Do you self-diagnose?

Have you ever been browsing or scrolling for a while and then come across something that makes you feel as if the algorithm knows you a little too well? I’m finding that self-diagnosis is an increasingly common issue when it comes to mental health for this very reason.

That is its job, to get to know you and to offer you content that feels familiar and enticing. What content creators then aim to do is create what can only be described as ‘blanket content’. Content that feels as if it is aimed at you, but it can really appeal to a mass audience.

The unfortunate thing about this is that mental health is often a popular topic for blanket content.

“Do I have…?”

I’ve noticed this increasingly in this industry so I thought it worth discussing what it means to self-diagnose versus recognising your own ailments.

Social media in general has become notorious for encouraging content surrounding click bait and content to amaze and shock. The bolder you are with your content, the larger the following you can gain.

What this means however is many creators and influencers are sharing bare-bones knowledge or theories around mental health issues.

What can also happen is diagnosed creators sharing their symptoms and experiences, and audiences relating to them without the context or elaboration needed.

Knowledge is power…?

What I don’t want anyone to take away from this is that any information you find will be inaccurate.

My firm belief is that the more information we share surrounding mental illness, the further we can develop our resources and accessibility to the help that people need.

That information however must be consistent. The main focus has to be to educate rather than to shock or scare audiences. With the main aim being for people to self-diagnose, you are devaluing the severe issues that many people have.

‘Reasons you might have ADHD’

This is one that has been on my radar for some time now. There are floods of content offering symptoms or habits that supposedly mean you have ADHD.

That is not to say that the symptoms they share are wrong, but those symptoms must also surround context, background, history and – most importantly – tests.

Without this, you are self-diagnosing. Meaning you are creating an issue that could have been reworked in many other ways and often times, exacerbating the real issue.

This hasn’t just happen with Attention Deficit disorder, but issues that initially come to mind are:

  • Audiences feeling that a few symptoms means that they can say that they have the issue.
  • That the proclaimed symptoms are not actually symptoms.
  • Diagnosed ADHD sufferers feeling their diagnosis will not be taken seriously.
  • An influx of people feeling as if they should try and get a diagnosis even without exhibiting accurate symptoms, which can overwhelm resources.

What I can’t do is hold social media completely to blame.

I also compare it to many people associating cleanliness or tidiness with OCD.

We have always been hard-wired to find a clear, black and white description for who we are or what we are. Simple traits a lot of time just aren’t enough, and it is a natural urge to want to label something that doesn’t need labelling.

Feeling forgetful now and then does not conclude that you have ADHD, and having things a certain way in your home does not mean you have OCD.

If you believe you have issues related to neurodivergence, you can discuss this with your GP. Many therapists and counsellors are also able to offer a free telephone consultation to discuss these worries with you.

Oftentimes therapy is the most effective way to understand your thoughts and actions. If these issues are effecting your day-to-day wellbeing, then tests are readily available.

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