Self Diagnosis


Bella Trimmer, Staff Writer

If you know anything about mental health, you’ve probably heard the term “self-diagnosis.” It’s pretty much self-explanatory: self diagnosis is when someone determines, on their own, that they have a certain medical condition, usually based on introspection and some level of research, whether it be the DSM or the first search result on Google. (Although, in this article I’m specifically referring to mental disorders.) It’s somewhat of a controversial topic in the medical field. Does it really have its uses?

Many medical professionals would say that self-diagnosis does more harm than good. “[Self-diagnosis] can be very dangerous, as people who assume that they can surmise what is going on with themselves may miss the nuances of diagnosis. For example, people with mood swings often think that they have manic-depressive illness or bipolar disorder. However, mood swings are a symptom that can be a part of many different clinical scenarios: borderline personality disorder and major depression being two examples of other diagnoses.” Srini Pillay M.D. writes in Psychology Today. While you do know your own feelings better than anyone, you don’t have the extensive knowledge that a trained professional does. If you can’t sleep, can’t concentrate on anything, and feel a general sadness or lack of motivation to do anything, you might diagnose yourself with a sleeping disorder, ADD, and major depressive disorder when really all of those symptoms could be caused by clinical depression alone. Even if you actually have the disorder you suspected, going to a doctor and getting an official diagnosis can open you up to more treatment options like prescription drugs.

However, I believe that self-diagnoses has its uses, and that it isn’t as bad as most people make it out to be. Though I’ve never received an official diagnosis, I know I have an anxiety disorder. I’ve lived with all the symptoms for years and felt so awful not knowing what was wrong with me. Finding a name for something that had made my life almost unbearable was an indescribable relief. Talking with someone about my experiences, especially a stranger, is terrifying to me. For some, access to therapy is limited, whether it be due to money problems or, if you’re LGBTQ+, you might have trouble finding a therapist who is accepting of your identity. Yes, misdiagnosis happens, but you know yourself better than anyone else. My advice is to keep going after self-diagnosis; continue doing your research, talk to a doctor about your symptoms while keeping an open mind.