Think about how you treat a friend when they are struggling. Odds are, you do your best to be kind, patient, and understanding with them. You don’t shame them for feeling the way they do; tell them they have nothing to be sad about or minimise their pain. Yet, when it comes to being kind, patient, and compassionate with ourselves, we often lack the skills to do so.

If you are reading this article, you probably thought: “What is wrong with me?” Unfortunately, that question often means that you are a person who is having a hard time right now. And just like a friend in pain, you deserve kindness, patience, and understanding too.

It is common to think that we should be able to handle our problems on our own or that we should be able to “get over” complicated feelings quickly. However, mental health professionals know that it can be challenging. Even if it does not feel like it sometimes, you are strong. And asking for help is one of the strongest things you can do. It takes much courage to ask for help, and you should be proud of yourself for taking that step.

Let’s get into some concrete steps you can take when you feel like something is wrong. These steps may not all work for you, but consider trying a few and see what helps you feel better.

Why You May Feel Like Something Is Wrong With You

It is not uncommon to think thoughts like: “what is wrong with me?” or “how to find out what is wrong with me.” As a result, you may struggle to complete even the simplest of tasks, feel like you are not making progress in life, or generally feel down and out. Although these feelings can be frustrating, confusing, and even scary, knowing you are not alone is essential. In fact, there are several reasons why you may be feeling this way.

Feeling Overwhelmed

Overwhelmed is a feeling you get when you feel you have too much on your plate and do not know how to deal with it. You feel as if you are being crushed, and your thoughts are rushing at a speed you cannot understand. Moreover, you might feel dizzy, feel your body go numb, or feel your heart pounding out of your chest. You feel like something is wrong with you.

One of the most common reasons why people feel like something is wrong with them is because they are overwhelmed. Life can be busy and stressful, and it’s easy to feel like you are being pulled in multiple directions. Feeling overwhelmed can be a constant battle, whether it’s because of work, family, or other responsibilities.

Feeling Stuck

Another reason why you may feel like something is wrong with you is if you are feeling stuck. For example, perhaps you feel like you are not progressing in your career or are stuck in a relationship that doesn’t bring you joy. Feeling stuck can be a frustrating experience, and it is essential to take steps to identify what’s holding you back. For example, do you feel the way you do because you miss your ex? Or maybe you are dealing with peer pressure?

If you have a clear vision of your ideal life and believe you are not living up to it, you may begin to think something is amiss. People often find themselves on a constant trail of thoughts when they feel stuck. They may think, “what is wrong with me,” “why am I single” or even “what is wrong with me mentally”. These thoughts can be terrifying, but we will soon see how you can cope with them.

Dealing with Setbacks

Sometimes it can feel like nothing seems to work out for you no matter what you do. Maybe you’ve been applying for jobs but can’t seem to get hired, or you’ve been trying to meet someone special but keep getting ghosted.

Setbacks and failures are a natural part of life and do not mean something is wrong with you. Sometimes, it feels like life is not going our way, which can be frustrating. We might try everything we can to change things, but it does not work. This can make us feel like something is wrong with us. Nonetheless, the reality is that some things are simply beyond our control, no matter how hard we try.

When facing a challenging situation, start by thinking about what you can control. It’s important to accept that some things are not in our hands, which is okay.

Mental Health Issues

Feeling like something is wrong with you can be a sign of a deeper issue, such as a mental health condition. Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can cause a wide range of symptoms, from feelings of sadness and hopelessness to physical symptoms like fatigue and headaches.

If you are experiencing persistent symptoms, seeking support from a professional psychologist who can help you identify what’s happening and develop a treatment plan is essential.

Experiencing Physical Illness

Lastly, it is important to remember that physical illness can also contribute to feelings of not being quite right. You may be experiencing physical illness if your thoughts are like: “what is wrong with me physically?” or “what is wrong with me?”

Chronic pain, fatigue, and other symptoms can majorly impact your mood and overall well-being. Therefore, if you think these physical symptoms are affecting your daily life, you should seek medical attention to identify the underlying cause of your issues.

How to Cope: 10 Ways to Feel Better

1. Relaxation Techniques

Asking yourself “what is wrong with me?” is not uncommon. When you are in this state of mind, the best thing to do is to find ways to calm down and relax. Developing a list of “calm down activities” can be an effective way to cope with these emotions.

Here are some ideas that you can add to your list of calm-down activities:

  • Deep breathing exercises: Slowly inhaling and exhaling can help regulate your heartbeat and reduce feelings of anxiety.

  • Meditation: Sitting in a quiet, peaceful place and focusing your thoughts can help clear your mind and bring a sense of calm.

  • Yoga: Practising yoga can help relieve stress and promote relaxation through a series of poses and breathing techniques.

  • Taking a walk: Going for a walk outside, especially in nature, can help clear your mind and reduce feelings of anxiety.

  • Listening to music: Calming music can help soothe your nerves and improve your mood.

  • Taking a warm bath: A warm bath can help relax your muscles and soothe your mind.

  • Writing in a journal: Writing down your thoughts and emotions can help you work through them and gain a new perspective.

  • Practising self-care: Doing things that make you feel good, such as taking a bubble bath, watching a movie, or treating yourself to your favourite snack, can be a great way to boost your mood and feel better.

By incorporating these activities into your daily routine, you can develop a sense of calm and balance, even when you feel like something is wrong with you.

If thoughts such as "what is wrong with me" consistently plague you, you may want to use some relaxation techniques to destress.

2. Create an Action Plan

When feelings like “what is wrong with me?” start to take over, creating an action plan can help cope with them. This involves identifying specific problems and outlining steps that you can take to address them. You may have read about various coping strategies, such as grounding or making a gratitude list. While these tips are beneficial, you may struggle to carry them out.

After all, they require you to identify your needs at the moment and to find the motivation to act on them. Creating an action plan could be an effective way to cope with mental health problems. This is because an action plan involves you to:

  • be clear about your current state and the potential problem;

  • create a realistic plan of action to tackle the problem; and

  • follow through with the plan.

To create an action plan, consider the following steps:

  1. Seek help from a professional psychotherapist.

  2. Identify areas of your life that need improvement. These include finding a better job, improving relationships, or developing new hobbies.

  3. Set realistic goals and break them down into actionable steps.

  4. Read self-help books or online resources relevant to your goals.

  5. Find an accountability partner to help keep you motivated and on track.

By taking these steps, you can create a clear plan of action that will help you to move forward and overcome negative thoughts and emotions.

3. Observe Your Body

Do you often think, “what is wrong with me physically?” This may indicate that you might be suffering from a physical illness.

It can be helpful to observe your body to avoid a negative spiral. When you are more aware of the feelings and sensations your body experiences, you will be better able to take action to improve your mood and outlook. 

Here are some things you can do to address specific feelings:

  • Brain fog: Make a to-do list or plan of action to get everything out of your head and onto paper.

  • Feelings of tiredness: Establish a consistent sleep schedule and ensure you are getting enough sleep.

  • Inability to sit still: Exercise or try going for a walk.

  • Pain: Identify the issue and seek appropriate solutions. For example, if you have back pain, you could consult a physical therapist to help identify the root cause of the pain and develop a treatment plan. The physical therapist may recommend specific exercises, stretches, or other treatments to alleviate the pain and prevent it from recurring.

4. Nothing Works Out for Me

We all have thoughts, all the time, about everything. Some thoughts are about other people, and some are about ourselves. We might think of nice things and not-so-nice things. Ideas are like the bubbles in a fizzy drink – we have them all the time, and are part of life. It is normal!

Being aware of our thoughts gives us the option to decide whether to act on them. For instance, if we realise that we are thinking negatively about our friend, such as “my friend doesn’t like me,” we can choose to dwell on it and feel upset, or we can attempt to disprove the thought and disregard it.

Your thoughts are not a reflection of your identity. They may appear in your mind even when you are not consciously thinking about them; some can even be harmful. Therefore, acting on negative thoughts can lead to negative consequences. The aim is to distinguish your thoughts from your behaviours.

5. Practise Self-Care

Self-care involves caring for your physical, mental, and emotional needs, and there are many ways to practise it. 

For example, practising self-care can help you eliminate thoughts like, “what is wrong with me?”

  • Practise mindfulness: Mindfulness can help you focus on the present moment and become aware of your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Try meditating, doing yoga, or simply taking a few deep breaths.

  • Get enough sleep: Sleep is essential for your mental health, and getting enough sleep can improve your mood and help you feel more energised. So, try to establish a regular sleep schedule and create a relaxing bedtime routine.

  • Eat a healthy diet: Focus on eating nutrient-dense foods and avoid processed or sugary foods that can cause mood swings.

  • Exercise regularly: Exercise releases endorphins that can improve your mood and reduce stress.

  • Connect with others: Spending time with people who support and care about you can help you feel more connected and reduce feelings of isolation. Reach out to friends, family, or a support group to help you feel more connected.

6. Anxiety Coping Mechanisms

Anxiety can be a challenging emotion to cope with, but some coping mechanisms can be helpful. 

Here are a few ways to manage anxiety when you feel like something is wrong with you:

  • Deep breathing: Take a deep breath in for a count of four, hold it for a count of four, and then slowly release it for a count of four. Repeat this exercise several times to calm yourself.

  • Positive self-talk: Challenge negative self-talk and replace it with positive statements. For example, instead of saying, “I’m not good enough,” say, “I am capable and strong.”

  • Avoiding triggers: Identify what triggers your anxiety and avoid them when possible. For example, if you feel anxious in crowds, try to avoid crowded places.

7. Depression Coping Mechanisms

Depression can be challenging to manage, and it can be difficult to know what to do when you are feeling down. However, it’s important to remember that depression is a treatable condition, and many coping mechanisms can help you manage your symptoms.

One crucial coping mechanism for depression is to engage in regular physical activity. Exercise has been shown to release endorphins, which can help to elevate mood and reduce feelings of depression. Even a short walk or a few minutes of stretching can be beneficial.

Talking to an international or Singaporean psychologist at TYHO can also be an effective way to cope with depression. A therapist can help you identify the underlying causes of your depression and provide you with tools and strategies to manage your symptoms.

Self-care is not always about grand gestures. Sometimes it is about those little things you can do to make yourself feel good anytime, anywhere.

8. Get an Outside Perspective

When your thoughts sound like “what is wrong with me?” or “why do I get irritated and angry so easily?” it can be helpful to seek an outside perspective. Occasionally, we can get so caught up in our thoughts and feelings that it’s difficult to see things clearly. A mental health professional, such as a therapist, can help you gain a better understanding of what’s going on inside you and help you develop strategies to cope with these feelings.

A therapist can provide an objective perspective and help you recognise behaviours that may not serve you best (eg maladaptive behaviours). They can help you identify which behaviours are productive, helpful, and serving you in your life and which ones are not. This can be especially helpful when you feel like you cannot cope with your thoughts and feelings alone.

Therapy can also help you embrace your difficult thoughts and emotions. After all, being surrounded by people who are different can make us feel like we are abnormal or that something is wrong with us. But a therapist can help you appreciate your differences and the differences in others, which can be empowering.

9. Change One Thing About Yourself

If you feel like something is wrong with you, it might be time to make a change. From time to time, the thought of changing everything about ourselves can be overwhelming, but focusing on changing just one thing can have a significant impact. Take time to reflect on your behaviours and identify one thing you want to change. This could be something like being kinder to others, improving your mental health, or developing a healthier habit.

Once you have identified the behaviour you want to change, make a deliberate effort to improve it. For example, if you want to be kinder to others, you could start by doing small acts of kindness to people you meet daily. If you want to improve your mental health, you could start by seeking help from a psychotherapist or finding healthy ways to release negative emotions, such as through exercise or journaling.

The key is to make small, achievable changes that will positively impact your life. By changing one thing about yourself, you may find that other areas of your life also start to improve. Remember, change is a process that takes time and effort, but with commitment and patience, you can make positive changes and move towards a happier, healthier you!

10. Spend Time With Your Loves Ones

Spending time with the people you love can be an incredibly powerful tool in helping to combat feelings of insecurity and self-doubt. Connecting with your loved ones can provide comfort, safety, and security, making it easier to cope with difficult emotions. In addition, it is a great way to gain support and understanding from those closest to you and allows you to focus on something other than your worries and anxieties.

Spending time with loved ones can help remind us that we are not alone in our struggles and that there are people out there who care about us deeply. But, of course, not every person you spend time with is a good fit. Spending time with people who cannot validate your feelings or help to provide support can actually be harmful. If they invalidate or belittle your emotions, it may be best to avoid them until you feel more prepared and able to cope with their lack of support.

If you can’t talk to your friends, loved ones, or even those who work in stores and restaurants, find a community that speaks to your spirituality. There are many online communities for people looking for emotional or psychological support. You might also want to consider talking with a therapist about how you can begin reconnecting with other people again.


So, the main question is: What is wrong with me? Unfortunately, imperfections exist in every human being in this world. People sometimes strive to do their best but still come up short. Other times, difficult situations can lead them astray. However, when we question what is wrong with us, it’s an opportunity to improve ourselves.

When you ask a challenging question like this, it shows that you are finally ready to make changes to create a better, wiser, and more resilient version of yourself.

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Welcome to the beautiful world of self-exploration! Masturbation is a topic that’s been around for centuries but still seems to have a bit of stigma attached to it. But let’s be real – it is a natural and normal part of our sexual health and wellbeing. If you have ever asked yourself questions like, “how to stop masturbating?” or “is masturbation harmful?” or “how to stop a masturbating addiction?” then this article is for you.

We will be diving into all things masturbation. From the causes, myths, and negative effects of masturbation to how to overcome an addiction to it, you will find all the information here. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of this often-misunderstood practice and, hopefully, have some of your questions answered.

What Is Masturbation?

Masturbation is a sexual activity that involves stimulating one’s own body, specifically the genitals, for pleasure and to release sexual tension. It may or may not always lead to an orgasm. An orgasm, also called “climaxing,” is a sexual build-up that can lead to people having an intense and enjoyable release of sexual pleasure. During this practice, the heartbeat increases, blood pressure rises and becomes heavier, and muscle contractions occur throughout the body.

Have you heard of this old masturbation joke? “80% of people do it, and the rest, 20%, are just lying about it.” Of course, this isn’t a real statistic, and sexual practices depend on individual preferences (for example, asexuality is a sexual orientation where people experience no or less sexual attraction). However, masturbation is normal and common, and people of all ages and genders masturbate.

There are many different types of masturbation, and what works best for one person may not work for another. Some common forms of masturbation include manual stimulation with the hands, using sex toys, and even non-penetrative stimulation like humping a pillow. Many people think that masturbation is a solo act, but that’s untrue. Regardless of the relationship status, people masturbate alone, with their consenting partner, or even with multiple partners.

It is important to remember that everyone has different preferences and boundaries when it comes to sexual activities, including masturbation. Some people prefer to masturbate only once a day, some do it multiple times, and some never engage in it – and all of it is totally okay! As long as the practice is safe and consensual, feel free to explore and find what works for you.

Benefits of Masturbation

Masturbation can be a fun and enjoyable activity that can benefit your overall health. Here are a few key advantages of self-pleasure:

  • Stress relief: Masturbating can relieve stress and tension and provide both physical and mental relaxation. It can help you calm down, release endorphins, and even improve your mood and avoid feeling emotional.

  • Improved sleep: Do you ever find yourself sleeping well after engaging in self-pleasure? As a matter of fact, the sexual release that comes from masturbation can help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.

  • Pain relief: For some people, masturbation can provide relief from menstrual cramps, headaches, or other types of body pain. The release of endorphins can help eliminate or reduce discomfort and promote relaxation.
  • Increased sexual function: Masturbation makes it easier to achieve and maintain an erection, sexual mood, or to reach orgasm. This can also be especially helpful for people who struggle with erectile dysfunction.

  • Better understanding of your body: Masturbating can help you better understand your sexual preferences, needs, and what feels good for you. This can be incredibly helpful in improving your relationships with your partners and yourself.

Myths About Masturbation

Let’s debunk some of the myths about masturbation! They may be the reason why people hold negative perceptions of masturbation and want to know how to stop masturbating.

Myth 1: Masturbation causes physical harm, such as blindness or infertility. 

Truth: No scientific evidence supports the idea that masturbation causes physical harm. In fact, research has shown that regular sexual activity can have positive effects on our physical and mental health. For instance, they help reduce stress and improve sleep quality and duration. 

Myth 2: If you masturbate too much, you will run out of sperm.

Truth: The penis releases a white, sticky fluid during ejaculation, known as sperm. During sexual intercourse, the most potent sperm enters the fallopian tubes and into the egg – after which conception occurs. Therefore, a person will not run out of sperms, and ejaculation usually contains hundreds of millions of sperms.

Myth 3: Masturbation is a sign of sexual addiction.

Truth: Masturbation is not inherently problematic or addictive. However, like any sexual activity, it can become a concern if it interferes with an individual’s daily life or becomes a compulsive behaviour. It may be helpful to speak with a mental health professional if you want to know how to stop a masturbating addiction.

Negative Effects of Masturbation

Is masturbation harmful?

It is generally considered a safe and harmless activity. However, in some cases, individuals may experience temporary discomfort, such as skin chafing or tenderness. In addition, men who engage in frequent masturbation within a short period of time may experience a minor swelling of the penis – known as oedema. First, let us take a closer look at some other negative effects of masturbation.


For some people, masturbation may be associated with feelings of guilt or shame, often due to cultural or religious beliefs. Masturbation is neither wrong nor immoral and entirely depends on a subjective perspective.

Nevertheless, speaking with someone you trust may be beneficial if these feelings persist for a long time. In addition, mental health professionals who have specialisation in sexual health may be an ideal resource to help you with overcoming feelings of shame associated with masturbation.


Some people can develop an addiction to masturbation, also known as sex addiction. Even though the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) doesn’t recognise it as a disorder, it can still cause concerning side effects. Hence, clinicians can use the DSM-5 (as “other specified sexual dysfunction”) and the ICD-10 criteria to diagnose sex addiction.

If you find that masturbation is causing you to:

  • neglect daily tasks or activities;

  • miss work or school;

  • cancel plans with loved ones; and
  • miss important social events,

it may be a sign that you are engaging in excessive masturbation, which could harm your relationships or other aspects of your life. This overindulgence in self-pleasure can lead to decreased attention span and may even hurt your romantic and platonic connections. The next couple of sections delves into how to stop masturbating compulsively.

How to stop masturbating compulsively is a question many may have.

How to Stop a Masturbating Addiction? 

Masturbating can become an addiction for some people. If you notice that engaging in masturbation is negatively impacting your daily life, you may want to consider cutting back or quitting masturbation altogether.

In this section, we will take a closer look at what constitutes a healthy level of masturbation and explore the differences between male and female masturbation. Additionally, we will also address some common concerns, such as how to stop yourself from masturbating and whether female masturbation can cause hormonal imbalances.

What Is a Healthy Level of Masturbation?

When it comes to masturbation, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for what constitutes a healthy level. While you are free to come up with an individualised level, the International Society for Sexual Medicine notes that a “normal” frequency for masturbation does not exist. 

A 2017 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour looked at the habits of over 15,000 men and women between the ages of 18 to 60. The results showed a difference in the way men and women view masturbation in relation to their sexual satisfaction. Women tended to pleasure themselves more when they were sexually happy and had sex frequently. On the other hand, men masturbated more when they were having less sex. 

This shows that how much someone masturbates is totally up to them. If you are feeling good about your masturbating habits and it is not negatively affecting your life in any way, then anything goes! It is also worth noting that everyone’s sexual needs are different. Some people might need more sexual release than others, which is totally okay!

Is There a Difference Between Male and Female Masturbation?

There are more similarities than differences between male and female masturbation. That is because physical activity might differ between individuals, but the underlying motivations and benefits can be pretty similar.

For example, people of all genders use masturbation as a way to relieve sexual tension, explore their bodies, or simply experience pleasure. However, some may prefer to use visual aids during practice, while others may be more likely to incorporate fantasy or sexual thoughts.

A lot of people think that only men masturbate. Undoubtedly, that is just not true! Contrary to popular belief, gender and sexual orientation can also impact one’s experience with masturbation. For example, people who identify as LGBTQ+ may have completely different experiences when it comes to masturbation or sexual activities. It can also serve as a potential tool for exploring one’s queerness.

Does Female Masturbation Cause Hormonal Imbalance?

Masturbation does affect the hormones, just not in any way one should fret about. The hormonal changes caused by masturbation are minimal. In fact, as we covered in the section above, it also has all sorts of benefits. Orgasming releases dopamine (pleasure chemical), oxytocin (bonding chemical), and serotonin.

Several studies also showed that sexual arousal could often lead to a change in prolactin levels. Prolactin is a hormone that stimulates the growth of the breasts and helps with milk production.

While we know for sure that masturbation does not cause hormonal imbalance, there has been little research into the long-term relationship between masturbation and hormone levels.

How to Stop Masturbating Forever and Permanently?

Struggling with a masturbation addiction can be tough, but it is not impossible to overcome. If you are looking for answers on how to stop masturbating, here are some tips that might help:

Reduce your intake of pornography

Many individuals turn to porn as a source of sexual stimulation, but this can be a slippery slope towards addiction. People who want to quit limit their exposure to porn and find other exciting ways to enjoy themselves.

Do something new

Sometimes, doing something new and exciting can help you break away from old habits. For example, it might help you to find a new hobby, take a class, or travel somewhere you’ve never been before. The idea is to replace the action of masturbation with something that’s equally (or even more!) stimulating.

Consult a professional

If you are having trouble quitting on your own, consider reaching out to a doctor or an international or professional Singaporean counsellor. Counsellors specialising in sexual health can help you understand the root of your addiction. They will also guide you in developing a plan to overcome it. 


Spending time with others can help you feel more connected and fulfilled. It can also distract you from the urge to masturbate. Try to host or plan events and activities with friends, family, or your partner.


Regular exercise is a proven method to boost mood, reduce stress, and increase self-esteem. All these added benefits can help you overcome your addiction to masturbation. The first step would be to find a physical activity you enjoy and eventually make it a part of your daily routine.

Remember, it takes time and effort to stop a masturbating addiction. Don’t be too hard on yourself; with the right support, you can overcome your difficulties and live a happier life!

How Long Does It Take to Stop Masturbating? 

The amount of time it takes to stop masturbation varies from person to person, depending on several factors, such as individual habits and lifestyle. Yet, it’s important to remember that giving up a long-standing practice can be overwhelming and may require patience and persistence.

For some people, reducing or stopping masturbation may happen relatively quickly, within a matter of days or weeks. For others, it may take months or even longer. During this process, you will find it the most helpful to be kind to yourself and recognise that progress matters more than perfection.


In conclusion, we hope that this article provides you with an insight into what masturbation is. If you’re struggling with a masturbation addiction, you are not alone, and help is always just one click or call away. Our Therapists at Talk Your Heart Out (TYHO) offer a supportive and non-judgement space where you can get all the help you need.

After all, masturbation is sexual exploration. By speaking with a therapist, you may even learn ideas and practices that may align with your needs!

Sex toys can enhance the experience of self-pleasure and masturbation, providing additional stimulation and opening up new avenues of exploration and pleasure.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is masturbation safe? 

Yes, masturbation is safe and healthy for most people. Although there may be a cultural or religious stigma attached to it, it is often a safe and pleasurable way to explore one’s sexuality. Masturbation can have physical and emotional benefits, such as reducing stress and improving sleep. However, as with any activity, it is important to practise it in moderation. If you have any concerns about the safety of masturbation, it might help to start with individual therapy. On the other hand, couples therapy can help if you want to explore sexual pleasure with a partner.

Can you hurt yourself by masturbating too much?

It is highly unlikely to hurt yourself by masturbating too much as long as you’re not using any tools or objects that could cause physical harm. That being said, excessive masturbation can cause temporary soreness or chafing of the genital area, which usually goes away after a few days. Remember to practise good hygiene to prevent infection, especially when using your hands or sex toys during masturbation.

How to stop yourself from masturbating? 

Stopping yourself from masturbating can be challenging, but it is possible. One of the first steps to breaking the habit is acknowledging that you might have a problem and identifying your triggers. Then, try to replace your habit of masturbating with new activities like exercising, reading, or meditating.

Seek support from friends, family, or a professional therapist who can help you stay accountable and offer you guidance. Avoid pornography or other sexual triggers that might increase your urge to masturbate. Be patient and kind to yourself, and do not forget to celebrate small victories along the way!

Is masturbation ever good for a relationship?

Engaging in masturbation can positively affect a couple’s sex life when approached with honesty and respect. It can lead to a more profound sense of intimacy between partners and even help bridge the gap when couples have different desired levels of sexual frequency.

If one partner is not ready for sexual activity, masturbation can be a healthy alternative that can relieve the pressure and ensure both individuals feel comfortable and satisfied. Overall, masturbation can be a perfectly healthy and normal part of a relationship as long as both partners communicate and are open to the idea.

Should parents be concerned about their children masturbating? 

Many parents may feel concerned or worried about their children masturbating, but it’s necessary to understand that masturbation is a normal part of human sexuality. It is common for children to begin exploring their bodies and experiencing sexual feelings during puberty. Parents can have an open conversation with their children about sexual health and consent to ensure they have access to the correct information and resources.

What are some masturbating tips? 

If you’re new to masturbating, it can help to take things slow and experiment with different techniques to figure out what feels good for you. For example, some prefer direct clitoral stimulation, while others prefer penetration. Applying some lubricator to your hands or sex toys (depending on what you use) can also enhance the experience.

Some helpful things you can do include:

  • Washing your hands thoroughly before touching your genitals or body.

  • Using a quality lubricant, as it can lower friction and make things more comfortable.

  • Cleaning your sex toys before and after use. Bacteria can build up on these toys and can cause infection later on. To avoid that, read the instructions on the product to clean it the right way.

Try not to share your sex toys with multiple partners without cleaning or using a new condom every time. Unclean sex toys can pass along STDs and infections. Having an open conversation with your partners about maintaining your sex toy can be a helpful way to prevent any diseases.

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Maladaptive behaviours refer to actions or habits that cause harmful consequences in an individual’s daily life. These actions interfere with their ability to adapt and adjust to specific challenges and stressors. Identifying maladaptive behaviour is crucial as it can significantly impact one’s mental and emotional wellbeing.

It can manifest in various forms – addiction, eating disorder, and self-harm. However, early detection and understanding can also help prevent adverse outcomes and boost self-awareness and good health. In this article, we talk about maladaptive behaviour examples, delve deeper into the root causes, and discuss how to identify if you have maladaptive behaviour.

What is Maladaptive Behaviour?

Have you ever noticed how we sometimes react differently to challenges in life? When we respond positively to situations, it’s called adaptive behaviour. But when we react negatively, it’s called maladaptive behaviour. Adaptive behaviour is when we choose to find a solution or try to minimise a problem.

It could mean doing something you do not necessarily like or finding an alternative way to get the job done. It is all about adjusting to the situation and making the most of it. For example, a reader who is losing their eyesight could choose to learn Braille or switch to audiobooks so they can still enjoy their books.

On the other hand, maladaptive behaviour is when we ignore a problem or do not take any action to solve it. It is like avoiding the issue and letting it control us instead of us controlling it. For instance, the same reader who finds it difficult to acknowledge their vision loss or is unwilling to adopt might feel out of control and avoid taking any action. They end up missing out on their beloved books.

The Consequence of Maladaptive Coping

Ultimately, maladaptive behaviours prevent you from dealing with the root cause of your anxiety. We often tend to resort to dysfunctional coping mechanisms to deal with distressing emotions. While it might feel like these strategies are effective at the moment, the truth is that they only act as a temporary fix. Over time, they can actually make things worse and create complex problems.

So, what do you think? Are you an adaptive or maladaptive person? If you are the latter, how do you deal with maladaptive behaviour? To better understand the causes, let’s dive into this topic further!

The Causes of Maladaptive Behaviour

There are several underlying causes of maladaptive behaviour. It is important to note that while these factors may contribute to its development, they are not determining factors. Many individuals who experience these challenges do not engage in maladaptive behaviours.

The role of trauma

Trauma can play a significant role in the development of maladaptive behaviour. Trauma is a deeply distressing experience. It can occur through a single event, such as a car accident or natural disaster, or a series of events, such as childhood abuse or neglect. Survivors of a traumatic event may experience feelings of helplessness, anxiety, and depression, which can lead to the development of harmful coping mechanisms. They may use avoidance, self-blame, or substance abuse to manage the distress that comes with the trauma.

Unfortunately, some of these coping strategies can develop into maladaptive behaviours that continue long after the traumatic event is over. For example, someone with sexual trauma may turn to self-harm to suppress their feelings of shame, guilt, or negative thoughts.

Research shows that childhood sexual abuse is associated with self-harm, substance abuse, and unsafe sexual habits. It is also linked to psychopathology, especially major depressive disorder (MDD), and high-risk behaviours. Additionally, the severity and frequency of the traumatic event can also influence the development of maladaptive behaviour.

Mental health disorders 

Conditions such as anxiety, personality disorders, depression, and developmental disorders can lead to maladaptive behaviours. These disorders can alter how a person perceives and reacts to stressful situations. This pattern pushes them to adopt a coping mechanism that may become harmful over time. Anxiety disorders, for example, can cause excessive worry, fear, and nervousness, which can lead to behaviours such as avoidance or addiction.

Personality disorders can also contribute to maladaptive behaviours by triggering distorted thinking patterns, difficulty maintaining relationships, and impulsiveness. People with avoidant personality disorder (AVPD) and borderline personality disorder (BPD) often display maladaptive behaviours.

People with AVPD tend to have an intense fear of rejection and criticism, which leads them to avoid nurturing close relationships and social situations. This avoidance can manifest as maladaptive behaviours, such as isolating oneself from friends and family or avoiding events that might put them in the spotlight.

Similarly, people with BPD tend to struggle with regulating their emotions and maintaining stable relationships. This leads them to engage in impulsive and erratic behaviours. Some of these habits include self-harm, binge eating, binge drinking, becoming involved in unhealthy relationships, and participating in risky behaviours. Both AVPD and BPD can cause significant distress and interfere with daily functioning. People with these mental health conditions often require professional help to manage their symptoms. For instance, TYHO psychologists in Singapore can help those struggling with the above mentioned conditions. 

Environmental factors

Environmental factors play a great role in the development of maladaptive behaviours. These factors include the setting in which a person grew up, family dynamics, relationships, and cultural influences. Mainly, toxic environments where neglect or abuse exists, or poverty can increase harmful coping mechanisms. Let’s take a closer look at these factors separately.

Family dynamics can impact an individual’s development and trigger them to indulge in destructive behaviours. For example, family members who engage in harmful behaviours like substance abuse or domestic violence may directly influence the child to learn their ways of coping with difficult situations. Furthermore, the lack of family support, overprotection, and unrealistic expectations can lead to feelings of stress and low self-esteem.

Relationships with others also play a role in leading to maladaptive behaviours. Toxic or abusive relationships and lack of social support can lead to psychological distress and feelings of unworthiness. Similarly, cultural expectations and societal stigma around mental health can lead individuals to internalise their symptoms. This further exacerbates maladaptive behaviours.

Besides, daily stressors like financial difficulties, job loss, and relationship issues can cause chronic stress. This stress shows up in the form of running away from responsibilities, avoiding social interactions, and filtering all the positives from life. These environmental factors can interact with one another or with other elements like genetics or neurological conditions.

Any alternations to one’s brain functioning may give rise to the development of maladaptive behaviours.

Neurological factors 

The brain’s functioning can affect our emotions, thoughts, and actions. In fact, any alterations in the brain can cause difficulties in adapting to situations and challenges. Research suggests that these neurological differences may also play a role in developing maladaptive behaviour. In particular, brain chemistry is a crucial factor that gives rise to such engagement.

The levels of neurotransmitters can impact various aspects of the human mind. Some of these chemicals include serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Imbalances of these chemicals in the brain can lead to difficulties regulating emotions, drastic mood swings, erratic behaviours, and issues with controlling impulses.

Research shows that some regions of the brain, such as the prefrontal cortex, are involved in regulating emotions, impulse controls, and decision-making. Suppose an issue arises with the brain’s development, structure, or functioning, it can increase the risk of developing maladaptive behaviour.

In some cases, traumatic brain injury can result in changes in brain chemistry and structure, thereby impacting mood and behaviour. For example, individuals with brain injury may exhibit impulsive behaviour, face difficulties with identifying and regulating emotions, and have an impaired sense of judgement.


Research has also found a hereditary component to some types of maladaptive behaviours. Genetics can contribute to an individual’s vulnerability to specific mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders.

Studies have identified specific genes linked to the development of mental health conditions and maladaptive behaviours. For instance, research shows that the serotonin transporter gene plays a role in developing anxiety and depression. Impulsivity and risk-taking behaviours are habits that occur due to other genes.

In addition to specific genes, family history also plays a significant role. Children who have a parent with a history of maladaptive behaviours are at a higher risk of developing similar patterns of behaviour. This may be due to a complex combination of genetic and environmental factors. Ultimately, a complex interplay of various factors shapes an individual’s behaviour.

Maladaptive Behaviour Examples


Also known as self-injury, self-harm is where an individual intentionally causes physical harm to their own body. Self-harm as a maladaptive behaviour can take many forms, including cutting, burning, biting, or hitting themselves. Severe physical and mental health consequences result from this type of behaviour; hence it is maladaptive. People who self-harm often use it as a way to release their pent-up emotional energy or to punish themselves for perceived mistakes. 

Self-harm is not the same as suicide, although the behaviour can increase the risk of suicidal ideations. In fact, a study also found that individuals who self-harm use avoidance as a coping mechanism. They hurt themselves secretly, making it difficult for loved ones to understand what’s happening. They may hide their scars and bruises, and some may not even realise that their behaviour is harmful.

While it may provide a temporary distraction, self-harm can quickly become a harmful and addictive behaviour that is difficult to break.

The consequences of self-harm include:

  • Physical health problems: Self-harm can result in physical injuries, infections, and scarring.

  • Mental health problems: Self-harm can worsen existing mental health conditions and lead to new ones, such as depression, anxiety, and panic disorders.

  • Stigma and shame: Individuals who self-harm may feel shame or embarrassment about their behaviour. These feelings force them to socially isolate themselves and lead to a breakdown in their relationships.
  • Difficulty stopping: Self-harm can be difficult to control, as they may feel addicted to the relief it provides. 

If you or someone you know is hurting themselves, it is crucial to reach out for help. This can include talking to a trusted friend or family member, seeing a professional therapist, or reaching out to a crisis helpline.

Eating disorders

Eating disorders are a form of maladaptive behaviour that can have severe and long-lasting effects on a person’s physical and mental health. They transpire when someone has abnormal eating habits like overeating, getting rid of the food they’ve eaten, or only eating very little. Eating disorders can develop due to a desire to be thin, societal pressure to conform to a particular body type or underlying mental health conditions.

Individuals with eating disorders suffer from low self-esteem, perfectionism, and a negative body image. They may also have a history of childhood trauma, abuse, or neglect. The most common eating disorders among teenagers and young adults are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and binge eating disorder. Usually, all these disorders involve abnormal eating patterns and unhealthy relationships with food.

Eating disorders can quickly spiral out of control, leading to severe physical and emotional consequences. These include malnutrition, electrolyte imbalances, depression, anxiety, cardiovascular issues, and suicide. Individuals suffering from eating disorders may require professional help and support to rekindle a healthy relationship with food and their bodies.

Substance abuse 

Substance abuse is a form of maladaptive behaviour. It refers to the excessive or repeated use of drugs or alcohol to cope, despite its negative consequences. It often starts as a way for individuals to cope with stress, anxiety, or other emotional difficulties. However, it can quickly become a full-blown addiction. Over time, individuals become dependent on the substance to regulate their mood, leading to a destructive pattern of use.

Substance abuse can take many forms, including excessive drinking, drug abuse, and even over-the-counter medication abuse. The negative impact of substance abuse can be far-reaching. It causes damage to the brain and body, increases the risk of accidents and injuries, and affects relationships, work, and personal life. It is also associated with several mental health conditions like depression and bipolar disorder.

Treating substance abuse requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses both the addiction and the underlying emotional issues. Effective treatment includes therapy, support groups, and medication-assisted treatment. Professional psychotherapists at TYHO can help individuals regain control over their substance abuse and develop healthy coping skills. With the right help, it is possible for individuals to overcome their addiction and build a happier and healthier life.

How Do You Know if You Have Maladaptive Behaviour?

Recognising the signs of maladaptive behaviour is the first step in seeking help. If you find yourself engaging in behaviours that interfere with your daily life or the lives of those around you, it may be time to seek professional help.

Some common signs include:

  • engaging in self-sabotaging behaviours;

  • having an unhealthy relationship with food;

  • addiction to drugs, alcohol, or other substances;
  • sexual dysfunctions or compulsions;

  • fantasy-prone behaviour, such as daydreaming excessively;

  • impulsive or irrational behaviour;
  • difficulty managing and regulating emotions; and

  • withdrawing from friends and family.

It can be hard to acknowledge that your behaviour may be maladaptive, but seeking help is an essential step towards healing and recovery. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and notice changes in your eating habits, it’s a good idea to reach out for help. A mental health professional, like a counsellor or psychologist, can help you understand your habits and thought patterns, and guide you as you develop the tools you need to cope with them healthily.

How Do You Deal with Maladaptive Behaviours?

Breaking the cycle of maladaptive behaviours may not be an easy feat, especially if they have become habitual over time. When it comes to dealing with life’s challenges, it’s helpful to find healthy ways to manage stress and negative emotions.

Healthy Coping Mechanisms

Here are some alternative strategies that you can try out and see what works best for you: 

An alternative to engaging in maladaptive behaviour would be working out physically.


Physical activity can be a great way to relieve stress and boost your mood. Whether it’s going for a run or playing a sport, find something you enjoy. The key is to make it a part of your daily routine.


Practising mindfulness can help you be more present and aware of the moment. People often do this to reduce stress and improve their overall wellbeing. Another fun way to approach mindfulness is to involve your friend or partner in it! Meditating, journaling, or simply taking deep breaths with a loved one can be incredibly peaceful.

Connecting with others

Social support is also a key to taking care of our mental health. Try spending time with friends and family, signing up for a club, or volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about. It is always so much fun to explore our unique needs and interests.

Hobbies and interests

People often take up various hobbies to relieve stress and bring back joy into their lives. It doesn’t have to be anything huge; something as simple as collecting rocks or reading books can uplift your mood.

Mind-body therapies

With guided therapies like yoga, tai chi, and acupuncture, you may feel deeply relaxed. It is also a great way to incorporate physical movement every day.

Remember, what works for one individual may not always work for another. The idea is to find healthy ways to cope with challenges and take care of your emotional wellbeing. Keep trying different things until you figure out what helps you the best!


In conclusion, maladaptive behaviours can drastically impact one’s life and the lives of people around them. However, with the proper support and treatment, individuals can overcome these behaviours and lead fulfilling lives.

Online therapy has become a popular option for those seeking help for maladaptive behaviour. The convenience and privacy of receiving treatment from the comfort of one’s home have made it easier for individuals to seek help and overcome challenges. Furthermore, online therapy in Singapore and all over the world is also accessible for those who live in remote areas or have limited access to traditional therapy services.

Don’t be afraid to seek help; a support system is available for you right here. Seeking help is a courageous step towards recovery and a brighter future.

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