Why Mental Illness is Not Diagnosed Correctly


I am very proud to start 2010 with a post by a guest writer, Susan White. Susan's contact details can be found in the by-line at the bottom of her article. Please do visit her link so that you can get a feel for what Susan usually writes about.

This is what Susan has to say on the crucial topic of mental illness diagnosis and I could not agree with her more:


Mental illness exists in various forms – schizophrenia, manic depressiveness, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, mania, and many other names have been given to the various kinds of afflictions that target the human brain. But no matter how severe these diseases, it’s not so much their manifestation that is worrying; rather, it’s the fact that we fail to identify and diagnose them correctly, most often until it’s too late. There are various reasons why mental illness is not correctly diagnosed, and a few common ones are:

  • It is mistaken for typical teenage (or rebellious) behavior: If your teen or tween is changing drastically in a short period of time, if there are symptoms like increased irritation, drastic mood swings, insomnia or sleeping too much, distrust of strangers and even family members, low or high energy levels, enforced loneliness, brooding, vacant stares, decreased concentration and performance at school, and so on, you’re most likely to think that it’s a stage of rebellion and non-conformance that most teenagers go through and that they’ll outgrow it sooner or later. But if it is mental illness taking root, there’s no way they’re going to grow out of it unless you get them professional help.
  • The symptoms are masked by drugs or alcohol: If the person is an alcoholic or a drug addict, the symptoms of mental illness could be perceived as a reaction to the influence of alcohol or the drugs that they have ingested. No one realizes that it is a form of mental illness until it’s too late. They believe that the person has overdosed and is hallucinating or behaving irrationally because they are high from the addictive substance.
  • Refusal to accept that it is mental illness: Some people are scared of the prejudice that society has towards mental illness and the people who suffer from them. And so they refuse to believe that their loved one could be similarly affected. They are worried about the stigma that is attached to mental afflictions rather than the long term harmful consequences that the illness could have on their loved one, and this is why they delay and defer getting them tested and treated for the disease.
  • Lack of awareness: And finally, not many people are aware of the symptoms of mental illness. If a person is depressed, they think that all they have to do is “snap out of it” like everyone else and not continue to live in their own world, little realizing that the affected person has no control over the way they behave. They don’t realize the existence of mental illnesses and attribute any abnormal or weird behavior to eccentricity on the part of the affected person.

The sooner mental illness is treated, the better the chances of the affected person leading a normal life, so if you think your loved one may be suffering, get them professional help at once.  


This post is written by Susan White, who writes on the topic of Becoming a Radiologist . She welcomes your comments at her email id:susan.white33@gmail.com .

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