In the wake of the horrific events in Tucson, I thought I would share the following with you from Mental Health Pros.
You know things are not going right in your life. Your emotions are overwhelming; your relationships are plagued with difficulties; your behavior is creating chaos.
When people are suffering, they want to know what’s wrong with them. Receiving a proper diagnosis is a crucial first step on the road to improvement. After all, if no one knows what the problem is, how can it be fixed?
To receive a proper diagnosis, and successfully deal with it, there are several important facts you need to know.
Go to the people with the expertise.
An accurate diagnosis can only be made by people with proper mental-health training. In some jurisdictions, only psychologists and psychiatrists can diagnose a mental disorder.
There are good reasons for these rules. Recently, a licensed clinician assessed a client who was diagnosed by some massage therapists as having three extremely severe, dangerous, and incurable problems. After quitting his job, making false confessions, and generally having his life ruined, he was in dire need of a truly professional assessment. It turned out that he had absolutely no trace of the three disorders: he was just a man in a very vulnerable place in life whom others had taken advantage of. The resulting lawsuit was settled for six figures.
The moral of the story: before being assessed by someone, inquire about their credentials, their training and expertise in the area, and their standing with their regulatory body.
It is acceptable to inquire about a professional’s credentials, their training and expertise in specific areas, and their standing with their regulatory body. It only makes sense to consult with an expert. The majority of people seek out specialists for financial decisions, consultations on automobile repair, and advice regarding education and employment. You have every right to be confident and comfortable with your choice of a mental health professional as well.
Understand that siagnoses are not absolute.
While the diagnostic categories themselves have been created by a process of consensus among scientists, diagnoses can, at times, be influenced by political and financial pressures. Furthermore, the diagnostic process is not perfect. Even when two experts use the same manual — i.e., the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV — they will often come up with different diagnoses.
This variability in diagnoses is unsurprising. The same thing happens in medicine due to overlapping symptoms, variations in how the person presents, clinician training, etc. Sometimes, diagnoses may be given in borderline cases to enable the person to access funding for treatment. In other cases, diagnoses may be denied to help reduce costs. So don’t be afraid to get a second opinion.
Learn about your diagnosis.
You need to understand what your condition is, and what the implications of having it are. It helps to know its symptoms and the different treatments available, as well as if your condition requires you to stay on prescribed medications.
It’s also important to know if there are other effective options for treatment. Exercise can be as effective as medication in treating some mild forms of depression. And, if you factor in relapse rates, psychotherapy is usually as effective — and, frequently, more so — than medication in addressing anxiety disorders, depression, insomnia, Tourette’s, and many other disorders.
Remember You are Still a Person
You are not your diagnosis. You are not defined by your illness. You are a person who happens to have a particular problem, at this point in time. In many, many cases, you can recover and return to a normal life.
It’s unfortunate to see some people build their life around their diagnoses, instead of living. In one large psychiatric hospital, patients wore T-shirts that stated, “I am a multiple personality disorder”. Actually, they’re real individuals with names, like Janelle, Barry, and Pat. Remember to build your life around who you are, who you love and who loves you, and what your life will be like after you improve and, hopefully, recover.
*Taken from Mental Health Pros