Self-diagnosing anxiety, depression 'harmful', says expert

Self-diagnosing anxiety and depression can be harmful because it is subjective and may prevent appropriate treatment, a mental health professional has said.

(Screencap from Depression Anxiety Stress Scale)

A psychological assessment tool recently went viral as many people tried taking the test and sharing their results on social media.

University of Santo Tomas Psychology professor and MentalHealthPH Learning and Development Head JB Bacaoco sounded the alarm on "harmful" psychological tests found on the Internet.

Bacaoco said psychological tests are helpful if used properly and conducted under the supervision of a psychologist or a psychometrician and the results are interpreted by a psychologist.

"It is difficult to make a diagnosis based on a single test alone, so a holistic approach must be considered in trying to make a diagnosis and in making sense of someone's mental health," Bacaoco told Manila Bulletin.

"Self-diagnosis can be harmful because it is subjective and the person might not have the necessary expertise," he added, cautioning that self-diagnosis may hinder individuals from getting the appropriate psychological intervention and necessary treatment.

Advocacy group MentalHealthPH likewise cautioned social media users against accepting the results of such online tests and urged those who are experiencing distress to seek professional help.

The group said there are centers offering free online psychological services and online telecounseling, such as the National Center for Mental Health and the Philippine Red Cross.

Healthy ways to manage stress and anxiety

Amid trying times, Bacaoco suggests that taking care of oneself helps manage stress and anxiety.

"Self-care is one way to take care of our mental health and can help us manage stress and anxiety caused by the current situation which is the pandemic. Self-care is a form of healthy activity that can help boost our mood, help us regulate our emotions, and identify our physical and psychological needs," he said.

Bacaoco also advised to maintain a consistent sleeping pattern, take a break from work or school if needed, work out, and meditate.

"You just have to discover which self-care activity works for you," he said.

"Also, please keep in mind that it is okay to seek professional help. When you experience distress or dysfunction in your daily routine, you may consult a mental health professional to help you make sense of your experience and to guide you in looking for appropriate mental health interventions that can help you manage your situation," Bacaoco said.