Dangers of Self-Diagnosis for Mental Health
By James Daily
Mental health issues have become a topic that many people like to talk about in our day and time and mental health awareness has gained a lot of ground within the last decade. On one hand, this has really helped a lot of people open up about their issues and talk about everything that bothers them. This has created a handful of online communities which provide them with support and a place where they can talk without being judged.
On the other hand, though, this has given a lot of room for non-professionals to make speculations and diagnose people without actually having solid knowledge on the topic of mental health. Even those suffering from any sort of symptoms can now go online and try and find an answer to their problems.
Mental illness over the years
In the past, mental health used to be more of a taboo subject. People who suffered from any sort of mental health issues would be discriminated heavily and looked down upon by others. Those with any sort of issue were perceived as crazy or troubled individuals who should be avoided as they could even be dangerous.
In our time and day, social media influencers and famous people from all over the world have shared their stories and spoken out about their own struggles with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and many other similar conditions. This has given many people from all over the world the opportunity and the courage to face their problems and talk about them openly.
As a result, many online forums and medical pages came to exist. For the most part, the information found on various pages is legitimate and will help those who go through something similar find some closure. Online forums have shown that in many cases, people well educated in these fields will often create posts on such platforms.
Up until a few years ago, people affected by mental health issues would end up never even getting a diagnosis out of fear of being judged. “Even something as simple as going to a psychologist was considered something bad or unnecessary in many countries and societies for many years. Thanks to the internet and social media, this situation has changed and improved,” shares Amanda Sparks, a Huffington Post contributor.
Can online self-diagnosis be helpful?
For those suffering from mental health issues, online self-diagnosis can help them identify their symptoms and learn more about any potential condition they might have. The best thing about this new situation is that while in the past most people didn’t really have a way to look up their symptoms and get any sort of answer, they now have a way of gathering some information on it.
Whether that information is legitimate and helpful or not, it can provide many with a reason to visit a therapist and get a definite answer for their diagnosis. Therapy will not only help these people improve the quality of their lives, but it also helps normalize mental health issues and makes them a part of many people’s everyday lives.
The more people educate themselves about mental health issues, the more people will be able to have access to treatment. “In many cases, online sources can provide you with a way to speak to an online therapist. In most situations, the person wouldn’t have reached that point if it wasn’t for their self-diagnosis of their problem,” states Carolina Mac.
Self-diagnosis can be helpful if the person involved is not so emotionally distressed that they can’t understand when something they read is not accurate or trustworthy. On the other hand, it can help this person learn a lot more about a potential problem they have and start to understand how to better cope with it.
The dangers of self-diagnosis
On the other end of the scale, self-diagnosis can be harmful to a sufferer of a mental health issue for quite a few different reasons. While learning more about these issues can be helpful when it comes to better understanding yours, it is always important to keep in mind that the only person that can make a solid and trustworthy diagnosis is a medical professional.
A big problem that might arise from this situation is for the person to believe that there are more things wrong with them than there actually are. Many medical pages, will often list more symptoms to an issue than just the most common ones. In the case of a person with a mental health issue reading it, it is likely that they will start believing they have more symptoms than they actually do.
Another very common problem associated with online self-diagnosis is that many of these people will think they found the answer to their problem and that they don’t really need therapy. This is a very wrong approach and it can really affect the person’s quality of life. Therapy is one of the most helpful things when it comes to battling with a mental health issue and it can help strengthen and educate the person on their problem.
Last but not least, another very common and serious problem is that of self-medication. “While this might surprise you, there are plenty of online forums where people with little to no experience will start suggesting medications to people with problems. Not only can these people not be meaning well but they can really be harmful to those who follow their advice,” warns Monica Dunlap, an editor in chief at Top Australia Writers.
Whether someone claims they are a professional online, the only person qualified to prescribe medication should be a qualified psychiatrist who knows exactly what your condition is and who can truly help you tackle it the right way. Self-medicating can cause more harm than good and make your situation even more difficult.
In any case, self-diagnosis should happen only when the person understands that everything they gather from online sources will only be accurate and trustworthy when their therapist confirms it. In any other case, it can be harmful and damaging for the person’s mentality and confidence.
Dealing with your mental illness
The internet might be able to provide you with a lot of information on the reasons why you feel or act a certain way. The problem is that you will never be able to fully get a grasp of how you should be treating this problem through just a few pages on Google.
A therapist is the only qualified person to offer you the right kind of help and to allow you to start noticing differences in the way you acted and thought so far. You might be scared or shy when it comes to talking to someone new, but there are many ways for you to get the help you need.
Byron Norris, a professional writer for Get Good Grade states: “First of all, it could be good for you to start writing down your feelings, thoughts, and emotions on a daily basis. Some of the most popular writing platforms which tackle topics like mental health issues in their blogs, urge their followers to talk about their feelings and write down their different moods in order to start understanding their conditions better.”
Keeping track of how you feel will also help you better explain your condition to your therapist and therefore allow you to express yourself better if you are too shy or nervous about your feelings.