North Texas Daily

Self-diagnosing is dangerous

Self-diagnosing is dangerous

Self-diagnosing is dangerous
September 08
10:57 2020

I hate when my room isn’t clean. I have got to have OCD. I keep bouncing my leg. I know it’s ADHD. I get so moody. I must be bipolar. Mental illness is not something that can be simplified to broad feelings and observable facts. Self-diagnosing without proper research is dangerous as it worsens the stigma around the disorder and invalidates the experience and hardships of people living with the disorder.

It should be made aware that not everyone has the resources or privileges to be able to afford to get diagnosed or medicated. To say that all forms of self-diagnosing is wrong disregards those in low-income, abusive, ableist and underprivileged households. It is important to acknowledge quality of life, discrimination and misdiagnoses surrounding the medical field when talking about self-diagnosing.  However, it is also important to acknowledge the dangerous effects one may have by improperly diagnosing themselves with a mental illness.

Self-diagnosis of mental illnesses has surged across the world with the help of the internet and its ability to instantly connect people to information and communities. Though it has been beneficial to spreading awareness and information about mental illness, search engines can drive harmful outcomes through its targeted searches and logarithms that cause people to believe that the first page results are most relevant to them instead of simply relevant. Self-diagnosis has therefore become almost “trendy” as mental illness has been increasingly used as an adjective and diagnoses are announced without showing symptoms, ultimately invalidating the experiences of someone who has been suffering with said disorder.

For example, bipolar disorder is a serious lifelong condition. If you are bipolar and unmedicated you would be a danger to both yourself and those around you. Publicly stating that you are bipolar, with no basis of research or experience and using the condition as a mood, is not invalid.

Someone struggling with the disorder can see this and interpret it as “this person also has bipolar disorder and functions so much easier, how come it is so much worse for me.” This kind of comparison makes the hardships of the disorder all so much more difficult to handle. Identifying with a few symptoms does not come anywhere near the extent of which the illness can be experienced.

There is also a danger of self-diagnosing that can be exhibited when one does not experience all the symptoms shown online. If all the boxes to the disorder are not checked, one may subconsciously feel the need to begin to exhibit the symptoms in order to validate their feelings. Self-diagnosing is not harmful to just others’ experiences but can also be harmful to oneself if symptoms are developed based on research or stigmas.

Misdiagnosing oneself with a mental illness can endanger oneself by underplaying or magnifying the problem. Delayed treatment, needless concern and development of destructive thinking patterns and coping mechanisms are all risks of misdiagnosing. There is also an inherent bias against analyzing dark or uncomfortable symptoms within oneself that can lead to wrong conclusions. Health editor for Canada-Writers, Kia Stein, said, “when people deny or minimize symptoms that they are not comfortable with, they are significantly less likely to come up with a proper diagnosis.”

There needs to be much more consideration when it comes to the use of mental illness terminology and self-diagnoses. Research is not excessive five-minute quizzes but reading, keeping track of symptoms, learning family history and being honest with yourself and others. There is an important responsibility that comes with claiming a self-diagnosis. Mental health should be taken seriously, and improper self-diagnosing works against this.

Featured Illustration by Austin Banzon

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Vanessa Delgado

Vanessa Delgado

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