The internet has revolutionised the way we access information and resources. With just a few clicks, we can find answers to almost any question we have. While this has made our lives easier in many ways, it has also led to some negative consequences. This is particularly true for mental health.
Be honest. Have you ever Googled a symptom? Wondered if you should ‘just check’ if that runny nose/headache/stomach bloat/eye twitch is nothing more serious? Turning to ‘Doctor Google’ for health-related information is common.
But let’s try a quick experiment. How did it go? Were you able to accurately diagnose and mediate your problem? Get the treatment you needed? Feel relieved to have easily identified the facts and had such a straightforward medical experience? Or did you end up in the depths of the internet, spiralling into a blackhole of symptom checkers, fatal disease diagnoses and overwhelming health anxiety? (It was the latter, right?)
More and more people are turning to the internet and the dreaded Doctor Google to self-diagnose their mental health problems. While it might seem like an easy and convenient solution, it can actually do more harm than good. Let’s explore some of the negative impacts of using the internet to self-diagnose mental health problems.
One of the biggest risks of self-diagnosing mental health problems is misdiagnosis. The symptoms of mental health disorders can be complex and varied, and it can be easy to mistake one disorder for another. Without proper training and expertise, it can be difficult to accurately diagnose mental health problems. This can lead to incorrect treatment and potentially harmful consequences.
Anxiety and stress
Searching the internet for information about mental health problems can be a stressful experience. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information available online. Additionally, the information found on the internet can be contradictory or incomplete, leading to confusion and anxiety. This stress can worsen existing mental health problems or even create new ones.
Self-diagnosing mental health problems can lead to a delay in seeking professional help. When people rely on the internet for diagnosis and treatment, they may feel like they have all the information they need. However, this can lead to a false sense of security and prevent them from seeking the help they really need. Delayed treatment can lead to more serious problems down the line.
Not all information found on the internet is accurate or trustworthy. Some websites may offer information that is misleading or even dangerous. Without proper training and expertise, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. This can lead to incorrect treatment and potentially harmful consequences.
So, while the internet can be a useful resource, it should not be used as a replacement for professional help when it comes to mental health. If you are experiencing mental health problems, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional who can provide accurate diagnosis and treatment.
If you are finding it difficult to stay away from Doctor Google, the next blog post will explore some helpful strategies to manage those anxious impulses.
If you have any questions, or would like to know more, please get in touch today.