Shame is a powerful and often debilitating emotion that can significantly impact mental health. It can derive from various experiences, such as trauma, abuse, or societal messages about acceptable behavior. Many of the impacts of shame on mental health can lead to dangerous consequences, such as negative self-talk, self-doubt, and self-isolation, making it challenging to seek help and support. Since breaking the cycle of shame is essential for improving mental health and well-being, it’s important to be open and honest about these thought patterns that may deter people from seeking the help they need.
Integrative Healthcare Center stands at the forefront of reliable mental health treatments. We understand shame’s intense role in our overall well-being and provide the necessary treatment plans to combat these challenging thought patterns. To ensure you’re well-informed before deciding on treatment, let’s explore how shame impacts mental health and why putting off treatment is never the right move.
What Causes Intense Feelings of Shame?
Intense feelings of shame can stem from a wide range of circumstances, including childhood experiences of neglect or abuse, experiences of failure or rejection, societal expectations or stigmas, and even genetic and biological factors. When someone experiences shame, they may feel like they have violated an internal or external standard of behavior, causing them to feel unworthy or defective. These intense feelings of shame can be overwhelming and cause a person to withdraw from social situations, struggle with self-esteem, and experience other mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
Many of these emotions and ideologies happen unconsciously and can lead to feelings of disconnection from others. People may feel separated from themselves and their peers while allowing negative thought patterns to take control of their lives. They may feel inadequate, obsolete, or unable to be loved or deserving of happiness. The dangers of these thought patterns appear cyclical regarding mental health treatment, as individuals may seek treatment, get discouraged, and fall back into a lull of conscious reasoning.
Understanding How Shame Impacts Mental Health
Shame impacts mental health in various ways. While the source of shame varies from person to person, many dealing with these negative thought patterns have trouble recognizing their strengths and achievements. Instead, they tend to focus on perceived flaws and shortcomings, which can lead to the aforementioned negative self-image, low self-esteem, and feelings of worthlessness.
Over time, these continuously negative thought patterns can lead to various mental health issues, such as feelings of loneliness, anxiety, depression, and co-dependency. Some individuals, especially those who have experienced a traumatic event that triggered their shame, may inadvertently bring about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by reliving those moments repeatedly or being prone to triggers that subconsciously evoke these memories.
As a result of this worsening mental state, some people may develop eating disorders or excessive and dangerous anger levels. These feelings can then lead to them neglecting their physical health and engaging in risky behaviors such as:
- Substance abuse
- Sexual risk-taking
- Seeking unhealthy or codependent relationships
- Acts of violence
- Overspending money
How to Overcome Your Shame
Overcoming intense feelings of shame is no easy task, and no two processes are the same. However, there are some very crucial steps one can take to alleviate these thought patterns and ease their state of mind. Here are some strategies to better one’s mindset if shame has caused lapses in positive mental health:
- Recognize and Accept Your Shame – Denial is one of the worst things a person can hold when facing shame. Acknowledging that these thought patterns present various dangers to your overall well-being is pertinent. Identify the root causes of your shame and how it impacts your body and mind. Then, understand that you need a change in your life to overcome these feelings.
- Practice Self-Acceptance – Viewing your mistakes as behaviors rather than a reflection of your self-worth is important. Once you have accepted that shame is present in your life, work to accept other aspects of your persona. You’d be surprised how much this little confidence boost can do for your mental well-being.
- Give Yourself a Safe Environment – Attempting to overcome shame in an environment that doesn’t suit your needs is impractical. Ensure that you provide yourself with a safe place to be yourself, be vulnerable, express your feelings, and receive acceptance and empathy from others. If an external factor seems to cause your shame, remove that factor from your life while taking steps to overcome your negative thought patterns.
- Reach Out to Close Companions – Reconnecting with friends, family, and other close companions in your life can go a long way in creating a nourishing network of support – this is especially true if misconceived thoughts about how others view you contribute to your shame. Understand that others want to give you love and support, care about you, and want what’s best for the person they love.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Sever Connections – For those who experience shame as a result of interactions with another person, not all cases are the same. Sometimes, severing ties with someone who impacts you negatively can work better than attempting to rekindle a previous connection. Don’t feel forced to make amends if the person in question doesn’t benefit you and fuels your shame even more.
- Seek Mental Health Therapy – No matter how well you may implement these strategies to overcome your shame, utilizing therapy for mental health will always be a viable option. Mental health treatment plans such as those provided by Integrative Healthcare Center can help you build self-esteem and develop healthy coping mechanisms to help you break free from these negative and cyclical thought patterns. By speaking with a licensed professional, you can create strategies for preventing shame in the future and closely examine these root causes to ensure they don’t catalyze again.
Prioritize Your Mental Health With IHC
Better mental health begins at Integrative Healthcare Center. If you’ve experienced how shame impacts mental health, our evidence-based care for the mind and body can alleviate many of these challenges and reverse negative thought patterns. We combine mainstream and complementary practices to focus on your mental, physical, and emotional health.
We offer treatment options such as adult psychiatric services, transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy (TMS), biofeedback, and other wellness therapies. With flexible appointments and care, we can help treat depression, anxiety, other mood disorders, PTSD, stress and anger management, substance use disorder, and more.