Table of contents:

Why is it harmful to make psychological diagnoses to yourself and what to do instead
Why is it harmful to make psychological diagnoses to yourself and what to do instead

The coincidence with the "symptoms" from the Internet does not mean anything yet.

Why is it harmful to make psychological diagnoses to yourself and what to do instead
Why is it harmful to make psychological diagnoses to yourself and what to do instead

Many psychological articles and tests are published daily on the net that describe the signs and "symptoms" of various conditions, as well as mental disorders. And although the very interest of people in their psychological well-being is important and pleasing, it is easy to get confused in such a flow of information.

People who are convinced that they have a psychological and sometimes psychiatric diagnosis often turn to me for advice. Most often, they put it on their own based on articles on the Internet, and the conclusions rarely correspond to the real state of affairs.

Let's try to figure out how such a self-diagnosis can harm.

What is wrong with self-diagnosis

Usually a lack of scientific, professional knowledge distorts the perception of what is happening. And most importantly, self-diagnosis does not help to solve a difficult situation and get rid of the "symptom" that is tormenting the person.

Complex psychological phenomena are greatly simplified

Non-specialists tend to reduce complex problems and conditions to simple and narrow definitions. This makes difficult terms and situations easier to understand, but can be confusing and lead to incorrect conclusions.

For example, there is a widespread belief that depression is a kind of sad mood. But the sadness after watching a tragic film cannot be attributed to the manifestations of depression. The essence of the disease is much broader: it has different causes, types and manifestations. And only a specialist can deal with them.

The set of "symptoms" is not taken into account

It is important to note that in this article the term “symptom” has no medical meaning, but is used to describe the psychological manifestations succinctly.

To make a correct psychological diagnosis, it is necessary to take into account the entire complex of "symptoms", because the same symptom can indicate a variety of conditions. However, self-diagnosis is usually carried out on the basis of 1-2 bright signs, excluding the rest. This approach, of course, leads to errors and misconceptions.

For example, I was consulted by a client who was convinced he was suffering from bipolar disorder, or bipolar disorder. The young man made a conclusion based on only one point from the article about this disorder - a change of mood from sadness and apathy to enthusiasm.

But with bipolar disorder, mood doesn't just change. A person with this disorder experiences long periods of deep emotional states - from a week to two years. In addition, there are a number of other symptoms that help identify the disease.

The client did not actually have a bipolar disorder, but due to self-diagnosis, he was very upset and often depressed.

The characteristic of "symptoms" is not taken into account

Not only the "symptom" itself is important, but also the situations in which it occurs, as well as other indicators. For example, the duration of the phenomenon, its spread to all spheres of life. And there are a lot of such details, which is why only a specialist can fully understand all this diversity.

So, difficulties with memorization appear for various reasons. If a person has been working a lot and sleeping a little in the last week, their perception systems are overwhelmed. The brain does not have time to process information. Rest, sleep and recovery will help here.

But when a person sleeps enough, and memory is deteriorating little by little and for a long time, it is necessary to analyze other "symptoms". If absent-mindedness and impaired thinking are also present, it is possible to assume problems in the functioning of the brain and refer the person to a neurologist.

There is no objective perception of the problem

A self-made psychological diagnosis is often at odds with reality for another reason: a person cannot see the whole situation as a whole. Perception is subjective, it is influenced by such factors as lack of information, lack of a clear goal of observation, psychological defenses.

For example, someone who complains of irritability may not notice that he reacts this way only in a certain situation - when communicating with colleagues. But since communication with them takes most of the day, a person may consider himself irritable in general. And again, make psychological diagnoses based on this "symptom". Although, perhaps, it was in an unpleasant team.

How can it hurt

There will be many negative consequences.

Avoiding the true problem

Often, self-diagnosis performs in some way a protective function and helps to focus not on the key difficulty, but on the "symptom" itself. In such situations, people often say to themselves: "now it is clear why it is bad, but what to do - such a state."

This happens when the main problem that caused the "symptom" does not want to be solved for some reason. For example, a person may be psychologically hurt or even find it difficult to think about the source of their difficulties.

Unfortunately, such an escape is a great illusion. An unsolved problem will constantly remind of itself and manifest itself in another place, whatever you call it.

So, the mother of a 6-year-old boy turned to me. She was convinced that her son had ADHD, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Such a diagnosis can only be made by a psychiatrist or a neurologist. Several doctors examined the boy and concluded that he was healthy. But the child's mother trusted the material read on the Internet more.

It turned out that the boy showed “symptoms,” partially similar to those of ADHD, only in the presence of his mother, and the problem lay in the area of relationships within the family. At that time, it was more difficult for the client to admit this and begin to change the situation than to convince herself that something was wrong with the child.

Attempts to match the "diagnosis"

Some people actually begin to adjust their behavior to the state described on the Internet. Although the psychological diagnosis was made on the basis of one "symptom", the person comes to the conclusion that everything he read is true, which means that one must correspond. This is how self-hypnosis works: in fact, people convince themselves. Unfortunately, this behavior makes the situation worse. If only because it leads away from the real problem.

Rising anxiety

When a person collects information bit by bit from different sources, the information is often intertwined, and the described states are mixed with one another. This can lead to confusion and intense anxiety.

In addition to worrying about "symptoms", there is also anxiety about one's mental state in general. This situation does not at all help to solve the root cause, due to which a person began to search for information on the Internet.

So, at the age of 17, I suffered from a developed imagination and anxiety, which sometimes reached the level of panic. I read a lot of information on the Internet and decided that I have schizophrenia. Of course, then I was not yet a psychologist and the necessary knowledge was clearly not enough. It's good that I decided to go to a specialist and was able to figure it out: I found out that I do not have schizophrenia, solved my anxiety problems and learned to control my imagination.

Misunderstanding by others

When a person has made a psychological diagnosis for himself, which he does not have, there may be misunderstandings in communication with others. First of all, with people who really suffer from such a problem, and those who know what this condition looks like.

More difficulties in communication appear if a person is completely immersed in thoughts about his alleged "symptoms" and, as it were, fenced off from others.

Unjustified actions

Some people not only make psychological diagnoses based on what they read on the Internet, but also make serious decisions. This can be reckless.

For example, an article titled “30 Signs It's Time to End a Relationship” is not a reason to pass a psychological judgment on the relationship, even if the couple is in a difficult phase. It is necessary to take into account the individual characteristics of the situation, perhaps seek advice from a family psychologist and remember that crises in relationships are normal, and each of them is a possible point of growth.

What to do when something bothers you

It is important not to be afraid to seek help from a specialist. So it will be possible to avoid the negative consequences of self-diagnosis, and also save time and effort. A competent psychologist or psychotherapist will help you understand the situation, explain what the "symptoms" are associated with, and show you how to deal with their cause.

And although going to an appointment can be exciting, believe me - today the choice of specialists is huge. Perhaps the first time you will not be able to find "your" psychologist or psychotherapist, but it is definitely worth looking for.