When we’re feeling unwell, our first instinct is to look it up, searching for everything we can find on the internet that matches the symptoms that we’re having. You’ll feel relieved when your cough turns out to be just the flu after you look it up or maybe you turn afraid when the result of your chest pain is cancer. Whether you realize it or not, after you look your symptoms on the internet and you believe it without consulting with a real-life professional, you’re already doing what is called self-diagnosing. This also applies to symptoms that relate to our mental health.
Take an example of when you’re feeling so down and in the morning, you barely have the energy to get out of bed. You don’t know what it is you’re feeling so you push yourself to look for answers on the internet. You’ll probably get depression as an answer to your symptoms. You become panic or afraid but somehow you just believe it and decide not to go see a professional. Maybe you’ve done that before without realizing it. I, personally, have done this. I’m not so proud of it but I do have some thoughts about self-diagnosing and whether it’s negative or not. Just a quick reminder, please remember that I am not a professional.
It started around twelve grade, which was a year ago. I started to not feel like myself; I started to feel like I’m angry all the time when I’m not usually a very angry person. I started to look up on the internet and found about anger problems and all that. I even took some quizzes about anger management. But I took it all as a joke. Yet, further that time, I started to feel so nervous about literally everything. About a presentation, a test, a pop-quiz or even just scared of being late to school just because I haven’t left the house fifteen minutes than my usual schedule. Then I started to cry for no reason lots of time and I hated it because I’m never a person who often cries. So I looked it up, again, but this time it was more serious. I got depression as a result and that was also the time I learned about Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), the mental illness that I believe I still have even until now as I’m writing this.
Honestly, self-diagnosing, for me, doesn’t lead me into a darker path. It doesn’t make me feel bad about myself. It actually gives the answer to my questions, even gives me a clue to what I am going through. Now, some of the negative factors of self-diagnosing I actually agree. Like, as stated in an article from psychologytoday.com, self-diagnosing can lead to a misdiagnose. I do agree on that because even if the website where you read about your symptoms are professionally approved, seeing a psychologist or a psychiatrist is still the best choice because it can minimize the risk of being self-diagnose. That is also if you pick the right doctor.
What I think is positive from self-diagnosing is at least you know what could be happening to you, mentally of course. I want to go to a psychologist but I am too afraid to ask my parents for it. Why? Because in a country like mine where the stigma for mental health is too much, going to a psychologist or even just asking to go can be scary because people might think of you as crazy. That will definitely make you feel worse rather than better. Because of that, for me personally, self-diagnosing is not so bad, it even helps me on handling panic attacks that I occasionally have rather than misleading me.
In conclusion, I still think that going to a psychologist or psychiatrist is still the best option there is. The best and safest option. But, if your case is like mine, whether you’re afraid to go see a professional or afraid to ask to go, maybe self-diagnosing is not such a bad way to take yet I still don’t recommend this. Last but definitely not least, please go see a professional to get the right diagnose in order to minimize the risk of misdiagnosing and also getting the right treatment.
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