Diagnose Me

There’s someone in my life who is starting to dig deeper into their neurodivergence. Whatever diagnosis might fit–adult ADHD, bipolar II, something else–they want it. They want it so they can try associated treatments that haven’t been available to them before. They want new items to add to the list of things that might help them, a list that is all they have to cling to on some hard days. They want to get at what might be standing in the way of doing what they need to do to improve their other conditions.

When I was taking psychopharmacology in grad school, many of my fellow students had a lot of negative feelings about diagnosis in mental health. They didn’t like the idea of putting people into boxes. They felt certain diagnoses were given too freely and caused more harm than good. And both of these things are valid concerns.

But here’s my own experience–the right diagnosis was life-changing for me. Until I was diagnosed with bipolar II, I spent more than a decade being treated with medicines that were ineffective at best and dangerous at worst (for example, many antidepressants have unfortunate effects on a bipolar person). After being diagnosed, I started to be treated with medicines that, while they didn’t fix everything, were far more on target. Having the diagnosis also gave me a language for the things I had been experiencing and made them a little less scary. It validated what I’d been going through and gave more opportunities to seek new methods of treatment. It empowered me.

I hope this new seeker finds a way to get the screenings and evaluation they need (no easy task, these days, if you aren’t rich). I celebrate the insight they’ve reached about themselves and their desire to address it. And I pray that diagnosis will be a useful tool for them; one that opens doors.

2 thoughts on “Diagnose Me

  1. I can completely empathize with them. I just spent a mini fortune getting professionally evaluated because I knew something “more” was wrong with me and without knowing what’s broken, you don’t know how to ‘fix it’. Evaluations need to be more assessable and affordable though, because not everyone has a savings or is willing to deplete their savings for the sake of their mental health.

  2. Diagnosis of mental states is pivotal for understanding the mechanisms underlying psychiatric disorders. I believe that this is unrightly understood and should be addressed to the public as well. If the medical community is to address this issue in the first place, it should be considered a question of the nature and nature of mental health care . Mental disorders are complex, multifaceted and often present as conditions that can neither be put neatly into a category nor can we sacrifice all categories. Hence I disagree with colleagues who will claim we must abandon the DSM. I really appreciate your post and it helps the community as a whole. It clarifies the role of psychiatry as an important, and useful framework. My views are those of the author and their authors.

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