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Is There Ever Such A Thing As A ‘Good’ Self Diagnosis?

With all of us now having easier access to medical information than we ever have before, it’s hardly surprising that we fancy ourselves as budding doctors. Unfortunately, with some of us making the mistake of diagnosing a serious condition like cancer based on symptoms like headaches alone, it’s hard to tell whether or not there’s such a thing as a ‘good’ self-diagnosis right now. 

That said, with patients also sometimes using self-diagnosis as leverage to push for the recognition of issues that are otherwise hard to spot, this isn’t the black and white issue it might seem. In fact, there’s a strong argument for the fact that good self-diagnosis does exist, and we’re going to consider what it looks like.

Seeking reliable sources

Often, issues with self-diagnosis arise when individuals diagnose a serious condition like breast cancer based on a few unprofessional opinions voiced across forums like Reddit. This is by no means an effective form of diagnosis and can be undeniably harmful. HOWEVER, alternatively seeking information about the same condition from trusted, location-dependent (most locations offer different treatments, etc.) resources like this Yale Medicine breast cancer fact sheet can at least ensure a professional oversight with regards to conditions, any symptoms to look out for, and also practical advice when it comes to treatment plans and steps to take moving forward. This can make a huge difference to the accuracy, and ultimate usefulness, that self-diagnosis offers, providing not just ill-thought suggestions, but a realistic plan of action. 

Always research broadly

‘Seeking a second opinion’ is a common medical move, but when it comes to self-diagnosis, it’s astounding how much we can get stuck on one opinion or symptom and leave it at that. The reality is, though, that our lack of medical knowledge especially highlights our need to read widely before even thinking about settling on a suspected diagnosis. Only then can we begin to form a true picture of things like symptoms and risks, helping us to understand more realistically, and with a far more nuanced approach to the matter, whether or not a condition sounds like it might match our experiences. 


Take your research to a medical professional

It’s also vital to note that NO amount of self-diagnosis can or should EVER replace the value of a check-up from a medical professional. As such, while gaining a broad overview of a condition can help you to recognize your symptoms or even highlight otherwise overlooked signs to your doctor, you should never skip that all-important appointment altogether. After all, this is the only viable way to settle on treatment plans, and find out once and for all whether you do have a condition or not. 

Diagnosing yourself will never be a good thing if you trust unreliable sources and get easily overwhelmed. But, if you’re simply wondering whether a symptom means anything or not, or if you’re waiting on an already booked healthcare appointment, then well-thought research with a level-headed approach might not always be such bad news after all. 


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