What Shame Is and How It Affects Mental Health

woman feeling shame in her bathroom, sitting on the floor

We may hear the word “shame” often, but do we truly understand what it means and how it can affect our daily lives? It’s difficult to recognize when this emotion is affecting us. It’s easy to mistake low self-esteem, sadness, anxiety, or guilt for shame. This feeling can be the most painful and destructive of all human emotions, if not recognized and addressed properly.

In this post, we’ll discuss a little more about what shame is and how it can affect our mental health.

What is Shame?

Shame is a painful feeling that can arise in response to real or perceived failure. It is often accompanied by feelings such as 

  • Humiliation
  • Worthlessness
  • Self-Loathing

This can also make us feel like we’re the only ones who have ever experienced such a difficult and embarrassing emotion. It can also be an incredibly debilitating emotion that can negatively impact every aspect of a person’s life.

This emotion can be triggered by something a person has done, or by something they are. It can also be triggered by things that are completely out of our control, such as the actions of others. 

Shame is often associated with guilt, which is the feeling we get when we realize we’ve done something wrong. However, guilt is usually based on our own actions, while this emotion can be based on our own actions or the actions of others.

How Can Shame Affect Mental Health?

While shame is a universal human emotion, it is particularly prevalent in those who suffer from mental illness. In fact, it is thought to be a major contributing factor to the development and maintenance of mental health disorders.

Shame can have a profound effect on mental health. It can lead to feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression. This can also cause people to act out in destructive ways, such as through addiction, eating disorders, self-harm, and even suicide. Living a life of shame can lead to self-defeating behaviors, physical health problems, and psychological disorders such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Eating disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Excessive anger
  • Feelings of loneliness and emptiness

Shame is particularly harmful to mental health because it leads to feelings of isolation and disconnection. This feeling can also prevent people from seeking help for their mental health problems, as they may be too embarrassed or ashamed to admit that they need help. People who are experiencing shame may have the following behaviors:

  • Less likely to take healthy risks
  • More likely to relapse back into problem behaviors
  • Often avoid relationships, vulnerability, and community
  • Prone to suppressing their emotions
  • Often feel worthless, depressed, and anxious

Recognizing these behaviors and emotions in ourselves and others can be helpful in determining when one is experiencing shame. Being aware of what this feeling is and how it affects us can help us to better cope with its effects, emotions, and mental health challenges it may bring.

Seek Professional Help

Shame is a very powerful emotion that can have a significant impact on our lives. If you’re struggling with this feeling, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional. They can help you understand the root cause of your shame and work with you to develop healthy coping mechanisms.

This is a very painful emotion, but it is possible to overcome it with the right support. Contact Solace Emotional Health today to make an appointment with a mental health professional who can help you work through and overcome shame.