Do we all have a problem? Read these statements…….
Everyone says that I am difficult
Life is hopeless at the moment
I like control over others and I like to be right all of the time.
I have to check the door three times to ensure that I have locked it.
I eat the same foods on the same day each week.
I used to take steroids, and was a bit abusive to my partner.
I sleep with lots of men
I need to be the centre of attention
I feel trapped and I want to run away sometimes.
So, do all the people above have a mental health problem?
If you looked at these behaviours, you could possibly say ‘yes’, but it is not the case, and looking at these statements in isolation, they could be deemed to be a symptom of a mental health problem, but it would depend on other symptoms and what those symptoms are, if in fact there are any others.
For exampe, the person who feels their life is hopeless at the moment may have just lost their job, and are feeling down. If they have no other symptoms, they might be just having a temporary rough time, and will be fine once they get another job. However, it may be just one symptom of something more major, like bipolar disorder, depression or borderline personality as possible examples.
Or, it could be that the person who likes to eat the same foods on the same day each week is a man who likes fish and chips on a Friday, yet it could also be someone suffering with an eating disorder, who likes to eat only an apple on a Monday.
The above are only examples, and I am not a doctor, so this is not professional advice, but they are quite straight forward symptoms.
A qualified doctor or therapist are the people that can look at the past and present behaviours and thoughts of a person, and work out if there is a pattern or a problem there.
A test for diagnosis
I watched a programme on BBC2 in November 2008, where psychiatrists had to test a group of people. Some of the participants have a mental disorder (schizophrenia, bi-polar, depression, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and social anxiety disorder) and some are free of mental health problems.
A series of tests were carried out by the participants; both physical and mental, whilst being filmed. A group of psychiatrists watched the films and interviewed the participants, in order to ascertain who was without a mental health issue and which of them had certain illnesses.
The psychiatrists got most of the diagnosis wrong, painting individuals with the wrong mental health labels. This was quite upsetting for some of the participants, as they confirmed that someone with no mental health issues had a serious mental health issue and there were people there with serious mental illnesses that were perceived as not having any mental health issue at all.
How did they get it so wrong?
On one hand this does make me feel a little sceptical towards ‘diagnosis’ of mental health problems by doctors and therapists, as it is not the first misdiagnosis I have heard of. Ok, this was a TV programme, but they do happen in real life. However, there are flaws in the advice of professionals in many subjects and they are more rare than common, so it is always best to seek professional advice to get the help you need.
Getting help is best!
On the other hand, in many cases, people are not getting or seeking help when they need it, as they do not recognise the issues that are present within them. It can be easy to think ‘I’m alright, everything’s normal’ when in fact there are mental health issues that are hurting ourselves and sometimes others or stopping us from moving on in life – getting that job, having a personal relationship, or even getting out of the house in the morning.
I think it is best to get advice regarding getting the best diagnosis and help for your problems – the mental health charities can advise you or seek advice from your doctor.
Your doctor can tell you about the process of getting a second opinion, or contact one of the charities, if you feel you have been misdiagnosed.
Therefore, my message is “Get help today. Whether you need help for yourself or someone you know, then don’t hold back – find the help you need to make yours or their life better”
Tell me your experiences of diagnosis – email me at firstname.lastname@example.org