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The Pros and Cons of Understanding your Mental Disorder
by Mel June 1st 2009, 07:51 AM

Article featured in Avatar - Volume 2, Issue 11 (May 2009).

The Pros and Cons of Understanding your Mental Disorder
By Gidig

About 9.5% of all adults in the United States have a diagnosable mood disorder. Mental disorders include major depressive disorder, bipolar depressive disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorder, eating disorders, ADHD, and others. Psychiatrists, doctors, and other health professionals can give you information on these disorders but thanks to the Internet we are now capable of researching any mental disorder on our own. The question then, is whether access to this information is helpful, harmful, or both, to those suffering with mental disorders.

The positives of understanding your mental disorder:

Many situations emerge in everyday life for people living with mental disorders that may be easier to manage if they understand their disorder. For example, if you are having racing thoughts, youíll be able to slow them down in a healthy manner by knowing and acknowledging that you may be experiencing the mania phase of manic depression.

When you understand your mental disorder, you may be able to better cope with symptoms that you werenít expecting. However, for your coping mechanisms to be effective, you should have an action plan set up for various situations. For example, if you have an anxiety disorder, you need to figure out what youíre going to need, and learn how to ground yourself before you experience a panic attack.

Sometimes the feelings we may be experiencing are frustrating, especially since it may not make sense a s to why weíre feeling them. When you understand your mental disorder, however, you may be better able to understand your feelings. In a sense it may validate your feelings and emotions; although you may already know it is okay to feel as you do, understanding the cause may offer you a sense of mind and peace.

If you know a lot ab out your mental disorder, you can connect with people from your area and speak about how your disorder is affecting your life, and swap ideas on how to work through difficult situations. Having support when experiencing hard times is very helpful when trying to keep on the right track through life. If you donít know about your mental disorder, itís harder to connect with people around you in order to receive the help and support you deserve.

When you have knowledge of your mental disorder it gives psychiatrists and other doctors a basic idea of how much you understand. Remember, though, that labeling a way you feel or act does not change who you are and should not alter how you live your life. You are still the same person you were before you were diagnosed.

The negatives of understanding your mental disorder:

While there are multiple positives of knowing your mental disorder, there are also various negatives to it. When labeled with a mental disorder, if an individual has knowledge about what it is, whether it be correct information or societal stereotypes and stigmas, they may begin to subconsciously conform to those criteria. For example, if someone tells you that you have depression, you may lose your appetite and sleep a lot, even if you didnít experience those symptoms before.

Sometimes if you know your mental disorder, you tend to treat it yourself in the best way you know how. While you could do this even without the knowledge of your mental disorder, it seems people try a wider variety methods of self-help if they are aware of what theyíre "up against." Some people may decide that since they have ADHD they should take Ritalin, whether prescribed by the doctor or not, because you understand ADHD enough to understand that Ritalin has the possibility to help. But without the help and care of a doctor, itís not safe to get your own medication.

Occasionally people will use their mental disorder as an excuse. Such as, ďI canít come to work today because Iím dealing with depressionĒ where really they may simply not want to go to work. They may even believe the reason is their mental disorder. While some events and feelings are a result of a mental disorder, sometimes they can not be credited to a mental disorder. But as long as you don't take advantage of some peoples understanding of mental disorders, you should not find a problem with this.

People tend to diagnose themselves before they have been diagnosed by a professional. This is called self-diagnosis. If you know a lot about any mental disorder, you may decide that you have this disorder and worry about it. Make sure you are officially diagnosed by a medical professional before worrying about a mental disorder you may not even have.

What should I do if I think I have a mental disorder?

If you think you may have a mental disorder, talk to your doctor, or find a psychiatrist or therapist who can help you. There is a lot of help available no matter what you may be living with.

If you feel you or a friend is in immediate danger, immediately call your local emergency services or go to the nearest emergency room.

Where can I find more information on my mental disorder?

There are multiple places to find information about your mental disorder if you would like to. Your general doctor, psychiatrist, or therapist should have knowledge and information about majority of mental disorders.

You can also go to your local library and see if they have any books that you would benefit from reading. Do make sure to look at the copyright date, because science and knowledge of mental disorders is constantly changing, so make sure youíre reading up-to-date information. Also, websites are an amazing place to start. Make sure they are legitimate websites though, like some of the following:

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/default.htm
http://psychcentral.com/
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/


Sources:
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publi...ca/index.shtml

Last edited by Mel; April 4th 2010 at 09:18 AM.
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