Aphantasia and mental illness

Cat asked 10 months ago
1121 views 4 comments

Since this is brain business, I’ve been wondering if aphantasia and mental illness may possibly have some kind of link? I have bipolar disorder and grew up with severe anxiety, which was treated with mindfullness which did NOT work! I now wonder if that is because I cannot picture the beach I’m supposed to be walking on…

Has anyone else struggled with mindfulness/meditation?

Does anyone else have mental illness too? The brain is so connected and complex, I can’t help but wonder if there could be something there.

Rachel C January 29, 2020 11:34 pm

I definitely think my anxiety and depression is less than it normally would be because of my aphantasia. As I’m forced to be in the present, I think it helps ground me more than someone with anxiety and mental images would be. However, because I’m constantly in the moment, the emotions I feel when I’m anxious or upset is incredibly overwhelming. i can almost not think of anything else because I HAVE nothing else to really fall back on. It’s sort of a Catch 22 I suppose.

Rich James February 11, 2020 05:10 am

hello, new member here funnily enough because my therapist mentioned aphantasia – i have been describing this phenomenom for many years both to peers and other therapists, i have struggled with mental health most of my life and i think in reflection aphantasia probably adds to my frustrations more than anything with memory loss (visual memory and cues) which often lead to disorienting situations

Anna Pataky September 20, 2020 12:13 am

I find that meditation, at least in the sense where they ask you imagine being somewhere else is rather useless. Someone could play waves crashing which has a soothing effect from assocation, but I’m not imagining a beach to go with it. Just the memories and emotions associated with it. And by memories, I mean my reflections of the matter? I find it really hard to word my memories because I don’t quite see them but there are just things I know, y’know? But, to answer your question, I have a plethora of diagnosed anxiety disorders as well as major depressive disorder. Talking through things is usually how I work through things, rather than meditating. I have to speak it out loud to make sense of it. I don’t see futures I’m afraid but I think about what could happen and that is what sets off my PTSD or panic disorder. I feel as though everything is very highly emotion based. And sometimes the stimulation around can put me right back in a moment of time that I might not be able to place, but instead of replaying the memory, I’m replaying the feelings I had when I last had the same scent, breeze, vocal alignment, etc.

I personally think there is a connection there, but I’m a designer, not a psychologist and it is not within my realm to research. But, as someone who has been digging through research papers about aphantasia, a lot of documented papers seem to say that those with aphantasia are less likely to have mental illness and less likely to experience epilepsy, strokes, etc. I think there is room for many studies to be done in regards to mental health and aphantasia!

heidi stjacques December 03, 2020 12:23 pm

I do! hey! new here. i have bipolar2 and anxiety, agoraphobia, ptsd.. i have the most impossible time doing any meditating or mindfullness or memory recall. it feels helpless sometimes.

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