How and When to Seek Help Getting a Diagnosis

Posted: March 10, 2022 | Author: Abbie Cochrane | Read Time: 3 minutes

Seeking a diagnosisMental health can be difficult to pinpoint. People can jump to conclusions through self-diagnosing based on what they see on social media or the internet because it provides a simple answer to what they think is ailing them. However, not only can self-diagnosing be bad, but it can be dangerous. Jumping to conclusions about a mental health-related issue can lead to starting incorrect treatment, overlooking real mental health-related problems, and a lot of unnecessary worry or panic. It’s important to go to trained professionals, like your doctor or therapist, when seeking a reliable diagnosis for something that genuinely worries you.

The SUU CAPS office suggests that you ask yourself if a professional mental health diagnosis will facilitate or promote wellness in your life or not. In other words, what do you hope to gain from this professional diagnosis? The only correct answer should be that you want professional help for something that is an obstacle in your path to a healthy life. For example, when you go to the doctor because you have the stomach flu, you don’t ask for a Band-Aid. Instead, the doctor gives you medicine to help your stomach feel better. The same can be said for seeking a mental health diagnosis. You go to get the help you need, not the help you think you need.

“If a student is seeking information to understand themselves, that is the time to go to a professional,” CAPS confirms.

Another important thing to remember is the difference between validation and self-diagnosis. Some social media posts are meant to spread awareness about a certain condition, not encourage others to self-diagnose. The idea of spreading awareness through social media is a way for people who genuinely struggle with similar problems to feel seen and have their experiences validated, better understand themselves, and form a community with people in the same situation.

“Use the information flexibility,” CAPS adds. “Think of it as some pieces of the puzzle, but not the entire puzzle. Every situation is unique and no one can be the expert of the person's lived experience.”

Mental health is not a one-size-fits-all thing that anyone deals with. Everyone’s experience is going to be different because no one has the same life experiences. On rare occasions, a person could be misdiagnosed. For example, many people with past trauma are commonly misdiagnosed with ADHD and bipolar. To learn more about some challenges and criticisms with misdiagnoses, search the DSM-5, or the universal handbook on mental health struggles and diagnoses. You can find a downloadable copy online, listen to it as an Audiobook, or purchase a hard copy on eBay or Amazon.

As you continue forward, be on the lookout for any misleading information concerning mental health online or from any unreliable sources. To determine whether a source is reliable or not, especially online sources, check to see if it provides links to related websites, if it is government-maintained (ending in .gov), if it is unbiased about a certain condition, and if it provides an author or publisher. If it fits this criterion, this is a good source to pull basic information from until you can go to a professional. Avoid self-diagnosis, and visit the CAPS office if you are curious about which of the many available resources are right for you to get you started on better understanding yourself.

Tags: Mental Health Student Life CAPS

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