Why People Self-Diagnose (and Why You Shouldn't)
Humans, especially those in the modern age, have always been obsessed with understanding themselves better. It is this thirst for self-exploration that guides sciences like psychology, biology, and anthropology. It’s common to hear someone casually calling himself manic or OCD or antisocial. Thanks to the internet and the limited amount of time most people get to spend actually discussing health issues with their doctors, people take it upon themselves to get online and fill in the blanks. After minutes or hours of browsing, they confidently label themselves as this or diagnose themselves as that.
If you are concerned that you may be experiencing the symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), you, too, may be tempted to conduct a self-diagnosis. Young adults are extremely savvy with the internet – all it takes is a click of a mouse button and virtually all the information you can find out about a disorder is at your fingertips. You scan through the list of symptoms, take an online screening test, or read a few personal testimonies. Suddenly, you’re convinced that you have this disorder.
Be warned, self-diagnosing BPD can be extremely dangerous.
Jumping on the internet to get a recipe or find help answering a complex math question can usually lead you in the direction you want to go. Unfortunately, mental health is not that straightforward. Most mental health disorders – BPD included – are distinctly intricate. Many patterns of symptomatology overlap. For example, people frequently rush to categorize severe mood swings as Bipolar Disorder, however depending on the severity of the mood swings, the direction of the mood change, and the length of time of each episode, these changes can potentially reflect Major Depressive Disorder or BPD as well.
BPD self-diagnosis is the equivalent of pretending to be a trained mental health clinician. Because that is what is truly required to decipher the subtleties of mental illnesses – a psychiatrist, psychologist, or licensed therapist.
Self-diagnosis leads by the assumption that an individual is only suffering from one distinct disorder, when it is entirely possible that two disorders are affecting you at once, a concept known as comorbidity. Furthermore, using the internet to diagnose a serious condition eliminates the potential for a thorough examination by a doctor or other health professional to rule-out a medical condition. Health functions along a gradation. A biological disease can produce mental health symptoms, while some mental illnesses generate somatic symptoms, too. Therefore, taking over-the-counter medications or natural remedies to cure a mental illness may only worsen the underlying medical condition.
An experienced mental health professional will conduct a thorough review of your reported symptoms and inspect your medical history for help gleaning information about what may be bothering you. It is best to trust this assessment rather than relying on a cursory internet search. Read if you must, but share your concerns with a professional before taking action or cementing a diagnose for yourself.