Unless you’re a professional, you should stay away from diagnosing yourself or, worse, other people.
With the Internet at our fingertips, we are often curious to search our symptoms and assume that the first answer that resonates with us is the correct one. And to our dismay, we believe every single thing we read without actually making a doctor’s appointment first. Has this ever happened to you?
Self-diagnosing is dangerous.
Last year, Banner Health wrote a piece on how Gen-Zers are self-diagnosing. They point out that while it’s good for the new generation to be open about mental health disorders, it’s also worrisome to see them self-diagnose rather than consult a professional.
And it goes further than physical symptoms. Let’s talk about when people use self-diagnosing to excuse their behavior. For example, have you ever been around people who act out in a hot-and-cold behavior and then justify it as being “bipolar”? Or worse, use this as comedic relief without considering that there are people who are indeed bipolar and don’t think it’s funny?
Just imagine how hurtful that can be.
I’ve been in conversations where the party knows someone has schizophrenia, and yet the party’s elders refer to them as “ese loco/loca,” which, honestly, gives me the same ignorant energy as when people use the phrase “I’m depressed” lightly.
Or when people get “anxious” by being ghosted by someone they just met? That’s not an anxiety attack. Heck, anxiety attacks are described as going as far as: “[experiencing] heart palpitations or chest pain.” Not just over a blank response.
And don’t get me started when these same types of people then try to excuse their actual “laziness” as a “depression” symptom when they know that’s not the case. Now, I am not invalidating these symptoms. If you think you’re bipolar or suffering from anxiety and depression, you should definitely consult a professional.
But for those who use these severe illnesses as a way to laugh with their friends, or excuse extreme behaviors – it’s time to have more compassion towards others who are actually suffering from mental disorders. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness (52.9 million in 2020).”
Whether you know it or not, you may be around people that are bipolar, depressed, suffer from anxiety, schizophrenia, etc. There’s more to people than meets the eye, and a lot of the time, you’re not going to recognize these illnesses upon the first meeting.