When it comes down to self-diagnosis the answers are rather funky.
To learn how to diagnose yourself you only need, in theory, to know the symptoms of anxiety.
I already covered those, so what’s the point in even writing this article in the first place? What more is there to it than simply knowing the symptoms?
More than you would think.
I have a friend who had a meltdown
I knew a guy who wanted to earn lots and lots of money, as much as he could in his young age (he was 18 at the time).
He worked as a salesman and was a very good one at that, then he got a second job as a course instructor (can’t recall what he taught).
Point is – the guy was crazy busy!
His schedule was tight, but his mindset was even tighter.
He lived through his days always worrying about sales goals, assignments from his students, tests and so much more.
He believed that this was the mark of a productive, full life, but he was wrong.
It was killing him.
all of this work, all of his worry, were building up without any limitations or stops for rest.
He thought he was going mad and believed that clearly there’s something wrong with him, so he checked up symptoms for different diseases and ended up with the conclusion that he was suffering from a General Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
As it turns out he was wrong – and that’s the problem.
Upon further inspection, it was concluded that he was suffering from fatigue and prolonged stress, nothing more.
he was yet to reach the level where his condition became full-blown anxiety.
He was advised to de-stress, sleep more often and the like – some pieces of advice that we could all apply to our lives.
He decided to not take them up on that offer, and his condition got worse from that point on.
By the time he was forced to slow down he already got some long-lasting results, for real.
The point of this story? Self-diagnosis isn’t the best idea, more so when your potential illness is as multilayered and flexible as anxiety.
Allow me to elaborate.
Misdiagnosis is a drag
Like I’ve already said, he was wrong in his diagnosis, he assumed that just because he saw the symptoms (or what he thought were the symptoms, we’ll get to that later) he had the condition itself, but he was wrong.
And it could have cost him some of his mental health.
Seriously, if people misdiagnose themselves they may try and apply some sort of treatment to their condition, the type of treatment that is wrong.
Just thinking that your condition is X is well and good, but it’s what you do with it that counts.
For example, if you had trouble sleeping, suffered from a lot of stress and had trouble focusing, you may attribute these symptoms to an anxiety disorder, but it could (just as easily, mind you) be a sleeping disorder or even a fatigue disorder.
By diagnosing yourself with anxiety you are misunderstanding your sleeping disorders, something that may lead to them escalating.
When it comes to self-help and this sort of stuff I tend to much prefer the broad approach of looking at possible causes and knocking them one by one.
As such, even if you are wrong, you still improved your mental and physical health in the long term.
The fact is that even trained professionals mess up, a lot.
In the U.S alone, over 12 million people are misdiagnosed yearly, that’s about 1 in 20 visitors!
This implies that doctors and professionals mostly hit the mark, although the subject is much more obscure when it comes to mental health, your chances are simply worse than their’s despite that fact.
You may end up obsessed
Cyberchondria is, simply put, an obsessed search of symptoms and worry.
With the gap between doctor/therapist and patient being slowly closed thanks to the internet (that is to say that medical knowledge is easily accessible), it’s much easier for the common folk to simply go on ahead and read some medical data.
You would think that you can’t go wrong with that, but you can.
Obsessing over possible symptoms and illnesses will harm you just as much as any other anxiety disorder would.
You will find yourself spending hours, literal hours, checking online data and matching symptoms.
Not only that, but you will somehow end up having at least 2-3 diseases all at once.
Even if you are perfectly fine! Humans are emotional creatures, and our worry goes a long way in convincing us of certain things.
Let your doctor check you up, come up with his own conclusions, and then go visit a mental health professional for their evaluation as well.
Afte all, doctors have a hard time diagnosing properly outside their field of expertise.
You aren’t fully informed
Doctors are some very well educated people.
They spent years of rigorous, intense, training to reach their title.
Yet despite that, their job is very simple: Meet the patient, diagnose them, and offer a solution.
Simple, yet in no way easy.
In fact, it’s quite hard.
So hard that doctors have to heavily specialize in one field in particular.
You won’t find a cardiologist giving treatment recommendations for lung disease, after all.
So what gives you the right?
Heck, in the case of anxiety, for all you know you could be suffering from lung disease, and anxiety, depression and the like are nothing but symptoms of that condition.
You wouldn’t know, it’s only through a chain of doctors, therapists, and professionals that such a conclusion may be reached.
Sure, you could guess that, but it’s pretty unlikely for you to notice your anxiety (as a symptom, in that case) and relate it to any potential lung disease you might be having.
You are subjective
When I go to random WhatsApp group chats I often times find that people write messages such at “Ugh, *insert something* sucks! I think I have depression!”
Ugh, no you don’t.
But for all I know, you might be feeling it right now.
The whole Idea of mental illnesses and emotions is how they twist your mind to the point where you are beyond subjective.
Let’s say you suffer from anxiety, it’s likely that your decision-making skills are going to be pretty bad as a result.
Humans perform under overpowering stress badly, and anxiety is nothing but overpowering stress.
We mess up our decisions, conclusions and, by extension, thoughts because of that.
So what is there to say that our viewpoints don’t change, either.
After all, you are more likely to react in a certain way when you are angry when compared to when you are not.
Heck, you might not even notice how you are acting – how many of us did things that we regretted when our emotions took over?
That’s why we need to have a mirror, and our doctor/therapist is that mirror.
He can notice things that we can’t, he can tell the difference between “feeling depressed” and having a Depressive disorder, even when we can’t.
Sometimes, just listening to someone who pays attention can take us a long way.
So what good is self-diagnosis?
Now, up until now, I was doing nothing but telling you to not self-diagnose yourself, but there is a silver lining here.
Self-diagnosis can be a good thing.
If it wasn’t then your doctor wouldn’t ask about your own experiences in the first place.
If you have a lot of symptoms that are stress related, it would be a good idea to look for a therapist and have them make the final judgment.
If they can’t solve your problem, or try and help but fail, then you might want to visit a different professional, maybe a cardiologist – a lot of stress-related symptoms are shared between different types of anxiety and heart conditions.
It’s all about taking the initiative, looking at the symptoms at hand, visiting a doctor, voicing your own suspicions and discussing the situation in depth.
You should never come up with the final conclusion on your own.
You can, on the other hand, discuss your concerns with them – none of my doctors even considered that I have had a B-12 deficiency up until Doctor Mark pointed out that possibility.
Doctors are humans, they can be wrong, and often times are.
Coming somewhat informed to a meeting will help you describe your condition better and focus your meeting.
It’s way better than just claiming that you have an anxiety disorder and be done with it.
So that’s how to diagnose yourself
This guide applies to more than just anxiety, but the general agreement is that you are to take note of general symptoms and feelings that you are having and report them to a licensed professional.
Self-help is always welcome, though, since it’s meant to improve your mental health regardless of any other factor.
As such, you might want to check out my review of the “panic away” program, as well as that of “the shyness and social anxiety system“, both are very promising for their respective conditions, so even if you are faced with stress and obsessive thoughts both can take you a long way regardless.
As a side note, anxiety has both physical and mental effects.
in order to point out that anxiety is indeed the source of the problem, you might have to visit multiple doctors and get multiple expert opinions, on both the physical and the mental scale.
It might seem troublesome, and skipping it in favor of self-diagnosis may seem easier, but your health isn’t something you should take lightly
So here’s a final question – What is your way of handling seemingly random symptoms?
Make sure to write down your answers in the comment section below, I read every single last one of them!
If you got any questions you would like to ask me personally then make sure to send me an email.