Self diagnosed with ignorance 

Image from author.

With so much information being readily available at a moment’s notice, it’s not surprising that everyone thinks they’ve got a degree in psychology. More and more frequently people have taken it upon themselves to diagnose themselves with all sorts of disorders based on a handful of symptoms, but as any psychology student will tell you, correlation does not equal causation. There is no substitute for a professional’s opinion and diagnosis, but does that mean we can’t use information we find on social media to our advantage? While self diagnosis frequently gets taken to the extreme it can be helpful in moderation; you simply need to strike the right balance.

Self diagnosis can be a double edged sword. When interviewed on the subject, Washington High’s sociology teacher, Mr. Rigdon, said, “The more research we do the better, though we have to be cognizant of the fact that most of us aren’t professionals.” 

Mr. Rigdon believes we may be able to use our understanding of our own symptoms and the information we have access to to get an idea of what condition we may have, but google will always show you the extremes. Symptoms can be caused by thousands of different things, but google will always tell you that a consistently sad mood is depression, rather than stressing the nuance. Personal research can act as guidance, but trained professionals will always have a better understanding than our phones.

Even though self diagnosis can be helpful, it very often isn’t, causing more problems. When asked if self diagnosers bother them, a senior at Washington High said, “It bothers me when they claim to have a certain disorder but refuse to go seek a professional opinion.” 

Unfortunately, this happens more often than it doesn’t. Whether it’s because someone genuinely believes they have a disorder or it’s just a play for sympathy, people are going to trust their own thoughts and beliefs. That’s not to say that self diagnosing can’t work, since there’s always the chance that they’re right, but the problem is when the person gets so confident in their own answer that a professional’s opinion means nothing to them anymore. Disorders will always be far more nuanced than we alone can interpret, and there is no substitute for an official diagnosis.

Self diagnosis is a touchy subject. At its worst it lets people fall into their own confirmation bias and lets them believe whatever they want, but at its best it can be an invaluable tool for pointing out disorders and work as a stepping stone to a professional diagnosis. In the end it’s a tool for us to use, but not to completely rely on: doctors will always know more than a quick google search.

Clayton (Mae) Paxton is a 17 year old first year journalist born and raised right here in Fremont. They’ll gladly write an article about whatever catches their attention, but mainly they want to write about popular game releases and the history of gaming media. Predictably, their main hobby is playing video games but they also spend their free time ranting to their friends about how good whatever song that got stuck in their head is. Their plans for the future are just to make it to the next day and enjoy themselves doing it, ideally getting a job in the gaming industry but never worrying too much about any of that.

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