Staff Editorial: Self diagnosis can be dangerous


According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately one in five teenagers aged 13 to 18 suffer from a mental illness; however, not all teenagers are aware of their illness. One of the causes of this phenomenon is due to self diagnosis. Self diagnosis can be a helpful tool in recognizing issue with your mental health that is both cheap and accessible, but self diagnosis is only helpful in the short run. While it can be reassuring to understand your possible disease, it is more beneficial in your long term health to visit a physician who can diagnose and prescribe a treatment to your mental illness.

Unfortunately, there is a stigma that surrounds mental illness that could be due to the fact that you have to rely on the patient to be completely honest and aware of their emotions to determine a disorder. Some people can exaggerate their experience, and other people can minimize their emotions when expressing their thoughts. This can cause issues when researching your possible illness because you could misdiagnose yourself by convincing yourself you have a false symptom. Since all people view their experiences differently, it is important to have a physician objectively review your symptoms to give you the most accurate diagnosis.

Another reason why self diagnosis can be dangerous is that a mental illness could be a result of another physical abnormality in your health. The brain is an organ like all of the other organs in the body, so a problem with the brain should be treated the same as having a problem in your liver or heart. Some mental health problems can actually be caused by a more dangerous ailment, such as a brain tumor being the true cause of someone’s mood swings. This makes self diagnosis dangerous in the long run because you could easily miss some of the causes of your mental illness.

In addition to giving you a diagnosis, a physician can also prescribe you medication. Usually, mental disorders are partly caused by an abnormal decrease or increase in a hormone, like a decrease in the brain’s production of the hormone serotonin is a cause of depression. Physicians are the only people who can prescribe you the correct dosage of medication to treat your illness. So, although a website can advise you to do certain activities to better your mental health, such as meditating, it is probably more beneficial to get a variety of ways to treat your illness that includes both medication and therapeutic activities.

Self diagnosis may seem to be the solution to the dilemma of the steadily rising cost of accessing reliable healthcare. Fortunately, the healthcare field is constantly growing and discovering new methods of treatment for patients with mental health. So, visit a physician to verify your self diagnosis and receive the most effective treatment.