Why You Should Never diagnose Yourself from Watching Tiktok

The internet, and social media provides entertainment and can increase awareness about many topics, but not all information given on social media sites such as TikTok is accurate. There are a growing number of individuals self-diagnosing themselves and with negative consequences to their mental, emotional, and physical health.

How Social Media increases Mental Health Awareness

For far too long, mental illness has been shrouded by stigma despite the need for more open conversations. The advent of the internet and social media broadens access to information increasing awareness and discussions on numerous topics including health and well-being. Social media can be a great platform for starting these discussions and raising awareness. Through posts, stories, and videos, people can share their personal experiences with mental illness and help others feel less alone.

In addition to increasing awareness, social media can also provide valuable information and resources about mental health. For example, TikTok has a series of videos called “mental health minute” which offer tips and advice on topics like anxiety and depression. These videos can be really helpful for people who are struggling and might not know where to turn for help.

Of course, it’s important to remember that social media is not a substitute for professional help. If you’re experiencing serious mental health difficulties, please reach out to a doctor or therapist. But if you’re just looking for some support and information, social media can be a great place to start.

Mental health awareness has increased significantly in recent years, in part due to the rise of social media. Social media platforms like TikTok have given people a space to share their mental health experiences and connect with others who might be struggling with similar issues.

Watching TikTok videos about mental health can help increase your understanding of the different conditions that exist and how they can impact people’s lives. It can also be a way to find and learn more about resources that are available to support your mental health.

Social Media can provide Education and Miseducation

We’ve all seen the videos on social media. Someone points out a group of symptoms and says, “if you have these symptoms you have XYZ” and after seeing a few of these videos, from individuals who are often not experts or qualified to diagnose, you become convinced that you, or someone you know, have condition XYZ. Maybe you’re hearing friends or family members using buzzwords such as narcissism, bipolar, ADHD, to assign meaning to their own, or another person’s behaviors, maybe even your behaviors.

While the internet and social media can be a great way to be introduced to or get information about a variety of topics from reliable sources, it is also teeming with inaccurate or misleading information. Here is the thing to remember, having symptoms that may be related to a particular mental health condition, doesn’t equal having the condition. The same is true for any health condition that impacts physical, cognitive, and affective functioning. Now don’t get me wrong, there are some experts in the field of mental health, on social media that are creating and providing great educational pieces to increase understanding and awareness of mental health and mental illness. There are plenty of reliable sources on the internet as well however, unless you are trained to diagnose and treat any health condition, the information you read or hear may only provide you with one side of the story. A symptoms list for a certain condition may not mention all of the possible symptoms, or may not include information about how common those symptoms are. In other words, you could be looking at a list of symptoms and convince yourself that you or someone you know, has a condition when you or they don’t.

Even if your symptoms are an indicator of possible mental illness or mental health concern, self-diagnosis can be harmful since some clusters of symptoms are commonly found in several different diagnoses. You may not be aware of all of the criteria that must be met for a particular condition, or of all the treatment options. If the interventions you are using are not provided by an expert, you could make your symptoms worse, or even cause new ones.

If you’re concerned about your mental health, the best thing to do is to take the information you have discovered and see a professional such as a licensed mental health provider, psychologist or psychiatrist. They can accurately diagnose, confirm if the resources you are using are evidenced based, and provide you with additional support, education, and treatment.

If you are struggling with your mental health, social media can be both a helpful resource and a trigger. It’s important to remember that not everything you see on TikTok (or other social media platforms) is representative of reality. Take breaks from watching videos about mental health if they start to feel overwhelming, and don’t hesitate to reach out for professional help if you are feeling truly lost or hopeless.

Melixa Carbonell, MA, LMHC, ADHD-CCSP, NCC is a clinical mental health provider with a private practice specializing in anxiety, ADHD, and life changes.