Is self-diagnosing okay?

I'm currently struggling with diagnosed depression, anxiety, and Misophonia. Also, I am 99% sure I have Borderline Personality Disorder and Avoidant Personality Disorder. I read the DSM-IV, taken college psychology, etc. I know it in my heart I have them. Is self-diagnosing okay with the right research?

Kaileen McMickle, MS, LPC
Kaileen McMickle, MS, LPC
Licensed Professional Counselor

Sounds like you are really concerned about the things you are feeling and the way you are interacting with others.  

Self-diagnosing is not typically recommended since there could be a misinterpretation of the criteria even if you do seem to "fit the mold".  How you interpret how you feel or how you behave can be distorted, no matter who you are.  I actually did this to myself when I was in graduate school and it turned out to be wrong!

With that being said, I believe people are the experts on their lives and know best what is happening for them.  What is telling you that you have these diagnoses?  What does it mean about you if you do?  

I don't give a ton of weight to diagnoses in the sense of treatment because a lot of diagnoses share the same underlying themes and origins.  Both Borderline Personality Disorder and Avoidant Personality Disorder can be a result of childhood trauma, so treating one may not look that different from treating the other one---and the most important factor will always be the relationship you have with your therapist otherwise treatment won't work.

I do give a lot of weight to diagnoses in terms of emotional relief.  It can be really stressful to feel like there's something "wrong" with you and not be able to give it a category.  It can reduce stigma as well to know that what's happening to you is normal for what you've been through, and that others are going through it, too.  And it definitely helps to know that there are ways to help and people that know how to help you.

Either way, kudos to you for noticing something in your life that you want to change!  It seems like relationships are important to you and you maybe worry you are pushing people away that are important to you?  Even if you do have these disorders, you can totally learn how to change your life.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

Any diagnosis is limited in its usefulness.

Knowing the name of some typical ways you may feel, think and behave, doesn't help you or anyone to understand why the person is the way they are and how to change any of these characteristics.

Both self-diagnosing and being diagnosed are equally unhelpful to know why you are the way you are and what to do about it.

Consider yourself a person who wants to find a better way to be who you are, and this will get you further with better results than to read a list of descriptions which all are very indicting and negative sounding.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Robin Landwehr, DBH, LPCC, NCC
Robin Landwehr, DBH, LPCC, NCC
Mental Health in a Primary Care Setting

Hello, and thank you for your question. Self-diagnosing is something that we all do about one health issue or another. Taking a guess about what may or may not be happening to us is completely normal, however the actual clinical diagnoses of a mental health disorder requires a licensed mental health professional. Here are a few reasons for this:

1. Making a clinical diagnosis often requires other things besides matching up the symptoms of a disorder. To come to a diagnoses for any of the things you mentioned, a counselor would consult the DSM, but they may also use some type of screening tool, assessment or scale. Many disorders have similarities and it requires someone with training to tease out the differences in the symptoms.

2. Our judgement is sometimes off when it comes to assessing ourselves. We really can't be objective. Something as serious as determining a diagnosis really needs to be done by someone who has that objectivity. In addition, once you know your diagnosis, treating it usually requires help from a professional.

3. Sometimes the symptoms of a mental health disorder makes self-diagnoses impossible, in and of itself. For example, someone could be having hallucinations or delusions and not realize it. That would clearly make it impossible for them to diagnose themselves. There a many examples where something like this could happen with different mental health disorders.

There are other reasons, but these are three important ones. Now, does this mean that you are wrong about your diagnosis? Maybe not. You may be correct. But, it is important to get this confirmed by a professional mental health clinician. If a disorder is then found, you can begin to talk about treatment.

Hope this was helpful. Be well.

Robin J. Landwehr, DBH, LPCC, NCC

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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