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Dare To Not Diagnose

Asking the Hard Questions

Society loves band-aids

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Wherever you turn, especially in North America, you are bound to come across someone diagnosed with a mental disorder. From depression to personality disorders, anyone can label themselves with a condition. If you have not been diagnosed yet, it is not too hard to get one.

While studying to get a master’s in psychology, a compelling thought changed my view of mental disorders. The course material included studying treatments, various types of disorders, criterion, classifications, theories, and so on. In discussing and writing about these topics, a question remained with me throughout the course: “Are we actually targeting the problem?”.

If you are up to date with the most renowned health and wellness-oriented influencers, it is not uncommon to hear that our modern medical system treats the symptoms, not the cause. It doesn’t change with mental problems either. One of the Webster Dictionary definitions of diagnose is,

“Investigation or analysis of the cause or nature of a condition, situation, or problem”.

Most modern physicians’ “investigation” does not go farther than identifying the symptoms. During one class section of my masters, we studied the pros and cons of diagnosing people. One of the downsides of diagnoses includes the person will be defined by the diagnosis, thus they live up to its characteristics or stereotype. Instead of the labeled diagnosis sticking to them, they stick to the label.

Then, there are people who are looking for a diagnosis. Yes, a proper diagnosis can lead to a more directed treatment plan and understanding of the person’s behaviors, but does it really benefit the person as much as we think it does.

Take for example a mother with a daughter who is not doing well in school. Her daughter struggles to study, stay focused and fights to just pass her classes. The mother assumes her daughter has Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD or ADHD). She goes to the doctor, but they cannot quite give her an absolute diagnosis of the condition, yet they give the daughter a prescription to maybe help her focus. She goes to another doctor, and another, and another until someone says, “This is what is wrong with your daughter”. But there is nothing wrong with her, maybe something is wrong with her environment.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) teaches us that if you have A symptom + B symptom, it equals the C diagnosis. Humans are not formulas, and neither are our minds. We have a choice to heal. The hard thing about that is that choosing is hard. Once you choose, you need to go forth unhesitant and put in the work.

I am not saying if someone worked hard enough, they would rid their Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia. I am saying we need to have more intention with people by looking at the external environment and their internal environment.

Being a victim is all the rage these days, yet it is not making us anymore resilient, strong, or healthier. Choose to not be a victim and fight the good fight for your emotional, physical, and mental health.

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