Why Self-Diagnosis of Depression is a Bad Idea

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People rank their own depression. In doing so, they decide whether or not to seek treatment. It appears that people’s judgments about the significance of their depression depends on how they think it compares to the suffering of friends and family and even the world.

New research shows that people make inaccurate judgments about the severity of their own depression and often create for themselves a false positive diagnosis of their mental health.

If a vulnerable person is surrounded by people with mental health problems, they may be inclined to see themselves as doing better and miss out on valuable treatment options.

Two new studies from the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick found that people’s judgments of whether they were depressed or anxious were not mainly predicted by their symptoms’ severity, but by where the people ranked the severity compared to their perception of other people’s symptoms.

Researcher Karen Melrose from the University of Warwick summarizes:

“It is the patient that initiates most GP consultations about depression and anxiety, so that person’s decision to see a doctor is a vital factor in determining a diagnosis. Given that fact, our study may explain why there are such high rates of under and over-detection of depression and anxiety. Worryingly, people who could be the most vulnerable to mental health disorders – for example those from certain geographical areas of the country or demographic groups where depression and anxiety are high – could be the very ones who are at highest risk of missed diagnoses. This research could help health professionals better target information campaigns aimed at these groups.”

Source: University of Warwick, MedicalNewsToday