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Mental Health Disorder

Mental Health > Mental Health Disorder

First, a note: one of the first things not to get caught up in doing when you are reading up on a particular mental health disorder—for your kids, your mate, or you—is come to a hasty conclusion and decide you have or they have all disorder. This is what first year psych students learn (if the instructor is worth a wit).

Yes, it is imperative that we investigate the apparent symptoms, so that we can then take our observations and concerns to a licensed practitioner, but it is also important we don’t jump to snap knee-jerk decisions. I say this not because I am a Ph.D., an M.D., or any other title with a D. in it ,necessarily, but because I read it when I was studying the enthralling subjects in my mental health disorders texts (then called deviant psychology texts) on my own, and was sure I had every disorder, diagnosis, neurosis, and psychosis I encountered. I also heard in my first year as fledgling psychology major, heard it again through cohorts, classmates, and colleagues who also came to laugh at themselves as they each decided in their solitude that they, too, were surely at least one of the four types of schizophrenic, manic, depressive, or in some way psychotic.

But as funny as we still find this, a quarter of a century later as we remind each other to take our meds, it is actually quite serious to have to contemplate your own or other’s mental health disorder. I acknowledge this, as I now have gotten my self-fulfilling wish and have one of the most insidious of disorders, ADD.

Still, it is warned that when you are reading up on or studying an illness, or mental health disorder, the tendency—as humans who crave connection—is to identify with well-written material. (I believe I recall reading about med students who end up convinced they have half the problems they are reading about.) The lesson is, however, that with each mental illness one must have a certain (large) number of or all of the symptoms/characteristics of that illness.

For instance, to be considered to have ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, also known as ADD (no emphasis on the implicit Hyperactivity), one must be diagnosed as having most of the 69+ symptoms and must have these said symptoms notably apparent and consistently observed for at least 6 months, consistently. This, according to mental health disorder professionals and experts in print and online at mental health disorder sites, who will also tell you that not only is ADD often mistaken for other disorders but it is falsely diagnosed in many who do not have it.

The same (or similar) goes for a neurosis or psychosis, with a psychosis diagnosis requiring one to have every symptom, affect, or condition listed for that particular psychosis.

And while we can read as much as possible on a subject, studying the FAQ’s, completing questionnaires, and even taking legitimate tests in self-help books, online and by telephone hotlines, we cannot self-diagnose our own mental health disorder based on books; we cannot be diagnosed over the Internet, and cannot be diagnosed over the phone.

When I was a kid, we didn’t have the net, and we didn’t (weren’t blessed with) such recently understood mental problems as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), BPD (Bi-polar Disorder) or OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder). We had the symptoms, but not the genius of medical and mental health scholars, researchers, and experts to diagnose them. Of course, we had plenty to work with—what with the epilepsy, early Alzheimer’s, and other daily dementias we were sure we had.

Mental Health > Mental Health Disorder