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  • Devanganna Jain

Mental Illnesses and Self-Diagnosis

The development of the internet, along with social media, has created a space for us to talk about mental illnesses. With people from across the globe sharing their personal experiences with mental illnesses, the conversation around this topic has grown. What used to be a completely taboo subject, is now more widely understood and accepted. The increased conversation around mental illness is, no doubt, a good thing. People have become more open to receiving treatment and therapy for any type of mental illness they might be struggling with.

However, with this plethora of information being available, the phenomenon of self-diagnosis has become more common. ‘Self-diagnosis is the process of diagnosing, or identifying, medical conditions in oneself’. Many people have started diagnosing themselves with mental illnesses based purely on information they find on Google. While the number of people getting professional help has increased, the number of people self-diagnosing has also amplified. There are various reasons self-diagnosis is dangerous, the first being that symptoms of mental illnesses are not clear. For instance, various problems faced due to an illness like General Anxiety Disorder overlap with those faced due to Depression. Problems with sleep and appetite occur with both mental illnesses. These two illnesses also occur simultaneously in many people. Thus, we might mistake General Anxiety Disorder for Depression or vice-versa. We might also diagnose ourselves with only one illness, even if we suffer from both. Only a professional has enough training and expertise to properly diagnose someone and recommend proper treatment.

In addition to this, medical information found online is never a hundred percent accurate. There is often false information that can lead one to believe they have a different illness than they actually do. Every patient is different. It isn’t necessary that the effect a mental illness has on one person is the same as it has on you. Further, not seeing the symptoms we are suffering from may lead to us to trivialize our own illness. On the other hand, self-diagnosing can also lead to us magnifying our mental illness. Even if someone shows minor symptoms, they could end up thinking that they were seriously sick. Trying to self-diagnose leads to us going down a rabbit hole of anxiety and concern. If people are stressed and believe themselves to be seriously sick, they can try to medicate themselves, which will cause more harm than good. It may seem easier for us to diagnose ourselves, but it is counterproductive and dangerous.

Thus, if you are feeling anxious about your mental health, it is best to consult a medical expert when you spot symptoms that worry you. The symptoms seen online may or may not help you understand what you are facing but only a doctor can provide help that will lead to positive change. Medical professionals can accurately diagnose you and give you medication, depending on what you are struggling with. It is a much safer, smarter option than trying to deal with whatever you are struggling with by yourself.

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