Dangers of Psychiatric Self-Diagnosis
Proper psychiatric diagnosis requires expert clinical knowledge, extensive training and a foundation from years of experience working in the field. In addition, a comprehensive understanding of psychological disorders and how they are related to one another can make a critical difference in choosing which treatment plan will be the most effective and successful.
Self-Diagnosis Delays and Prevents Correct Treatment
Psychology Today reports that with the ease of being able to “Google” anything today, hundreds of thousands of people self-diagnose reaching their own conclusions about what may or may not be “wrong.” Unfortunately self-diagnosis is often incorrect, delaying and often preventing proper treatment. For example, almost 70% of people who report anxiety as their main concern also have depression – with self-diagnosis, a second or even third disorder which needs to be treated can be completely overlooked.
Medical Problems Missed in Psychiatric Self-Diagnosis
While there is always a danger with the process of self-diagnosis of a psychological syndrome, one of the greatest dangers is that a serious medical disease may be missed. It is not uncommon for a medical problem to masquerade as a psychiatric syndrome, such as those that present with changes to their personality, depression, or psychotic behaviors – treating symptoms with over the counter medications from self-diagnosis would not be the proper treatment when the correct diagnosis may be a serious neurological, cardiac, or endocrine problem.
Common Dangers of Psychiatric Self-Diagnosis
When self-diagnosis is wrong then proper care and treatment can be delayed or the wrong treatment can be instituted which can negatively affect any hoped for outcomes. Receiving a proper diagnosis takes a well experienced psychiatrist or mental health professional to not only determine what the problem is, but to sort through what the problem is not. Some common dangers of psychiatric self-diagnosis include:
- Missing the nuances a proper diagnosis demands – those with mood swings for example may self-diagnose manic-depression or bipolar disorder when they may have a borderline personality disorder with major depression, other complicating factors or different combinations of diagnoses altogether
- Misdirecting the mental health professional with complaints related to self-diagnosis
- Providing self-treatment based on an incorrect decision
- Denial or inability to correctly interpret symptoms and behaviors displayed that disrupt one’s life
- Many personality disorders are not openly reported as they are a problem to others, not one’s self
Self-Diagnosis versus Clinical Diagnosis
Self-diagnosis can have life-impacting consequences on one’s life. Discussing symptoms and noted behaviors with a clinical specialist is imperative to starting the treatment strategy that fits and is successful. If symptoms or behaviors are causing distress in your home, work or social situations, seek out a professional. There’s no issue with educating yourself about symptoms; however, leave the diagnosis to an experienced psychiatrist. Please call the office to set up an appointment and make sure you get the right diagnosis.