The Problem With Mental Health Self-diagnosis.

It can be difficult taking time out to get to the doctors, or to get an appointment even if you have the time, so a lot of us end up Googling symptoms and self-diagnosing. This is really useful, and I have been quite successful in my attempts. However, it can get confusing and one wrong click can make you wonder if you need to sort a will.

Doctor Tina to the Rescue!

Misdiagnosing is especially common when it comes to mental health, so you should not be self-diagnosing. However, self-diagnosis can be useful before taking any further steps.

Now, I’m not a doctor, but I do think I can help with some medical issues. Over the years, I have come to learn a lot about certain illnesses, so I thought I’d share my knowledge. Please feel free to correct me on anything.

Doctor Tina.jpg


Obsessive–Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a serious anxiety-related condition where a person experiences frequent intrusive and unwelcome obsessional thoughts, often followed by repetitive compulsions, impulses or urges. The illness affects as many as 12 in every 1000 people… –

You do not have OCD if:
You like having a clean house.
You check you locked the door a couple of times to prevent burglary.
You check the cooker is off a couple of times in case you set the house alight.

While these may be similar symptoms of OCD, which most people will likely experience at some point, it is only an actual disorder if the symptoms interfere with daily functioning, work, relationships, and so on.


Depression is a common mental disorder that causes people to experience depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration.

 A person experiencing depression will experience intense emotions of anxiety, hopelessness, negativity and helplessness, and the feelings stay with them instead of going away. –

You do not have depression if:
You feel a bit down or sad (especially if there is reason to).
Work or life is getting you down.
You’ve broken up with somebody and feel sad.

Depression is an ongoing battle, not a couple of weeks of feeling a bit rubbish.


Vincent van Gogh‘s 1890 painting
Sorrowing old man (‘At Eternity’s Gate’)

Anxiety Disorder

Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. But anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an anxiety disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time.- National Institute of Mental Health

You do not have anxiety if:
You don’t feel like seeing people sometimes.
You’re stressed about a typically stressful time, like an exam.
You are having trouble sleeping due to something worrying you.

Again, anxiety is a normal human reaction to stressors, whereas anxiety disorders interfere with daily functioning.


Phobias are a form of anxiety disorder…phobias go further than general fear, causing phobic people to constantly worry that they will encounter the object/situation that they fear. Time and energy is often used to actively avoid the object of fear – and if they do come across it, they endure high levels of distress, experiencing nausea, shortness of breath and potentially even panic attacks. – Hypnotherapy Directory

You do not have a phobia if:
Standing on a cliff edge makes you feel a bit worried.
You don’t fancy a spider, bee, etc on you or even in your house.
Being in a lift with 15 people makes you feel a bit weird.

A phobia is never seen as that bad, because other people believe they can relate. Again, it interferes with your daily functioning. Seeing a pattern here?



Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood disorders and it can continue through adolescence and into adulthood. Symptoms include difficulty staying focused and paying attention, difficulty controlling behaviour, and hyperactivity (over-activity). – ADHD Foundation

You/your child does not have ADHD if:
They are badly behaved.
They cannot focus on something utterly boring.
They have a lot of energy.

Unsupported, ADHD can lead to major social and educational exclusion. However, it is important to really look into this before labelling a child. Labels stick. Consider all lifestyle factors and anything which could affect the behaviour. Also – I’m very passionate about this one – please only use drugs as a last resort. Medication is one of the most common treatments given for ADHD and should be taken seriously.

This doesn’t really fit in with the rest, but is the most common one I see:


Colds and flu share some of the same symptoms (cough, sore throat), but are caused by different viruses. Flu can be much more serious than a cold.

There are around 200 viruses that cause colds and just three that cause flu. There are many strains of these flu viruses, and the vaccine changes every year to protect against the most common ones. – NHS

You do not have the flu if:
You have a runny nose and sore throat.
You’re sneezing and coughing.
You feel run down from all that sneezing and coughing.

Flu usually comes on much more quickly than a cold, and symptoms include:

  • sudden fever of 38-40C (100-104F)
  • muscle aches and pains
  • sweating
  • feeling exhausted and needing to lie down
  • a dry, chesty cough

I hope I’ve helped you to stop misdiagnosing yourselves now!

When people refer to these disorders and illnesses in response to normal emotion or a common illness, it makes them seem much less serious and almost mocks them. Some people out there are truly suffering. We already know that there is a strain on resources for help with these conditions, and this will only become worse if the people suffering are lumped in with the self-diagnosis Google doctors.

These are serious disorders and deserve recognition. However, I’m almost certain that 200 out of 500 people on my Facebook feed do not suffer from a mental disorder. And I’m also pretty sure that not everyone I know catches the flu at Christmas time.

Do you agree with this post? Are there any common misdiagnosed illnesses I’ve missed?

You might also find this post interesting: Arachnophobia – Uncontrollable fear of spiders. (no pics)

Tina x
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Disclaimer: Is there a doctor in the house? No! In case this wasn’t obvious, this is a tongue-in-cheek article and I am not a doctor.  All of the facts and symptoms have been sourced and stated, and opinions are personal.