Can I Treat Myself For My Mental Illness?

Do I need a Therapist?

Sometimes people ask the wrong question. Take the title question, for example. Can you treat yourself for mental illness? Of course you can. But that’s the wrong question. The correct one is: 

Should you treat yourself for mental illness? The answer to that one is a resounding no. Why? Because not only can self-treatment worsen your condition, it might even lead to your death.

You wouldn’t attempt to perform your own appendectomy would you? Neither should you attempt to treat a mental illness. Both treatments require the knowledge, training and skill of a healthcare professional who not only knows exactly what he or she is doing, but also knows how to avoid making a mistake.

Dangers of Self-Diagnosis

It may shock you to learn that the medical profession recognizes over 200 types of mental illnesses. Trying to diagnose yours by researching online is equivalent to feeling around blindly for something sharp in a haystack. Since you don’t know what you’re looking for – a needle, a pair of scissors, a nail, a thorn, a tack – you’re likely to find something else entirely and stop your search, thinking you’ve found what you were looking for.

“Ah,” you say, “but I know what symptoms I’m experiencing.” Yes, you do, but you don’t know what’s causing them. Mental illnesses are complicated. Sometimes they’re caused by an underlying physical disease. Other times they’re caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain. Still other times you actually have two or more illnesses coexisting. Assuming that a Google search will give you a valid diagnosis is very dangerous. Sometimes it takes mental health experts weeks or even months to properly diagnose you.

Dangers of Self-Treatment

It goes without saying that if you misdiagnose yourself, you’ll then probably proceed to attempt to cure yourself with diet, exercise, over-the-counter medications and supplements, or even alcohol or illegal drugs. Not only will these self-treatment aids not cure you, but they can worsen your symptoms, negatively interact with each other and ultimately kill you if you inadvertently overdose.

Proactive Health Care Versus Self-Diagnosis and Treatment

Just because you should never attempt to diagnose or treat yourself doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t actively participate in your professional diagnosis and course of treatment. You definitely should. Being absolutely open and honest with your health care professional about what you’re experiencing, the extent of your discomfort, the way in which it affects your daily life, and which of his or her prescribed treatments and medications seem to best relieve your symptoms can not only help you, but also him or her continue to provide you with the best possible care and treatment.

Talking to an experienced therapist in Mclean, VA from a mental health services group like Lindsey Hoskins & Associates can answer your questions. Finding a good therapist is important so that you have the support you need to live your best life.