(Rebecca Mena / Daily Titan)

Time and time again, undergraduate psychology majors try to put their unqualified skills to the test by shoddily psychoanalyzing their peers. I’ve seen it happen to others, but when it happened to me, I did not expect how much their assumptions would affect me.

“At this rate, drinking has become her crutch. Every time she goes through an episode, she will drink alcohol in order to cope with her issues. It has become a part of her lifestyle,” they said.

Their words have been stuck in my head ever since, and it’s carried a sense of dread that these students would continue to psychoanalyze other people who struggle with their mental health. As I envisioned them, the feeling got heavier, as I realized the harm that it could potentially cause.

What if they successfully manage to convince a person to self-diagnose without the help of a qualified professional? What if their actions encourage others to take online assessments that “determine” if you have a mental disorder?

The prevalence of self-diagnosis illustrates a larger issue that’s related to the glamorization of mental disorders.

I have noticed that social media sites such as Instagram and Tumblr have romanticized the idea of being diagnosed with a mental disorder. However, the idea of identifying with the melancholy and paranoia that comes with certain 

I found that this applied to me and how I have handled my mental disorders in the past, and the diagnosis I received from a professional.

According to a student-focused article by Rasmussen College, the risks associated with self-diagnosing include experiencing unnecessary panic, believing unprofessional sources, and totally disregarding professional advice while going through with treatment and medication that could further damage rather than help them individuals, according to a student-focused article by Rasmussen College.

As a kid, I was aware that there was something off within me. Derogatory thoughts, self-harm, loss of interest in things I tend to enjoy; I assumed that those traits were part of who I am, so I pushed them aside and did not address them, which only caused further harm.

It wasn’t until junior high that things took a turn for the worse. Stuck in a terrible relationship, I cried each night, injured myself with sharp objects and fasted for days. There were times where my mother found me passed out on the floor because of the lack of energy. My self-esteem was at an all-time low, and I had no idea how to help myself.

My teachers started to notice my behavior, and decided to give me a referral so that I could receive the medical attention I desperately needed.

I was diagnosed by a professional psychologist, and it confirmed my unwanted suspicions: major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and borderline schizophrenia. I tried to laugh it off with my close friends. But deep inside, it felt like a curse. I felt doomed.

After being diagnosed, I made the mistake of surfing through the internet for answers to questions I was too ashamed to ask my psychologist. I started reading blogs and unqualified articles that claimed that people with disorders have no luck in having successful relationships and academic careers. To me, those articles just enforced the stigmatization that was attached to mental disorders.

It especially hurt when my family stigmatized my mental illness and attempted to give me uninformed advice on how to cope with it.   

There have been countless times when some of them tell me that I am only sad, and just have to change my perspective on life. Others say that it is a phase, and that I should just ignore the negative thoughts. 

All of that led to self-blame for not being able to treat myself. I would constantly berate myself for being a pessimist who wallowed in self-pity. At the time, I did not know this was another method of self-harm, besides the physical ones I was familiar with.

At some point, I realized that taking my concerns to the internet, rather than to my doctor, was not in my best interest.

Eventually, I got comfortable with talking to my psychologist about any questions I had.

After years of therapy, countless prescriptions of Prozac, and exploring methods of self-care, I came to terms with my situation.

I was diagnosed again by a different psychologist this past summer. My anxiety was through the roof after taking 18 units and participating in three school organizations. They may look great on my records, but after seeing the mental toll I took for juggling such a hefty schedule, I realized that my accomplishments will not pay off if I do not take care of myself.

I still have major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, but there was a twist to the diagnosis. After reviewing my lab tests, family history and past treatments, I was told that my depression and anxiety appeared to be genetic.

In other words, I am likely going to be dealing with these disorders for the rest of my life. 

This was hard to hear, especially since I was hoping to eventually stop taking antidepressants.

But now that I am educated on the signs of a depressive episode or an anxiety attack, I know how to take care of myself and recover the best way I can. My new diagnosis cannot deter me from living my life at its best.

The article from Rasmussen College also suggested that if a person is not comfortable with going to a clinic just yet and needs something other than the internet to self-diagnose, there are options available. 

By obtaining an online patient portal with a hospital or clinic that offers them, patients can seek professional medical advice that may help them learn more about their symptoms, as well as options in terms of treatment and recovery. Another option is contacting a 24-hour nurse hotline, where a patient can discuss their symptoms and figure out whether or not they should come in for medical attention. 

It is always best to seek professional help and educate yourself as to what your symptoms actually mean, rather than take online assessments or listen to unqualified persons who think they know more about your mental health than someone who has gone through years of medical school and training.

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