The Dangers of Perceiving Mental Health as a Fad

There are numerous posts of people talking about their anxiety, or how their OCD kicks in when things aren’t symmetrical. And I can’t help but wonder whether people are starting to use mental illnesses as synonyms for the feelings they are currently experiencing. Feeling sad becomes being depressed, paying attention to details becomes OCD, or feeling butterflies because of an upcoming interview becomes anxiety. The frequent, and often careless, use of mental illnesses as synonymous of everyday emotions has taken away the seriousness of these illnesses.

But something more concerning than the reckless use of words if the growing trend of people self-diagnosing themselves with a mental illness. Whether it is on TikTok, Instagram or Twitter, there has been a growing community of people labeling themselves as living with anxiety, depression, ADHD, etc.

Instead of going to a health professional to seek a diagnosis, people are relying on stereotypical behaviours associated with said illness or disorder to self-diagnose. An example of this is people classifying themselves as bipolar when they experience sudden mood swings; failing to realise that there is more to bipolar disorder than sudden changes in mood. Mania is beyond happiness and can manifest in different ways. Mania can be a two week artistic high, which can be accompanied by server body aches due to the constant flow of adrenaline.

My biggest gripe with folks that self-diagnose is that they undermine the importance of medication to those that really need it. They tell the world that they have bipolar disorder, ADHD, schizophrenia, etc. and state that they are doing amazing without medication and therapy. Don’t get me wrong, there are people that do live with these illness and disorders that can go without medication. However, the reality of many is that they need medication to function.

Taking medication on a daily basis is not fun, especially when you feel like you don’t need it anymore. For many people on medication, they get to a point where they start feeling better; start feeling normal. And it is at this point where one begins to wonder if medication is really needed. Add to this mix a group of people, who aren’t diagnosed, going on public platforms and proclaim to be living a balanced life without medication, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

The lure of life without medication leads many to relapse. And when a patient relapses, depending on their condition, it can be hard to bring them back to a space of normalcy.

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