Diagnosis is the process of identifying and determining the nature of a disease or disorder by its signs and symptoms, through the use of assessment techniques and other available evidence. The classification of individuals based on a disease, disorder, abnormality, or set of characteristics, psychological diagnoses have been codified for professional use, in ICD-10 and DSM-5.
Self-diagnosis is the process of diagnosing or identifying symptoms in oneself. It may be assisted by medical dictionaries, books, resources on the Internet, past personal experiences, or recognizing symptoms or medical signs of a condition that a family member previously had. It is very dangerous and prone to misinterpretation.
In today’s world, when people have less time, they use Google search to understand the world around them including themselves. A large number of people use other sources from the internet or books to identify symptoms and treat themselves. These books or websites are not always correct; some are good for enhancing one’s knowledge but relying on them completely can be harmful.
Below mentioned are certain reasons which help us understand why we should avoid self-diagnosis at all costs.
- Searching about symptoms on different websites can cause stress and anxiety. There’s a lot of information available on the internet and anyone can put information on the web. People need to be careful about which website they rely on. A diverse perspective on the symptoms and an overload of information can lead to anxiety and stress.
- Self-diagnosis can pose a problem when one is in a state of denial about their symptoms. For instance, when we read about certain symptoms, we tend to base our argument on the resources which validate our point and deny the presence of any symptoms or issues in us.
- In psychological syndromes, there’s a chance that the patient may miss a medical disease that masquerades as a psychiatric syndrome. For example, brain tumour may be present during the change in personality or depression.
- It undermines the role of the therapist and can impact the relationship between them. For instance, the patient can start questioning or distrusting the therapist’s diagnosis or even stop going for a diagnosis.
- Another problem posed by self-diagnosis is that at times, we may feel that we understand what we are reading but in reality might be the exact opposite. We might believe that have the ability to treat ourselves but in reality, while we may be able to identify one symptom, we may not be able to realise the co-morbidity of other issues attached to that symptom. It can lead to the wrong diagnosis. It is important to take professional help to understand our issues in a better way and from credible sources.
- Certain symptoms may not seem as problematic to us but could be disruptive. For example, delusion disorder.
- It might lead to self- medication which consequently might lead to taking infective medication or mixing up of medication which might have harmful side-effects.
- It leads to unnecessary costs by buying dangerous medications. For example, buying anti-anxiety medicines based on 1-2 symptoms from the lists of symptoms. In this, medicine is not applicable; it could be something else or treated by therapy.
- Self-diagnosing can result in unnecessary emotional distress that could result in depression or anxiety.
- It leads to believing and relying on unreliable sources and fake news.
- It can lead to misinterpretation and confusion about terms and meaning of symptoms because of unfamiliarity with the terms and their meaning.
- It leads to too much reliance on symptoms checkers. While it can be used to educate ourselves, it is not an alternative to professional help.
- It leads to looking at wrong factors of illness or enhancing the wrong factor. For example, say your mother or father is experiencing symptoms such as pain in his or her left arm, headaches, muscle strain, dizziness, and blurred vision. By relying on the internet, you might self-diagnose that your loved one is dealing with increased levels of stress or even anxiety but if you dig a little deeper and get a professional opinion, you might find that the above symptoms are of a heart attack.
- It could worsen the situation of a person by performing the wrong treatment or taking the wrong medicines.
Studies have shown the dangerous and harmful impact of self-diagnosis. The sources of the internet and books can be used as supplementary methods to enhance knowledge and gain information. Professional help is necessary to understand the symptoms and taking prescribed and correct forms of diagnosis based on the symptoms. The professionals have qualifications and experience to understand it and to diagnose it. Hence, self-diagnosis should be avoided at all costs.
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