Stop self diagnosing mental illness


Isabel Taylor, sports editor

Self-diagnosis has become a huge issue today, especially with accessibility to the internet. When people look on WebMD or symptom checker, but never get an actual diagnosis from a doctor, it can lead to many dangers, such as exaggerating mental symptoms, misdiagnosing symptoms, and using self-diagnosis as an excuse for personal problems.
Living in a society where mental illness is more accepted than ever before, many look to their everyday symptoms as signs of mental illness. Everyone will feel sad, or nervous, or panicky at some point in their lives, we are human after all. But symptoms do not always mean they are signs correlated directly with having depression, anxiety, or panic disorders.
It is very possible to experience sadness or to be nervous, but just because someone is stressed over school or a test they have tomorrow doesn’t mean they have anxiety disorders, and just because a person likes to keep things organized and clean isn’t a diagnosis for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
As someone who has struggled with mental health, and is getting help to cope with these issues, depression and anxiety aren’t illnesses the diagnosis has been made by a professional. That is not to say that a person’s feelings aren’t valid, but if there’s a severe issue at hand it is important to get help.
Stigma, shame, embarrassment, and poverty can all play a role in the decision not to seek treatment, as well as the inability to find quality treatment. Leaving a mental issue, even mild, undiagnosed can lead to a rapid decline in mental health. Mild symptoms of depression can turn into full range depression, which can lead to a harder recovery from these emotions. People would also misdiagnose themselves with a minor issue like heartburn when really, they have chest pain – a potentially serious problem.
Mental illness isn’t a lack of coping skills or a personal failure. It’s a serious, and potentially life-threatening, illness, which is why it’s important to address the issues one has with their mental health but also not exaggerate symptoms for selfish reasons.
Since mental health is such an important topic today, some use it is an advantage to gain sympathy or attention from others when really their symptoms are not at the severity of a real disorder.
There are students who get out of a test because they claim they have anxiety, when they just didn’t study enough and are freaking out because of that.
The older generations are finally understanding the extremeness of mental illness, and some younger people use that understanding to avoid their responsibilities.
So, should people use the Internet to research mental health problems? Most professionals say yes, there is nothing wrong with doing this to an extent, if it is used as a tool and not a final destination. There are many dangers to diagnosing oneself with mental or medical illnesses based on symptoms.