Stop Self-Diagnosing Mental Illness

Nowadays, with the ability to google anything, the temptation for people to reach their own conclusions about their illnesses is stronger than ever. 

Mental illness in particular has gained more awareness over the past few years, which has been a good thing because we have been able to reduce the stigmas surrounding many mental illnesses. However, this has only led to many more people self-diagnosing, and this needs to stop. 

It seems like every time I log onto Facebook or Twitter I am greeted with posts of people complaining about their anxiety, depression, or Obsessive Compulsive behaviors. I see posts like “As a person with an anxiety disorder, I don’t think it is fair that we are required to give presentations in class” or “as someone who has depression…” Do you really have depression? Have you seen a doctor? More often than not, these individuals are in reality, not actually suffering from any of these diseases or disorders. 

There's a reason doctors go through years and years of medical school and are required to be licensed. They are trained to be able to give you an accurate diagnosis. It's easy to misinterpret symptoms and these doctors are trained to evaluate your condition, give you the proper diagnosis, and help you take steps toward recovery.

If you have concerns about your mental illness, that's okay. What's not okay is diagnosing yourself. Doctors are licensed professionals for a reason, and they're there to help. You don't hear of people self-diagnosing themselves with cancer or polio, so why is it thought to be acceptable to self-diagnose a mental illness?

Those who have a mental illness suffer every day because of it. It’s not something they want. It's not fun. It's not cute. It's incredibly hurtful to have someone self-diagnose themselves when they have no idea what it's like to actually have a mental illness. It's easy to experience symptoms you may think are the cause of a mental illness when they're just situational issues.

People begin to question who's lying and who's being honest, and thus disregarding those who truly do have a mental illness. It makes people who are diagnosed seem like they are just faking it for attention or they’re being dramatic. They are then shamed for seeking medical attention, and this is not healthy. Living with a mental illness is hard enough, the last thing people need is to hear that their illness isn't real.

It's called an illness for a reason. Self-diagnosing takes away the validity of those who actually have an actual mental illness. Being tidy does not make you OCD, having mood swings does not make you bipolar, and being sad does not make you depressed. 

I understand we all have been wronged, we get sad for prolonged periods, and feel nervous in unfamiliar territory or serious situations, but there is a distinct difference between sadness and depression, being nervous or having anxiety, and having quirks or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. How would I know if I had cancer? A doctor would tell me. Do the same with mental illness. 

If you have suspicions, see a doctor, there is no harm in doing that. Maybe you have a mental illness, or maybe you misinterpreted symptoms. However, don’t turn to social media to state your suspicions and do not by any means say you have a disease when you haven’t been diagnosed by a professional.