The Dangers of Self-Diagnosis
Today, we live in a technologically-savvy society. Where the world-wide-web provides us with everything, we need and don’t need at the click of a button. Technology has become a necessary part of our daily lives. We rely on it to wake us up, remind us of important dates or appointments, and for most of our social interactions. Although technological advancements have many upsides, several issues come with them.
One serious issue that often comes up is misleading information about mental health issues. Having so much information at your fingertips is beneficial when looking for a new sofa but not when researching our mental health issues.
The problem with self-diagnosis is that it can lead you to overdiagnosis or a misdiagnosis. For example, a common misdiagnosis is co-occurring disorders referred to as comorbidity. Comorbidity is the simultaneous presence of two or more diseases or medical conditions in a patient. These types of disorders usually derive from a substance abuse problem that causes one or more other mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety. But co-occurring disorders don’t always deal specifically with substance abuse disorder. This is where getting a professional's opinion helps.
If you are considering getting help for co-occurring disorders such as alcoholism and depression, we recommend a confidential consultation with our staff about dual-diagnosis assessment. Email us or call us at 844-777-5287 today for more information.
What is Self-Diagnosis?
Self-diagnosis is the process of diagnosing or identifying a medical condition in yourself. The process of self-diagnosis today starts with a Google search and an enormous amount of results.
A diagnosis of a mental health disorder usually involves some sort of treatment. The severity of your symptoms and the risks and benefits of available treatment options determine your treatment program. Your primary care physician or a mental health professional are people who understand mental illness, and they are the ones that should be providing you with your treatment plan if any is needed.
Making a mental health diagnosis is about more than just a number on a scale – it's about understanding someone's life and acknowledging how their symptoms affect them. Sometimes the problem is so severe and urgent that diagnosing and choosing a treatment is simple. More often than not, however, it is not so clear, and it necessitates careful consideration and discussion about how a diagnosis might be helpful or not.
Making a diagnosis is about understanding the obvious and not-so-obvious symptoms affecting someone's life. This is why being open and honest with your doctor is vital for an accurate diagnosis.
Common Problems of Self-Diagnosis
You may miss a serious, underlying health issue.
When you self-diagnosis, you assume you know everything that accompanies your alignment(s). This is a common risk taken by those who self-diagnose. This could be dangerous since you may have an underlying, more serious medical condition that needs to be addressed sooner than later. For example, headaches are a common alignment we all suffer from. But if you suffer from severe headaches or migraines, you may need to seek professional help. The causes of headaches can be minor, like stress and dehydration, or even more severe, like brain tumors. See, here is an example of how you could find yourself in a situation where you could miss a more significant underlying issue you are dealing with.
Self-diagnosis undermines the doctor.
Your doctor should be someone you trust and can confide in with all your questions and concerns.
But believing your self-diagnosis can cause frustration and mistrust in your doctor. It is ok to bring up what you found online about your symptoms, but it is best to allow the doctor to diagnose. You can always go to multiple doctors if you are not 100% sure about the diagnosis.
Results, Results, Results, Too Many Results!
There is a new term coined by Microsoft called cyberchondria. Cyberchondria refers to the unfounded escalation of concerns about common symptomatology based on the review of search results and literature on the Web. Microsoft created this term in a study published in 2008 entitled “Cyberchondria: Studies of the Escalation of Medical Concerns in Web Search.” This study found that “Web search engines can potentially escalate medical concerns. We show that escalation is influenced by the amount and distribution of medical content viewed by users, the presence of escalatory terminology in pages visited, and a user’s predisposition to escalate versus to seek more reasonable explanations for ailments.”
They continue, “The information obtained from healthcare-related searches can affect peoples’ decisions about when to engage a physician for assistance with diagnosis or therapy, how to treat an acute illness or cope with a chronic condition, as well as their overall approach to maintaining their health or the health of someone in their care. Beyond considerations of illness, information drawn from the Web can influence how people reflect and make decisions about their health and wellbeing, including the attention they seek from healthcare professionals and behaviors about diet, exercise, and preventative, proactive health activities.” (White, W.R., Horvitz, E.)
Overall, the findings of this study by Microsoft have shown that getting worked up over search results can lead to even more issues than you began with. So, for best practices, consult a medical professional to diagnose a mental condition.
Everyone is different
Everyone's health is different. Your medical history is uniquely yours. There are often misleading “facts” online that could provide false information. Identifying these truths is best left up to the professionals familiar with you and your medical history.
Web searches don’t include how a condition or symptom varies for every unique combination of health factors. Most online materials base the data on the average person, and it’s more general.
In closing, we suggest you find a medical professional you trust to diagnose your mental health issues before trusting your own self-diagnosis.
Thanks for reading!