Self Diagnosis in the Medical Field


Val Lubetsky

Self diagnosis seems to be on the rise: with mental and physical disabilities more openly talked about on apps like TikTok, people seem more open about discussing and disclosing personal struggles, which encourages others to seek help of their own.

As a result, medical professionals have noted an uptick in patients and clients coming in with their own ideas of what disorders they may have and even medications they made need. While it’s important to remember that diagnosis is not linear and cannot be determined by a list of symptoms, it is good for patients to learn to advocate for themselves and start a dialogue about their physical or mental health with a trusted healthcare professional.

Self diagnosis can also be important for lower income individuals and people of color. The medical field, both physical and mental- related, have a history of discrimination against people of color, especially those who are Black. Even more, the cost of care is just too high for those in a lower income bracket. In these cases, self diagnosis can help these people find their own answers and know exactly what to bring up if and when they do get the necessary medical attention they need.

Self diagnosis should be used as the start of a conversation between professionals, not as a replacement for actual diagnosis.

On the other hand, patients can come in set on one specific diagnosis or convince themselves they have an incurable disease. Patients believing they may have certain disorders because of one or a few experiences can cause more harm than good. This can be overwhelming for both the patient and doctors. It’s important for professionals to distinguish certain behaviors from actual symptoms of an illness, which can be made difficult with patients pushing back based on their own at-home research.

As someone with both chronic physical and mental illness, a lot of my dialogue about my health have been rooted in my own research. Knowing exactly what to bring up to a medical professional can help a lot in the diagnosis process, and while what someone originally assumes they have might not be their exact diagnosis, it can certainly help get on the right path toward a correct diagnosis. However, it is hard to not get wrapped up in self diagnosing every small thing that happens in your life.