By Charlotte Arehart
For many people, it has become a habit to turn to the internet with any questions that one might have. While it is great to have the answers to the world at our fingertips, we have to keep in mind that just because we find an answer on the internet does not mean it is the correct one. Googling the answers to everything can be particularly harmful when it comes to physical and mental health. Searching a simple symptom such as a stomach ache may lead to answers that suggest the individual has appendicitis, when in reality they may only be having indigestion. With the internet becoming more powerful than ever, more people have been self-diagnosing with physical and mental health issues without seeking help from a professional.
Social media has played a huge role in the increase of self-diagnosing. Many influential social media users with a large platform use their platform to speak and educate viewers about mental illnesses. While this is great in terms of normalizing and reducing the stigma around mental health issues, it becomes harmful when viewers use this information to self-diagnose. I personally have seen many videos on platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok where the creator lists several widely general and common “symptoms,” such as sleeping in too much or having a short attention span, then follow up with something along the lines of “if you are experiencing these symptoms, you may have ADHD!” In the comments section, I see floods of viewers who are now concerned that they may have a mental disorder simply because they experience a few of the general symptoms listed. It seems that these videos create a lot of stress in people who do not actually need to be worried, since the symptoms listed are often so generalized. However, I do think that it is very beneficial for those who are struggling with mental health issues to receive support and a sense of community through social media. It can be very comforting to know that you are not alone going through something. If creators wish to speak about mental health issues on social media, it should be done in a very careful way. Addressing mental health on social media does present a wide variety of benefits, however it becomes an issue when people are self-diagnosing and becoming worried without speaking to a professional.
If you or someone you know needs mental health support, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/