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Mental Health Use this forum to share your mental health concerns and to seek advice.

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pretzel Offline
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How/why do you go about being diagnosed? - November 24th 2014, 01:16 AM

In terms of mental disorders like depression or anxiety, does one see a regular doctor or a psychologist to be diagnosed? Are you supposed to make a special appointment or bring it up in a physical check up? What's the process of being diagnosed? Is there any testing done or just questions? Also, why should or would you get diagnosed? How is it any different for you if a doctor knows about it? Do you benefit from getting officially diagnosed? Are there any downsides? Do you get some kind of certificate or something? Are you forced to tell employers or your school or anything? If you are diagnosed, is medicine or treatment always given/recommended, or is it sometimes just to tell them?
Also, does anyone have any specific stories about their experiences with this?
I'm asking because a lot of people on the internet say you don't REALLY have a mental disorder if you haven't been diagnosed by a professional. I'm kind of curious if that means you only have a mental disorder if you take some kind of pills for it. I don't even know if I have one but whatever. I've never even told anyone that I think something is wrong with me. Just asking.
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Re: How/why do you go about being diagnosed? - November 24th 2014, 03:35 PM

Hey there,

This is from the perspective of not having been diagnosed.

To get diagnosed, you could see either, but it may be best to go to your doctor first. I donít believe you need to make a special appointment, and you could bring it up in a general check-up. If you went to your doctor first, you could describe the symptoms of anxiety and depression, and they may want to take a blood sample, just to rule out any physical problems such as under or over active thyroid. Depending on your area, your doctor may be able to prescribe anti-depressants. Otherwise, you may get referred to a psychiatrist for further diagnosis and medication, and/or a counsellor or psychologist for therapy.

I was never diagnosed, so canít really comment on the process. However, I did see a university counsellor to deal with symptoms of depression and anxiety, and she asked if I had gone to the doctor, or was on medication, or if I have ever been diagnosed (all of which, the answers were no). She then sent me two scoring type questionnaires to complete, to assess my Ďlevelí of anxiety and depression, and once completed she stated that my symptoms of anxiety were quite high, however, I donít believe this counts as a formal diagnosis.

I would get diagnosed simply because I think it makes it easier to get help, e.g. if you have been diagnosed with anxiety, you know that if you want to have counselling, to choose a counsellor who can help with anxiety. Also, getting diagnosed prevents self-diagnosing (looking symptoms up online). Really, itís only different if your doctor knows about it, in order to help you more. For example, if you are on anti-depressants, you may not be able to have other medication, or you may need to have your medication reviewed. Your doctor will be able to help you find the best treatment for you and your needs. I guess the benefits are that you can get help, directly suited to your needs, rather than guessing. The one downside I can think of, is that some people may think that if they have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, that itís the end. But you are not a label. You may have depression or anxiety, but donít let a diagnosis get you down- you are more than that.

I donít really know if you have to tell employers or school. In some stressful careers, you may have a Ďfitness to practiceí test which asks about mental health. Otherwise, it may be down to you, if you want to disclose or not. I think it also depends on the severity of your mental health issues and how much they impact you. Generally though, if you disclose to employers or schools, they can also find ways to help you, if you need/want it.

If you are diagnosed, I believe that medication or therapy is always offered. However, it is down to your individual preferences and how severe your mental health issues affect you. If you have severe depression or anxiety, medication will help to relieve the feelings. Therapy on the other hand can help to get to the cause of the feelings and find ways to manage them better. Alternatively, lifestyle changes maybe suggested or holistic therapies are also available.

Iím always careful with what I say online. I usually say that I MIGHT have depression or anxiety, but havenít been diagnosed. Some people may feel that if you havenít been diagnosed, you canít say for sure, that you do have any mental health issues. You definitely donít need to be on medication to have a mental health issue. Many people may live wondering if they have mental health issues, but not finding out, and others may simply choose therapy over medication.

If you are concerned about your mental health, itís always a good idea to talk to someone about it, who can help you.

Take care

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Re: How/why do you go about being diagnosed? - November 24th 2014, 10:47 PM

Now this is all only from my personal experience with getting diagnosed and it could be different from place to place, but I believe this is how it is in most of the US. I've heard that your regular primary care doctor isn't supposed to diagnose or prescribe medications for psychiatric purposes, but that was just what I was told by my primary doctor. Most likely a psychologist or psychiatrist will diagnose you.

You can bring up your concerns whenever you have a physical or you can make a special appointment to talk about it if it'll be awhile before your next physical.

Usually getting diagnosed take awhile. You might see a psychologist and psychiatrist for a bit so they can get to know you and then they may diagnose you. Personally I didn't get a diagnosis for four years because they couldn't pinpoint what disorder I had. There's not really any testing that they do unless they special order it. You will usually just go through an evaluation of questions and such.

I think a diagnosis can be comforting for some people so they know how to approach what's going on with them. You should also get diagnosed so you can get proper treatment for it whether it be medications or therapy. The benefit of being diagnosed would be the treatment you receive. I think the only downside is that some people (not many) may treat you differently or think you're crazy for seeking treatment for yourself, which is obviously completely untrue and unfounded. You are not crazy for having mental illness or getting treatment.

I don't think any doctor will give you a certificate, but I'd really like one!

Are you forced to tell employers or your school or anything?
In the US it is completely optional to tell your school and employers about it. They are also not allowed to penalise you for your mental illness. It could be beneficial to tell someone at your school about it though because you can receive accomodations to help you succeed in school.

Medication isn't always the first thing they turn to if it isn't that severe. Say you have anxiety, they will probably teach you to deal with the anxiety before giving you medication to calm you down. It's always nice to have your feeling and thoughts heard, so that may be all they go to see a psychologist and psychiatrist for. Though, usually, if you're not getting medication you won't see a psychiatrist very often if at all.

I think it's completely untrue to say you don't have a mental disorder unless you've been officially diagnosed. Those problems were there before you were diagnosed so you had the disorder then as well as after you are diagnosed. It also untrue to say you only have a mental disorder if you take medication for it, it's just that the majority of people being treated for mental illness take medications.

If you have any other questions, post another thread or even shoot me a message!

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Re: How/why do you go about being diagnosed? - November 24th 2014, 10:57 PM

I have autism so I know what you mean about medication. I actually only take Zoloft for depression. I actually do better without much medication anyway. I used to be on risperdal for a sorry time and it actually kept me from being able to do just about anything at all.

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Re: How/why do you go about being diagnosed? - November 25th 2014, 03:17 AM

Thanks for the super informative and thorough responses. It cleared up a lot I've been wondering about and it's nice to see you guys's perspectives :)
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