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  • Writer's pictureMarica King, MS, LPC, NCC, BC-TMH

Using the Internet and Social Media to Self-Diagnose.....You Need to Cut It!!


Google search and social media

We have all been there. We feel symptoms of all sorts in our bodies and we turn to the internet for answers. I, myself, am guilty of this and it's natural and "normal" to want to know what may be going on with our health; whether it's mental, emotional or physical. While the internet and social media can provide information and help us feel like we're not alone in what we're experiencing; when it comes to mental health, self-diagnosing mental illnesses based solely on online sources and social media is not recommended and can be harmful. Mental health is complex, and an accurate diagnosis requires professional help (from the right professional, of course). There are very specific criteria that has to be met, according to the DSM-5-TR to receive a diagnosis and along with this are assessments that must be conducted to either confirm a diagnosis or rule out something else (like medical issues).


Seeking professional help ensures a reliable and personalized understanding of your mental health. Online information may lack nuance and can contribute to unnecessary anxiety. Information gathered online and from others with similar symptoms and experiences might lack accuracy and context, potentially leading to misinterpretations.


Here are some things you can do instead of self-diagnosing:

  • Keep track of your symptoms (when you "feel," where you "feel," what you "feel," thought patterns, times of day, triggering events, etc.)

  • Consult a professional for a thorough assessment

  • Educate yourself responsibly through reputable sources, and avoid self-diagnosing. Use information to understand symptoms rather than determine a diagnosis

  • Limit social media consumption as certain content may heighten anxiety and/or trigger negative feelings


In essence, the collaboration with a mental health profession goes beyond diagnosis; it's a partnership for growth. The knowledge we bring, combined with ongoing support, enables a more profound exploration of your mental health landscape, leading to individualized strategies that can facilitate lasting positive change. As a mental health professional, I care about your health and have vowed to do no harm. I don't want to contribute to that and I'm sure no other mental health professional want to hurt clients, by misdiagnosing, underdiagnosing or over-diagnosing due to less than accurate information that leads to inappropriate and ineffective treatment planning.


If you have made it to the end of this reading, I appreciate you taking the time to understand how self-diagnosing can lead to an inaccurate assessment, increased anxiety, a delay in treatment, and missed co-occurring issues. Now, if you happen to come sit across from me and tell me what you've diagnosed yourself with, I'm giving you my lovely, filled with love side-eye!

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