 24/7 can be a sign of depression, Mandelblatt tells me. If you can't be bothered to go out, keep monitoring your mood and get treatment if necessary.
11. You Need Order In Your Life
Let's go back to my original example of those of us who love a clean desk, and a perfectly organized closet. While there's nothing wrong with that, it can be a sign of obsessive compulsive personality disorder, anxiety, or even depression, Carroll tells me. If you feel like your organizing ways have gotten out of hand, don't be afraid to talk to a professional.
And remember, there's absolutely no shame in seeking help. After all, eccentricities are one thing, but mental illness is something entirely different — and it's most definitely not something you should have to deal with.
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