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How Does Perfectionism Harm You?

When you struggle with perfectionism, you may find yourself making poor decisions. Your mind may turn to rigidity or procrastination. You could also exhibit signs of mental illness. All of these problems should be addressed by a qualified mental health professional.

Perfectionism and Mental Illnesses

According to a large-scale 2017 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, perfectionism is clinically significant in the following diagnoses:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Phobias
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Eating disorders

Additionally, it’s strongly connected with self-harm and suicidal ideation. With this in mind, therapists should look at perfectionism as a red flag for mental illnesses. You also may want to discuss your perfectionism with a qualified clinician who can explore possible diagnoses.

Perfectionism and Thought Patterns

On top of the related mental illnesses, perfectionism can cause other problems like rigidity and procrastination. These ways of thinking can impact your personality and relationships. You might feel stuck in these patterns without seeking treatment.


Perfectionism requires you to be on all the time. You constantly watch the behavior of yourself and others to ensure everything hits unreasonably high standards. When things fall short, you may feel disappointed. Realistically, there isn’t a way to consistently do everything perfectly.

Moreover, the mindset can cause black-and-white thinking. Something is either right or wrong, perfect or faulty. This type of thinking leaves zero room for nuance and variations in perspective. Different life experiences and cultures aren’t permitted. You limit yourself and others with perfectionism.


When you are a perfectionist, you usually can’t hit your goals. You’re aware that you shouldn’t criticize yourself as much as you do. You don’t think it’s a good idea to push yourself as hard as you do. Something like mental illness or trauma underlies the decision to do it anyways.

However, because you know you can’t be perfect, you might procrastinate starting any objectives or tasks. You may find yourself scared of starting because doing something means failing. Maybe you’d rather give up from the start than risk letting yourself or others down.

If you struggle with perfectionism, you might find yourself engaging in self-defeating mental behaviors like internal criticism and irrational thoughts. Perfectionism is a symptom of many mental health disorders. It causes dangerous thought patterns like rigidity and procrastination. You might feel stuck in your ways, but you don’t have to pursue change alone. The Guest House can provide you with a safe space to reflect on your choices. We can examine you for mental illnesses that may’ve gone unnoticed. We can also teach you better coping skills. When you’re ready, call (855) 483-7800.