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8 behaviours often mistaken for mental disease but are completely normal

With a growing awareness of mental health globally, some personality quirks can be mistaken for signs of mental disorders when in fact, they are completely normal.

8 completely normal quirky personality traits often mistaken for mental health disorders [Image Credit: Antoni Shkraba]

From the vibrant streets of Nairobi to the serene landscapes of the Kenyan countryside, people exhibit a colorful array of behaviours that make us uniquely human.

However, in a world increasingly aware of mental health, it's easy to blur the lines between quirky habits and signs of a mental disorder.

You know them. They're the ones who prefer the company of a good book over a loud party. Often labeled as "introverted" or "antisocial", their preference for solitude can be mistaken for depression or social anxiety.


However, it’s normal for some people to recharge in solitude and feel overwhelmed by large social gatherings.

If the preference for isolation comes with persistent sadness, loss of interest in activities, or interferes significantly with daily functioning, it might be time to consult a professional.

We've all witnessed it, perhaps during a matatu ride or in a market squabble. Someone explodes in anger over something seemingly trivial.

It's easy to think, "They must have anger management issues or a deeper problem," yet, anger is a normal emotion and can be a healthy response to perceived injustices.


When anger is frequent, disproportionate, and affects relationships or work, it could signal underlying issues like depression, anxiety disorders, or other conditions that require professional attention.

Life's a party until it isn't. Someone who was once the life of the party now dreads social interactions.

It’s tempting to speculate about social anxiety or depression. However, people's social needs and comfort levels change over time due to various life circumstances.


If the avoidance of social interactions is accompanied by intense fear, worry, or impacts one’s ability to function in daily life then it might be more than just a phase.

Perfectionism, in moderation, drives excellence. However, when someone is excessively meticulous or distressed over imperfections, it’s often misconstrued as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Remember, high standards aren’t the same as OCD. But, if the need for perfection leads to significant distress, consumes hours of the day, or interferes with daily life, seeking a psychiatric evaluation is wise.


From talking to oneself to having unique rituals, eccentric habits are often misunderstood as signs of a deeper mental health issue.

In reality, these quirks make us interesting.

If these behaviors escalate to the point where they interfere with personal or professional life, or if they're a source of significant distress, it's worth investigating further.

Worrying about loved ones, work, or health is part of the human condition.


Quick to be labeled as Generalised Anxiety Disorder, it's important to differentiate.

When worry is excessive, hard to control, and affects everyday functioning, it might indicate an anxiety disorder that benefits from professional help.

Life in Kenya, like anywhere else, comes with its ups and downs, affecting our moods.

Quick shifts from happiness to sadness can be normal responses to life’s stresses.


The only caveat is when mood swings are severe, disrupt daily life, or include periods of mania or depression, it could be a sign of a mood disorder.

Getting lost in daydreams during a dull conference or while stuck in traffic is common. It's often mistakenly seen as a sign of attention deficit disorder (ADD).

If daydreaming significantly impairs attention to the point of affecting work, studies, or social interactions, it might be worth exploring further with a professional.


Our behaviors are influenced by experiences, emotions, and personality traits.

While it's crucial to be vigilant about our mental health, it's equally important not to hastily label every quirk as a disorder.

If you find yourself or someone you know struggling with any of these behaviors to the point where it significantly impacts daily life, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.


Psychiatrists and psychologists are trained to differentiate between personality quirks and mental disorders, offering guidance and support tailored to individual needs.

Editor's Note: Mindful Kenya offers mental health services on short USSD code *702*30#. By following the prompts a person seeking professional mental healthcare is linked with a specialist under a guarantee of anonymity.


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