Steps should be taken to better understand and diagnose mental illness

Steps should be taken to better understand and diagnose mental illness

Steps should be taken to better understand and diagnose mental illness
November 02
13:00 2018

Mental health is a broadening and ever-changing subject. The way it is diagnosed, the way it is treated by medical professionals and the way society has come to accept these parts of our lives is up for debate.

Psychiatric drugs have the potential to create stability and routine, and have helped people across the world conquer mental illness. Yet by the same token, these prescriptions — such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and anti-depressants — have the power to provoke addiction, suicidal ideation and other adverse effects.

There are some diagnoses requiring lifelong subscriptions to medication with good reason. But these diagnoses are not the center of my argument.

My concern is that emotions that are a natural part of life, like sadness, anger, shame and resentment, are being over-diagnosed as faulty wirings in our minds when in fact, it is normal to feel reasonable doses of unhappiness at times.

The diagnosis of a mental illness is subjective to an extent. Oftentimes a psychiatrist will initiate a diagnosis from a clinical interview by asking questions that follow the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The DSM-5 was created by the American Psychiatric Association to help classify mental disorders based on symptoms and other criteria. Diagnoses for major depressive disorder are given as a result of vague and generalized judgments, such as unexplained weight loss/gain or inability to concentrate.

The problem here is many mental illnesses have symptoms that overlap. Depression, borderline personality disorders and bipolar disorders are often misdiagnosedThe ambiguity surrounding diagnoses confirms the idea that there is still an uncanny mystery to the brain and the development of what we deem a disease. If we cannot accurately differentiate mental illnesses beyond doubt, isn’t it possible to misinterpret unhappiness?

Depression and suicidal ideation are not normal endeavors we should be inclined to experience. The growing rate of mental health diagnosis in western countries has caused an epidemic in need of understanding. Medications can help provide temporary emotional asylum, but the answer to why the public is vastly depressed has a deeper origination.

Who we are as people is comprised of a multitude of personal and systematic beliefs created from memories and experiences. Sometimes these moments cause us incredible pain. It seems human for us to turn to simple, external sources like pills to help us forget and cope with these experiences.

The popular Netflix series “Maniac” highlights parts of this discussion. Without giving too much away, it follows two characters into a pharmaceutical trial working to demolish human pain on an individual level. The drug starts with identifying the deepest traumas a person has faced and causes them to relive it, change its form and force its acceptance.

The story finds in the end that it is not the drugs that cause definite change, rather it is the ability to form human connections and attachments that creates happiness.

My belief is that medication is a short-term solution — a last resort that should be treated as such by psychiatrists and society alike. I urge others to reflect on personal pros and cons of prescriptions before indulging in the costly happiness they tempt. Sometimes authentic happiness can be found within ourselves.

Featured Image: File

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madeline chalkley

madeline chalkley

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