Almost A Diagnosis

Every diagnosis in the DSM5 has this criteria: The person experiences "clinically significant distress and impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning...". This means that people experience normal emotions and thoughts that are not necessarily a disorder. I understand that. I agree with that. We should be able to have some undesired experiences without being categorized. But meeting people who almost have a treatable illness angers me. 

The thing is, some people do not meet that specific criteria and still struggle every day. 

Here is one example: Anxiety. We hear that word all the time. Everyone experiences anxiety and those without a diagnosis, usually have a normal, manageable dose of anxiety. Without some of it, we would be indifferent. Our goals would probably not be accomplished. We would be lazy, tired and lacking motivation. Maybe we would wonder if we had a purpose. So yes, anxiety can be good. Too much of it though, can result in a debilitating diagnosis. Those are the two extremes. But what about those of us in the gray, the gray area that is nearly an extreme? The gray area that is almost a diagnosis? The kind of anxiety that is almost disabling but not quite? Some people are left in the dark because they think that they don't have enough anxiety to look for help. This is the kind of anxiety that is not taken seriously. It can be quickly dismissed by a nonchalant "oh, everyone gets anxious from time to time". This is the kind that leaves us thinking that we are not sick enough. 

It happens with other problems too. 

What about the girl who is almost anorexic because she is not thin enough even if she is thinner than she should be and counts every calorie? Or the man who spends two hours trying to get out of bed but doesn't think he is depressed because he still manages to work a full-time job? Or the woman who cannot look at pictures of her abuser because she has nightmares and her hands sweat but her body doesn't have enough symptoms for a panic attack? What about the man who drinks every time he fights with his wife but not frequently enough to be an addict? Are these people not in need of help?

Yes, they are. They cannot be overlooked for being functional. They do not need to get worse in order to be considered "sick enough" and start to get better. That makes no sense. These are the people who do not cry enough, or starve enough, or binge enough or worry enough. These are the ones who look reasonably okay with their husbands, wives, jobs, two kids and yoga class. People don't need to be irreparable or on their deathbeds to get help. So, reach out. Reach out today before you're enough.  

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