The Trouble is, No one Sees Their Own Problems
It isn’t all that often that people realize that they have a mental health lacking, and find help. Many times the reason believably is, that telling a healthy mind and a troubled mind apart can be really challenging. It isn’t generally as clear as seeing someone who likes to plant himself in the middle of the street and rave away. If you have a serious case of stage fright, do you have social anxiety disorder, or are you only someone with a basic case of the butterflies? If you are a little off your game and blue, are you just unhappy for regular causes, or do you have a propensity to let things overwhelm you, as people with depression are known to do? And here is the problem then; there are no infallible tests for mental problems, generally speaking, the way they exist for, say, the influenza.
For this reason, people who are affected can without trouble, defend the way they are, if they so wish; and friends and family can often ignore signs, rejecting them as just regular reactions to life events. How do the doctors get it right so often then? An orderly approach is often the solution. Psychiatrists have extensive insights into what symptoms there are, and how to cross-reference them with other events in a patient’s life. For example, the knowledge that you have an unusual involvement in planning for every little thing that is to happen in your day, might look to some like a little and unremarkable preoccupation. A psychiatrist might think to ask you if you find that this excessive planning gets in the way of your sleep and leaves you feeling not able to concentrate. He might come to believe then that this comes from depression. The fact that you describe all these problems to him in a somewhat breathless style, might point to the possibility that your depression comes from an anxiety disorder.
While friends and family are often very important resources that your psychiatrist can tap to put his finger on your troubles, it is often difficult for those very friends and members of your family to do it themselves. Psychiatrists’ insight comes from resources like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that cross-references symptoms that usually occur together, like the combination afflictions of anxiety and depression. But lay person knowledge of what really constitutes a mental problem mainly comes from media reporting and the like. Psychiatry is a quickly evolving science that regularly manipulates and moves things around. The depression that comes with pre-menstrual syndrome or PMS, for instance, is about to be appended to the manual as a special condition known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder. The most valuable tool to grant people who have personal challenges is to let them see that summoning a professional is always superior to the DIY approach.