It's not uncommon for people to experience anxious impulses to self-diagnose their mental health problems using the dreaded ‘Doctor Google’. However, as we discussed in our previous blog post, this can have a range of negative impacts, including misdiagnosis, increased anxiety and stress, delayed treatment, and incorrect treatment planning based on inaccurate information. If you are still finding it difficult to stay away from Doctor Google despite these potential consequences, here are six strategies you can use to avoid anxious impulses to self-diagnose mental health problems using the internet.
Recognise your triggers
The first step to avoiding anxious impulses to self-diagnose is to recognize your triggers. What situations or thoughts tend to trigger your anxiety about your physical or mental health? By becoming aware of our triggers, we can take steps to avoid or minimise them, or develop coping strategies to deal with them more effectively.
Identify and challenge automatic thoughts
Our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours are all interconnected. When you feel the urge to self-diagnose, take a moment to identify the automatic thoughts that are driving this urge. Are you catastrophizing, assuming the worst-case scenario, or engaging in other forms of negative thinking? Once you've identified these thoughts, challenge them. Ask yourself if they are really true, and consider alternative perspectives.
Mindfulness is a technique that can help you stay grounded in the present moment and reduce anxious impulses. When you feel the urge to self-diagnose, try practicing mindfulness by focusing on your breath, observing your thoughts without judgment, and paying attention to your body sensations.
Limit your internet use
One way to avoid the temptation to self-diagnose is to limit your internet use. This doesn't mean you need to avoid the internet altogether, but rather, be mindful of how much time you spend searching for information about your mental health. Set limits for yourself and stick to them.
Focus on self-care
Self-care refers to the intentional actions we take to promote our physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. It involves engaging in activities that nourish and support our physical and mental health, such as exercise, healthy eating, restful sleep, and stress management. This can help to reduce anxious impulses and improve overall mental health.
Seek professional help
If you are experiencing mental health problems, it's important to seek professional help from a qualified mental health professional. A professional can provide accurate diagnosis and treatment that you cannot get from the internet. This can help to alleviate anxiety and provide a clear path forward.
While it's natural to experience anxious impulses to self-diagnose mental health problems using the internet, it's important to manage these impulses in a healthy way. By engaging in the above strategies, you can avoid the pitfalls of self-diagnosis and take steps towards improving your mental health.
If you have any questions, or would like to know more, please get in touch today.