Overdiagnosis is the diagnosis of a “disease” that won’t cause symptoms or cause death during a patient’s expected lifetime. Screening for early disease forms can lead to overdiagnosis. The screening process can be life-saving in some cases, but in others, it becomes a patient trap that can result in unnecessary and worse treatment.
In overdiagnosis, a disease is correctly diagnosed, but the diagnosis is irrelevant. In some cases, a correct diagnosis may not matter because there is no treatment to be had, none is required, or none is wanted. According to some people, overdiagnosis shouldn’t be used, but overtreatment would be the more appropriate term.
What is an Overdiagnosis?
A common practice in psychiatry is to diagnose a mental disorder based only on symptoms, rather than a holistic biopsychosocial understanding of the individual, often due to the overuse of diagnostic labels derived from the DSM-5.
One of the main problems today with the DSM-5 is overdiagnosis.
Three Dangers of an Overdiagnosis
Every day at Eden by Enhance, we handle overdiagnosed mental issues impacting the lives of our clients with the utmost care. In our experience, these are the three things everyone should remember.
1. The Labels Never Go Away
Our treatment focuses on treating anxiety, depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, and PTSD, all considered lifelong conditions. A person diagnosed with one of these issues must accept that they will have to deal with these challenges for the rest of their lives since there is no cure. Individuals can learn to manage symptoms and patterns more effectively with guidance, but there is no quick fix to eliminate them.
The process of trying to convince someone who has been told they are bipolar for years that they are not actually bipolar can be challenging. If not more challenging than getting someone to reach out for help in the first place. However, by then, much of the damage has been done. Professional guidance may even be questioned, and they may regress or use maladaptive self-coping mechanisms instead.
2. Mismedication as a Result of Overdiagnosis
It’s not just treatment plans that are formed based on diagnostic labels-medication regimens are too. As a result, overdiagnosis of mental issues is a common cause of mistreatment and mis-medication.
Medicating people for issues they don’t have leads to a worsening of symptoms. Individuals may experience adverse side effects, exacerbate symptoms, or even abandon professional treatment altogether due to adverse side effects of these medications. As a result of overdiagnosis, mis-medication can do more harm than no medication at all.
3. The Social Stigmas
Mental illness overdiagnosis leads to the social stigmatization of people suffering from them. Do you know anyone who claims to be “a little OCD” because they like their stuff arranged in a particular way? Obsessive-compulsive disorder is in no way related to paying attention to details or having a set way of doing something. However, a social misperception often causes people to dismiss the difficulties of living with OCD.
Symptoms like these become the focus instead of the individual dealing with them when an individual is misdiagnosed (often based simply on symptoms). Mainstream society focuses on symptoms rather than how mental health affects everyday life.
Because of this, people who suffer from them may be viewed as different, lesser, or outsiders. Because of this, many people do not want to seek help.
How Eden by Enhance is Combatting Overdiagnosis
We at Eden by Enhance work to destigmatize mental illness, connect past trauma to present issues and emphasize holistic treatment. Our work in these areas is often concerned with turning back the damage caused by overdiagnosed or misdiagnosed mental disorders.
While we recognize the value of diagnostic labels when used responsibly, we have witnessed the detrimental effects they can have on psyches. The overdiagnosis of mental disorders can contribute to misunderstandings, misrepresentation, and widespread dissemination of negative connotations across every segment of our society.
Get Help Today!
If you suspect you or someone you love may be living with an overdiagnosis, contact us today to see how we can help you get a better understanding of your mental health.