These days, it seems like everyone’s a doctor. From nutritional advice to various diagnostic testing services online to natural remedies for everything, it’s easy to find a treatment to almost every problem online.
Sites like WebMD and HealthLine can allow you to quickly look up your symptoms to determine the most likely trigger. Self-diagnosing can be helpful in a pinch (when you need a quick way to bandage a small cut or advice on how to subside a headache), but it may be doing you more harm than good.
Here are five reasons why you might want to seek the advice of a medical professional, rather than self-diagnosing.
1. Online Credibility Can be Questionable
Sure, nerdygUrl684 on that well-established health forum has great advice on coping with depression, but you have no idea who she is. Is she really a licensed therapist? Did she really suffer from depression? And even if so, how can you be sure the natural treatment plan that worked for her will help you?
The truth is, you can’t. Every individual is different and if you’re suffering from a mental illness, working out a treatment plan with a therapist is your best course of action. They can unbiasedly assess your progress and work on goals that best fit your health goals.
The same goes for physical symptoms. Just because a so-called doctor online recommended dietary changes to improve your gut issues, doesn’t mean you should skip the doctor. You might need immediate treatment to help improve your problems, along with making nutritional changes.
2. Home Remedies Can Be Dangerous
Natural remedies are great. Many people want to avoid taking antibiotics, since they can hurt your immune system and cause other problems. And if you can avoid antibiotics and get better, that’s awesome! But don’t forget that antibiotics save lives every day and are a valid form of treatment.
This is particularly important when dealing with women’s health issues. There are many natural remedies online for yeast and other vaginal infections that can be downright scary or even painful to try out. And many of these remedies can make your problems worse or lead to new issues.
Natural remedies are great, but try working with a naturopath or physician who is open to alternative medicine, instead.
3. You Can’t Be Objective About Yourself
Many times psychological illnesses have physical components that people misdiagnose on their own. Those stomach ulcers are physical, without a doubt, but they may be linked to severe anxiety.
Your acne might be helped with topical creams from stores or your kitchen cupboard, but your might be overlooking a problem on the inside that a doctor would catch.
You can’t be objective about your own health or state of mind, no matter how logical you are. Not visiting a doctor can be severely detrimental to your health and can lead to even worse problems down the line.
4. You Can Make Yourself Sick
We’ve all hopped on WebMD and typed in our symptoms, fearing for the worse. It’s hard to find a string of symptoms that doesn’t indicate that you might have cancer or another serious disease.
Even when the odds are likely that you don’t, worrying about the threat of disease can lead you to thinking every mental or physical ailment is a sign of the worst.
That headache? Obviously a brain tumor. Your nervousness about a big interview? Crippling anxiety. That pain in your chest? You’re having a heart attack.
Constantly searching for answers to strange symptoms can lead us to believe we’re always sick or developing worse problems. Googling your symptoms can turn you into a hypochondriac and make you paranoid about every sneeze, cough, or hiccup.
5. WebMD is a Database, Not a Doctor
It’s great having access to medical information whenever you want it, but remember, WebMD and similar sites are databases with stored information. Just look at some of the symptoms of the diseases you’re looking up: headache, nausea, dizziness… they’re common symptoms for so many diseases, both mental and physical!
Talking to your doctor and allowing them to run tests, if needed, is the only way to be sure about your diagnosis and this certainty will allow you peace of mind.
Stop making yourself sick by self-diagnosing and make an appointment with your family doctor, instead.