Social Media and Self-Diagnosing: When to Consider seeing a Mental Health Professional
Recent trends in social media
There has been a recent trend towards greater discussion of mental health conditions and symptoms online. This has led to increased self-diagnosis by individuals, particularly youth, using information from a variety of sources such as Tik Tok, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and online quizzes.
Advantages of social media
Social media has helped give people language for what they are experiencing. It has offered platforms for individuals to interact and relate to others struggling with similar issues and has led to discussions as well as support groups. This trend has helped to increase awareness, decrease stigma, and normalize mental health in our society.
Disadvantages of social media
There are many videos discussing mental health issues by popular content creators who are not licensed mental health professionals. These videos may describe symptoms that may overlap with a variety of mental health conditions and are not only applicable to one diagnosable condition. Watching a brief video clip does not give adequate information. A person may start to label themselves as having a disorder that they don’t really have, and this could reinforce, or even worsen their symptoms, creating a negative cycle they may not be able to get out of. Some individuals may be using social media to self-diagnose symptoms that may also be part of the everyday ups and downs that we all experience.
What to do
- Take time-outs from social media throughout the week to give your mind space from the information overload
- Check the credibility of the people you are viewing. A few questions you can consider are:
- Are they being paid for what they are telling you?
- Do they have evidence for what they are claiming?
- Do they compare to other reliable resources?
- Reset your algorithms if you are starting to feel overwhelmed and confused
- Talk to your doctor to see if any of your symptoms could be related to a medical condition and not just a mental health issue. They can also direct you to appropriate mental health services to meet your needs
- Consider doing a consultation with a mental professional to see if therapy is right for you
How a mental health professional can help
- On a positive note, individuals who come in with more awareness of their issues from social media can offer a therapist greater insight into their internal world. This can help to focus therapy faster.
- Although some of us cannot diagnose, we can gain a greater understanding of your current and past issues, and help to create an individualized plan for you that takes into consideration all aspects of your life
- If cost is an issue, some of us can offer more affordable fees depending on your financial situation
- We can offer online or in-person sessions
- We can refer you to other professionals if needed
Heather Nolin, MC, is experienced in the areas of anxiety and self-esteem, plus many more. For more information on Heather and her work, click here to link to her full bio page.