Medicine

4 Reasons You Might Not Be Diagnosed Yet

Two people looking at a brain scan

Self diagnosis is a difficult topic. With the increasing research into, and discovery of, various illnesses, it’s completely predictable that there would be more diagnoses. But what this doesn’t address is the difficulty in finding a diagnosis.

And this goes for all types of illness – though you mostly hear this about mental illnesses (as they can sometimes take years to diagnose) – the rarer illnesses or more complex illnesses can take months or even years worth of doctors appointments to finally diagnose. Sadly, rarer illnesses tend to be more difficult to treat, and sometimes there is even debate within the medical community as to their existance – so even getting a diagnosis isn’t the final step.

Next time you’re doubting somebody self diagnosed, or you’re feeling frustrated for being somebody self diagnosed, remember these 4 valid reasons you haven’t been diagnosed yet:

1. You’re Busy

This is probably the largest reason for a lack of diagnosis in the modern age. Most people have jobs, school or even also children to take care of, so only have a narrow window of time where they can make their own plans. And sometimes going to the doctors is difficult to fit into this window.

It can be very, very frustrating to have to suffer an illness and to not have time to get proper medical attention. It can also be bad for you and those around you – so if you are in this situation, try to reach out to a friend or colleague who can help you with planning, perhaps they can help you get time off my covering a shift, or can look after your siblings or children while you visit the doctors.

2. It’s Hard To Talk About

What a lot of people don’t realise is that doctors are not always excellent at understanding symptoms. And people, especially when it comes to mental health, aren’t always confident talking about their symptoms. Doctors know a little about a lot of illnesses, and some are very good at recognising which illness you have, but some have to do diagnoses and further testing and it can be a very long process – and some even dismiss your illness.

Getting a proper diagnosis can sometimes mean going to several doctors and explaining your symptoms over and over again.

When it comes to mental heath, often it takes years just to address the idea of even having an illness.

The stigma surrounding mental health can push people away from a diagnosis due to shame, but what we need to understand is that it isn’t our fault – everyone’s brain is “wired” differently, but some people’s wires get a little tangled. These little tangles just mean it is harder for us to do normal things sometimes – like make phone calls or think clearly. There is no shame in having a different wiring, and the best thing you can do for yourself is understand what is happening to you. Once you understand what is happening, you can take your symptoms to a doctor and they can help you understand why, and offer recommendations on how best to deal with it.

If you worry about explaining your symptoms, it is sometimes useful to make a list of things you need to talk with your doctor about and taking it into your appointment. It can be difficult and sometimes scary talking about your illness, but it is important that you remember that you have a right to enjoy your life, even if you need medication to help.

3. You Can’t Afford It

We touched on this a little in the first paragraph, but it is important to talk a little more about it.

When you can’t afford to miss a day of work, money can get in the way of a diagnosis and even get in the way of treatments (as they get more and more expensive).

There are many ways to work out your medical expenses – it may be cheaper to look up herbal treatments with the same active ingredients to those in the medication you need, but this isn’t always possible.

Appealing to friends and family is often the easiest way to get assistance with medical expenses, but you can also start fundraisers on websites like gofund.me. This way you don’t have to deal with interest rates or paying back urgently.

There are plenty of resources for taking out medical loans for your bills and applying for medical insurance in the US, so you can make sure you are clued up before selecting your insurance provider, and make sure you are prepared if you can’t afford your bills.

4. You’re Unique (Or You Didn’t Have The Right Doctor)

Every illness has a long list of symptoms. Most symptoms overlap with other illnesses. Sometimes your doctor will put you on treatment for an illness you don’t have because of the symptom overlap. In the worst cases, this can make you even more ill, but in most cases it just doesn’t help your original problem.

All doctors have a different upbringing and can be trained in various institutions, so some doctors are better at recognising some illnesses than others, and may not have the intuition to diagnose you correctly (or at all) the first time you visit.

Illnesses like Bipolar Disorder and Chronic Fatigue take years and a lot of commitment to get diagnosed – often the medical profession overlooks or misdiagnoses mental illness due to stigma and symptom overlap, but Chronic Fatigue is  difficult to diagnose as it is very little known and poorly researched (yet affects millions of people in the UK alone).

If you have a rare or difficult to diagnose illness, it can take a lot of energy and time to get a proper diagnosis and treatment for your illness. This is not your fault, and the best thing you can do is keep returning to your appointments and talking to your doctor about your symptoms. Some doctors may not take you seriously, as doctors can make mistakes, but you must persevere if your symptoms remain, as you deserve to live a high quality life!

If you often have to visit the doctor, or are not taken as seriously as you like, try keeping a diary or making a list of your symptoms to show your doctor at your next appointment.

With a gradually increasing understanding of the millions of different illnesses, diseases and ailments, it is important that not only doctors but us ourselves understand what is happening to our own bodies and minds. Sometimes our body can handle an illness such as cold or flu, and in this case it is recommended you spend as little time away from home as possible to prevent a spread of disease – but sometimes we can’t avoid addressing our problems.

If something affects your daily functioning to the extent that you have to regularly compensate for it or cannot complete regular tasks and activities, write a list of your symptoms and how they affect you, and get to your doctor as soon as possible.

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Young, mixed-race student living in Scotland. Ready to talk about racism, sex education and feminism!

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