Just because someone appears to be exhibiting out of character behaviors when they are sick, doesn’t mean that they are not responsible for their actions or that they can’t control themselves any longer. In fact, the opposite may be true; sometimes the stress of being sick and in pain takes people outside of their comfort zones and they seek out outlets to relieve stress and anxiety (often in ways that are negative). For medical professionals and caregivers, it’s critical to recognize the warning signs of behaviors gone rogue and take proactive steps to protect others from harm.
It’s not uncommon for the symptoms of an illness to make people behave in uncharacteristically out-of-character ways. The unpredictability can be attributed to a number of factors, including the severity and type of illness, as well as the person’s coping skills.
But it can also be due to something called somatization disorder. This is when a person experiences physical pain or discomfort but does not have any underlying medical explanation for it. They will often misattribute the symptom to another condition they are aware of, like irritable bowel syndrome or depression.
This may sound like the opposite of hypochondria– someone who imagines their health problems are worse than they really are– but there are some subtle differences between the two conditions.
A mood disorder in which the person’s moods swings from periods of over-excitement (mania) or irritability (depression) to periods of sadness and low energy.
Mood swings can be severe, with rapid changes to emotional states that may last only hours or days. These changes are often unpredictable, and may result in a person’s temperament and personality changing dramatically.
The symptoms affect a person’s thoughts and feelings as well as their physical state. An episode is also likely to have a noticeable impact on how they act and interact with others. Bipolar Disorder has some common warning signs including difficulty sleeping, restlessness, talking excessively, racing thoughts, high levels of creativity and impulsiveness. Although there is no cure for this illness it can be managed with medication if diagnosed early enough.
Some personality disorders are linked to mental illnesses that can cause severe out of character behavior. A person with bipolar disorder may act impulsively or unpredictably when manic, while someone with paranoid personality disorder might become aggressive and irrational as they worry about things that others would find trivial. It’s important to be aware that people experiencing a mental health crisis may not always make rational decisions or know what they’re doing. Talk to them calmly and offer help if you think it’s needed. Give space and provide care without asking too many questions. If the person doesn’t want to talk about what’s going on, don’t press for information—just be there for them instead. Offer the person coping skills like meditation or deep breathing exercises so they have some tools at their disposal to use when feeling overwhelmed by their emotions.
People who suffer from drug addiction are susceptible to many different types of behavior. If they are not in the middle of an episode, they may be a completely different person. They may seem friendly and outgoing but when they need their next fix, they will become aggressive and demanding. Drug addiction is hard to control because there is always that craving for the drug. People who have this addiction will try anything to get more drugs and it usually ends up being something illegal like robbery or breaking and entering. It can lead to jail time, family problems and financial problems. Alcoholism: Alcoholism also causes unpredictable out of character behavior because alcohol affects people differently. It makes some people mellow while others act out aggressively with violent tendencies.
What Can We Do to Help?
If you’re a caregiver and need to step back for a while, it’s important to have an open dialogue with your loved one. Let them know what’s going on, that you care about their feelings and that they’re not alone. Ask them if they would like help coming up with a plan for when you’re not around. It can be as simple as providing a list of friends or family members they might contact in the event they need assistance or calling ahead to let the pharmacy know how many prescriptions are needed each week. You can also explore different living arrangements such as assisted living facilities or nursing homes, both before and after there is an emergency situation where these are necessary. Knowing how much time you will be absent will make all these arrangements easier. For example, deciding whether someone needs more care now so you don’t have to rush finding something later. When choosing between alternative living arrangements, always think about what would best suit your loved one’s needs now and in the future (i.e., having access to medical care).
Mental Health Awareness
Anxiety and depression are a common occurrence in people with chronic illness. When the person is already struggling to deal with their physical pain, it can be hard for them to have a panic attack when they are struggling to cope. The mind becomes the enemy when they cannot control what is happening. Their thoughts become their worst enemies which causes an irrational fear that something bad will happen if they don’t take action.
A lot of these behaviors are often dismissed as childish or immature but this is not the case. Mental health issues should not be ignored and should not be used as an excuse to stop treatment. Educating oneself on symptoms and treatments can help reduce the stigma that surrounds mental illnesses. There are so many factors that go into mental health including genetics, medication side effects, chronic stressors such as finances, relationships and other illnesses. There is no one size fits all answer for mental health disorders.
Mental illness is a battle that can alter behavior. The nature of behavior can impact those we love. Even though one’s behavior is a mental illness state, it’s not always excusable. However, it’s important to know it is an illness. Sometimes being out of character can’t be controlled. But the help available can prevent future effects on others.
Until our beautiful minds meet again. Be safe out there. Many blessings and much love. Remember Everyday Minds Matter 🦋 – Della 🦋