Summary: While mental illness is a condition of the mind, that doesn't necessarily mean it's all in your head. Rather, mental illness is a very real thing many go through and often have a hard time knowing how to properly remedy it.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s all in your head,” when someone else describes your mental health challenges? Almost indicating that they are not real or valid because everything you’re thinking is all in your head. Maybe this has happened to you and you feel bad since the person you’re telling, such as a friend or family member, is not understanding your struggles because they cannot see them.

Man sitting on the floor hard thinking

Mental illness is often a hidden disorder, as in it’s not something that is physically visible. Unlike physical disabilities where one can see the person is physically incapable of doing something, a mental disorder is invisible and cannot be seen. The symptoms can sometimes be seen, but some people are very good at hiding it. So, when you hear someone tell you that what you’re dealing with is all in your head, it can make it harder for you to actually speak up about what you are feeling since you feel like others are not taking you seriously.

Well, in theory a mental illness is in the head, as it’s a brain disorder that was often caused by past trauma. While science has tried to prove a physical reason for a mental illness, such as the chemical imbalance theory, it has yet to find physical evidence for mental illness. However, mental illness and trauma does change how your brain functions, which can be detected in the brain by how underactive or overactive parts of the brain are. Mental illness is never caused by a lack of chemicals or a chemical imbalance, but rather due to past trauma and hereditary factors that make one more sustainable to developing mental illness.

So the question still remains, is it all in your head and if so, what can be done about it. Well, the truth is that it’s not all in your head, but you can change it with your head. Mental illness forms due to an association between past trauma or events and something negative. During childhood when the mind is highly suggestible and programmable, we develop patterns. When a child is abused, they develop different ways of dealing with the abuse. Not everyone who has a mental illness has a history of abuse, but rather another event could trigger the mental illness, and they may be more susceptible due to genetic factors.

Some people may have said to you, “Just think positively.” This may make you feel worse since you’re not able to just “think positively.” But, this actually is a key lesson to be learned here since that is part of the process of remedying and reversing mental health struggles. You can’t just go from chronic depression to thinking positively. That’s like crossing a gap where only a small portion of the bridge has been built. Rather, it’s about building the bridge, the foundation, to get you to the place of thinking positively.

A man is completing the construction of a bridge

What are some things that can work? There are a plethora of techniques and you have to find the one that works for you. It has to be taken slowly and one step at a time or else you’ll expect too much too quickly and burn yourself out. Rather, it’s about finding specific techniques to help you, little by little. There is no miracle cure, but rather small things here and there that add up to mental wellbeing. Some techniques can be entertainment such as listening to music, watching a movie or show, and playing games, exercising, taking a walk (especially in nature), and other helpful distractions to help you take your mind off what bothers you and release negativity. It’s not about blocking out the problem, but rather about finding ways that are beneficial in coping with negativity.

Each of these things add up to one part of the bridge, and the more you go with finding what helps you and makes you feel better, the more of the bridge that will be built until you can actually mentally be at the stage of talking about the trauma, changing your mindset, and start to think more towards a positive future instead of a grim one.

Mental illness, in theory, is in the mind as it’s a disorder that affects the mind. However, you can also use the mind to heal the problem. The mind and body are naturally good at healing on their own, but we often prevent the natural healing process through resistance and denial. Find some things to let this go and start addressing the root cause and your problems will be remedied.

Let me know how this works for you. Have a great day!

Additional Info

I’ve been told by others that my mental health challenges are all in my head. While that is true, it’s not as easy as just stopping thinking about what is causing the problems. Rather, it took time for this to happen, and past trauma had to be remedied first. I think the problem is that many people do not understand mental illness and thus say it’s all in someone’s head, when in reality there should be a better way of saying these things and helping the person out who has the problems.


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