Quit Abusing and Self-Diagnosing Mental Health Issues

By: Moboluwarin Ogunleye

Mental health illnesses today are one of the most talked about health issues. However, it has now become a trend for every Bimbo, Chukwudi, and Hassan to lay claims of having mental health issues, without having a proper diagnosis from professionals.  

According to a study conducted and published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental  Neuropsychology, it was shown that self-perception of mental health is susceptible to suggestion. For example, if you get people to report a particular symptom, for instance, “I have a little trouble concentrating”, even if they would never say such a thing on their own, you turn them into someone who later on says that they do have trouble concentrating. 

This study ages well into this information age, most especially, in relation to students. As students, we consistently find ourselves surrounded by info-graphics and banners from mental health organizations such as ‘Asido Foundation’ or others. The content of the info-graphics is usually in a bid to create awareness or shed a light on mental health issues such as clinical depression, social anxiety, and bipolar disorders. Oftentimes, students read these fliers, check the symptoms and say to themselves “do I have anxiety? ” and over the next few days proceed to convince themselves that they do have anxiety, conveniently ignoring the caveat at the bottom of the flier warning them to see a licensed psychologist before anything else.

This trait explained above is called self-diagnosis. Self-diagnosis can be defined as the process of identifying a medical condition in yourself. This is often wrong, and can also be dangerous. Most people who suffer from severe mental health issues do not like to talk about their conditions, these illnesses are usually treatable and sometimes preventable. A mere diagnosis of these problems does not require the need for treatment; the necessity for treatment is established by the intensity of symptoms, the degree to which symptoms cause distress and interfere with daily functioning, the risks and benefits of current treatments, and other criteria (for example, psychiatric symptoms complicating other illnesses). And all these are determined by primary care providers, Psychiatrists, and other mental health clinicians who understand mental illnesses and how people having them can deal with them.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are over 200 recognized forms of mental illnesses. Therefore, self-diagnosing them could lead to dangerous outcomes, one of them which includes trivializing these issues for people who actually suffer through these disorders in their daily lives.  As it was reported in a study, conducted by Dr. Komal Chandiramani and published in the International Journal of Indian psychology, he noted that the normalization of these grave issues could lead to viewing them in a trivialized or indifferent manner or better put, desensitization. Effects of this lead to ordinary people seeing mental disorders as desirable, normal, and common. While people actually diagnosed with any mental disorder may get a false impression about what they are experiencing as normal and common.

Furthermore, finding a diagnosis when one is attempting to self-diagnose can be a challenging procedure, particularly in cases where the individual shows signs of more than one mental disorder. As shown in an article by News-Medical, If they are rejecting specific symptoms, it makes the situation even more perilous. In other instances, a person may have the mistaken belief that they suffer from multiple diseases, all of which can actually be accounted for by a single ailment. For instance, a person who is depressed and has problems sleeping and being attentive may incorrectly assume that they have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), serious depression, and a sleep issue. On the other hand, depression has been shown to be a contributor to all three of the aforementioned symptoms. 

It indicates that the individual might make the problem worse by thinking about it more than is necessary or by attempting to cure symptoms that they might not even have. In addition to that, there are circumstances in which performing one’s own diagnosis could be fatal. For instance, a brain tumor might produce personality changes, in addition to depression or psychosis. On the other hand, if you self-diagnose a panic condition, you may miss the diagnosis of heart or thyroid difficulties. Your search results for potential explanations can range from a brain tumor all the way down to simple dehydration if you are experiencing common symptoms like a headache.

In conclusion, if you’re convinced you are suffering from a mental illness of any kind, Highland springs clinic says the first step in effectively healing from any medical problem, whether mental, physical, or both, is to obtain a professional diagnosis of the condition, so getting one would be wise. Because your diagnosis, at the end of the day, is one of the most crucial components of the recovery plan you’ve devised for yourself. 

Comprehending your diagnosis requires having a knowledge of the factors that led to the development of your condition. It is essential that you complete this step successfully. On the other hand, getting an accurate diagnosis can be a lengthy procedure, particularly in cases where the patient is dealing with more than one illness. When you collaborate with a trained professional in the field of mental health, you will end up with the strongest possible team.  You will be responsible for providing all of the information that is necessary to arrive at a diagnosis. In contrast, the mental health professional will provide the expertise and training that is necessary to arrive at a more definitive diagnosis. Following the conclusion of the diagnostic process, you will undergo individualized treatment.

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