When it comes to our mental state, many of us have probably done occasional consultation with Dr. Google. During this trying time, some might already tried to look for ‘loss of energy’, ‘difficulty sleeping’, ‘worrying too much’ and ‘dead inside’ down the search engine.
According to Google Trends, the search for the word depression and anxiety has had an increase over the past few months compared to 2019 with related queries on depression test and depression anxiety stress scale test.
Aside from searching for the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety, people are also trying to measure their mental state using online psychological assessments.
At this point, it is not unlikely that many tend to assume that they have a mental condition based on what they read online.
I can beat this!
When we self-diagnose, we assume that we know the nooks and crannies of a particular mental illness, undermining the possibility that the feeling might be just a symptom of something far more severe.
Take lethargy and anxiety as an example. These conditions are both signs of a wide variety of conditions like hypothyroidism and PCOS. If the underlying condition is not treated, no amount of yoga and meditation, or any other band-aid solution can make the tiredness and excessive worrying go away.
Something’s wrong with me!
Another danger of self-diagnosis is that our symptoms might account for far more than it is!
Examples would be insomnia and depression. Googling the signs and symptoms will lead you to a ton of conditions such as attention deficit disorder, sleep disorder, major depression, and even a brain tumor.
Assuming that you have some or all of these conditions and not putting a finger on which one would make you worry more which makes things worst.
That’s just my “personality”
Self-diagnosis can be very dangerous if you are in denial of your symptoms.
You may think that your random spouts of anger are just part of your personality or your constant overthinking is due to the stars affecting your zodiac. Not taking these symptoms into account might lead to poor judgment and late therapy or treatment.
When do I see the Doctor?
According to Ms. Jirah Mae Gealon, Guidance and Counseling Office Director of Southwestern University PHINMA, one have to start seeking professional help especially when they meet the following criteria:
- You have thoughts, emotions, or behaviors that are out of control, especially when they are affecting your relationships, your school, work, or your sense of well-being.
- You are struggling to deal with life’s painful challenges – such as a major illness, the loss of a loved one, academic or family problems. These issues may be your own, but could also include those of others you care about.
- You are confused, caught up with overwhelming emotions, and need the perspectives of a caring yet unbiased person (such as a counsellor) to help sort among difficult choices.
- You feel that life is no longer worth living, that you are hopeless and have reached the end of the line, and you would rather die than feel the pain of the present. Amid such distress, you are not prepared to make life-or-death decisions. Ask for help.
Ms. Gealon reminds us that we shouldn’t wait for things to get worse before we seek help. When we feel that it’s already causing a sense of imbalance in our usual routine, start reaching out for help!
Why do I have to see a doctor? Is Google not enough?
When it comes to any condition, may it be mental or physical, we lose our chances of a better quality of life once we start undermining the role of doctors and medical professionals.
These professionals have spent years studying these conditions and they are the ones who know how mental illnesses correlate with our bodily functions.
Trusting a professional is like having a map; they tell you exactly where you’re going and they give you the right directions too. Only a health care professional can give you, with utmost confidence, a proper diagnosis.
Where do I go?
For students of SWU PHINMA, the Guidance and Counseling Center offers counselling services. They have recently set-up a Facebook page dedicated to mental health that students can go to whenever they need to avail of this service: https://www.facebook.com/swuthrive.
Also, they may be reached through the Cobras’ helpline, which is available from Monday to Friday (8 AM – 5 PM).
You may reach them through these numbers: 0948 222 6836 | 0916 731 9400 (for college and medicine); 0951 962 3092 | 0935 828 2722 (for Basic Ed and Senior High).
You may also contact 24/7 crisis hotlines such as Tawag Paglaum Centro Bisaya (09399375433 / 09399365433 / 09276541629), Hopeline PH’s 24/7 hotlines (0917-558-4673 (Globe); 0918-873-4673 (Smart); 02-88044673 (PLDT); 2919 (toll-free for Globe and TM)) and In Touch Crisis Line (for free counselling): 09178001123 / 09228938944
Seeing the wide variety of information on mental health on the internet could mean that slowly, people are now accepting the existence of mental health conditions and recognizing its effects on individuals. But this access to information is just as detrimental as it is helpful.
Without proper guidance the knowledge that we have could be a recipe for our own distress.
Talk to a professional and seek help.
You are not alone!