Why shouldn't I self-diagnose mental illness?

Psychiatry, Psychosomatics & Psychotherapy

26.01.2018

If you have mental health problems, don't wait too long for a medical assessment

In principle, a psychiatrist or psychotherapist can be consulted directly without the need for a referral from a family doctor. Some people find it easier to first contact their family doctor, who can then refer to further treatment offers if necessary.

People who suffer from mental problems and cannot get them under control alone or through conversations in their social environment should not wait too long before a professional assessment. You should seek medical advice, for example, if you notice psychological changes in yourself for which there is no external reason, you feel different than usual, worry and fears or exhaustion arise in everyday life and everyday work can only be done with difficulty . “Untreated mental illnesses can easily develop a negative momentum of their own and trigger further health problems that subsequently make it even more difficult to overcome a disorder. It is therefore very important to clarify as early as possible whether there is a mental illness, ”advises Dr. Christa Roth-Sackenheim from the Professional Association of German Psychiatrists (BVDP) based in Krefeld. Almost every third person suffers from a mental illness that requires treatment at some point in their life. Depression, addictions, bipolar disorders and schizophrenia are now among the most common diseases worldwide. Sleep disorders and physical complaints for which no organic cause can be found can also be indications of a mental illness.

If in doubt, contact an expert - this can initially be the family doctor

In principle, a psychiatrist or psychotherapist can be consulted directly without the need for a referral from a family doctor. Some people find it easier to first contact their family doctor, who can then refer to further treatment offers if necessary. “For a positive course of the disease, it is very important that a diagnosis is made promptly. With suitable psychotherapy procedures and, if necessary, medication, mental illnesses are usually very treatable and often also curable, ”emphasizes the psychiatrist from Andernach. After a diagnosis has been made, it is discussed with the patient and he is fully informed. The therapy options are also discussed, with the psychiatrist trying to work out a treatment plan with the patient. The duration of therapy is disorder-specific. It can last from a few sessions to several months or even years. Serious illnesses such as psychosis, severe depression or bipolar illness may require lifelong treatment.

Mental illnesses usually have several causes, such as biological factors and psychosocial aspects. They can be caused by current experiences, past stressful life history events, by internal conflicts and interpersonal tensions, but also by changes in the brain metabolism and the brain substance. Most mental illnesses can be treated successfully.

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