I do alot of research on mental health issues and sometimes I relate them back to myself. There was a point where I was searching day and night for an answer to what was “wrong” with me. Turns out I’m just human, imperfections come with the package but everytime I’d tell someone I think I have this or that they’d tell me not to diagnose myself which confused me because doing all this research was actually helping me in so many ways, so today I’m gonna talk about the pros and cons of self diagnosis
The NHS offers anti-depressants to people who want them, so if we were to diagnose ourselves with depression but we’ve actually been experiencing a low mood because someone close to us recently passed away taking anti-depressants could put us at risk. Taking medication for something we don’t have can be really dangerous
It can be dangerous to focus on our mental health in a unsafe space, counsellors and therapists are trained to create safe spaces where we can explore our mental health. If we try to do this on our own we may bring something up that we’re not able to deal with without professional guidance, but traumatic memories and feelings can be brought up in many different ways. I got obsessed with researching about mental health issues when a repressed memory was triggered yearsssssss later by a relationship I was in, after that I really struggled with my mental health and doing research made things easier for me before I started therapy
sometimes when we do a lot of research on mental health and we’re not sensitive with the information we may end up internalizing or romanticizing our mental health issues and making them our whole identity. We might make social media pages, dress a certain way, study certain things, listen to certain music and have certain friends to reflect this. This can make it harder to recover when/if we start therapy because it would be more like becoming a whole new person instead of trying to change one aspect of ourselves (therapists are trained to help us cope with this)
A lot of people who say don’t diagnose yourself are neurotypical, neurotypical is basically just a fancy word for “normal” people or people who are not characterized by autistic or other neurologically atypical patterns of thoughts or feelings. So they’ve never really felt like they don’t belong somewhere or been confused about something they do repeatedly. For people who have, it can be very isolating and distressing especially if we come from a religious background where our behaviors are often described as demonic and not a part of us. Psychology can really gives us peace of mind in one area of our lives because even if we do still have mental health issues we can finally say with conviction that we’re not bad or evil or weird we’re just normal human beings who’ve developed mental health issues due to past experiences and we’re actually not alone. In that way self-diagnosis can be so freeing
If the world was perfect I would say no one should self-diagnose because everyone should have a therapist but unfortunately that isn’t possible. There’s many reasons why people can’t access therapy: they may not be the kind of person that can open up to a stranger, they may not have enough money or they may not be a high enough priority to get free therapy through a government scheme. In situations like this self-diagnosis and self-help is almost essential to recovery. There are many self-help books and websites out there but in order to know what we need, we need to do a little research on ourselves first because there’s different strategies for coping with different types of mental health issues and if we do end up getting it wrong there’s no harm in learning coping strategies for something like OCD if we don’t have OCD. You never know, we might meet someone who has OCD one day.
Even though I’m for self-diagnosis I still think therapy is way more important but self-diagnosis can actually help us during our therapy process. A lot of people get mis-diagnosed because therapists are only human and people are so complex, it’s so easy to make a mistake when assessing a client. Having our own knowledge of mental health issues can prevent this from happening because no one knows us better than we know ourselves. Say for example we’ve forgetting to mention certain things to our therapist and they use the information we’ve given them to diagnose us with depression but we know a lot about bipolar and we remember that sometimes we act really manic, we could bring that up with our therapist and they can explore it further with us and later realise that we actually have bipolar not depression. This means we get the correct treatment and medication for us.
So yeah, my hopes for this blog post is to change the idea that no one should ever self diagnose, maybe we should just take caution when doing so