This original article was first published here: The 10 Misconceptions About Psychiatry That Can Be Harmful
Psychiatry has long been subject to criticism and debate. Back in the 1960s, a movement was launched to fix loopholes in the existing mental health practices. It was a healthy, constructive movement then, aiming at larger than life goals. Today, the very core of this constructive movement has been shaken, depriving patients of the benefits and hurting them.
This is the question we will raise today, and see if this anti-psychiatry movement is doing patients more harm than good. We will try to address the universal misconceptions you also might have regarding mental health and provide you satiable responses.
1. Medicines for treating psychiatric disorders are harmful
This is a false impression most people have. They believe in the myth that psychiatrist meds are harmful. This notion fuels their anti-psychiatry sentiments, hindering their way to seek mental help even if they need it.
All medical treatments have some side effects; surgeries, medications, physical exercises. So psychiatry is no different. In medicine, patients need to understand the risk-benefit, in terms of prediction without treatment.
2. Psychiatrists make the diagnosis based on a checklist
This is another misconception that nearly everyone feels strongly about, which is nothing but a common myth. The diagnosis psychiatrists make are based upon solid interventions, examinations, interviews, and patient history. Sometimes to rule out certain possibilities, the psychiatrist needs to make use of the DSM; Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is not a bible of psychiatry. It is a rough guide that is constantly under revision.
3. Mental illness doesn’t exist
Men stigmatize mental health illness; therefore they play the game safe and deny its very existence. The boundaries of physical and mental disorders are very fuzzy and at times the demarcation is very tough. Mental health issues aren’t gender-specific. Women are considered the weaker sex, but men aren’t prone either. They need help in every such situation without any discrimination.
4. I can Google my symptoms and find a cure for myself
For most men, visiting a psychiatrist is a daunting task. They are easy critics because they have a bone to pick. They take the easier way out by doing research on the internet, reading blogs, opinion articles, books, social media debates and try to figure out the solution for their issues.
Well, if it had been that easier, there wouldn’t be a surge in mental health illnesses. The lay public often integrates scientific research with online research. As the author Dan Brown cautioned, Google is not a synonym for medical research.
5. Psychiatrists prefer pills over skills
Many men deter their visit to a psychiatrist because they think the psychiatrist will prescribe those loads of medicines. Over-diagnosis and over-prescribing cannot be overruled, keeping in consideration insurance disbursements and the incentives of the BIG PHARMA.
Ethical psychiatrists are trained and learned, who prefer skills to treat patient’s issues. They preach and practice this notion religiously. They assist the patients in their healing process. They are watchful about over-diagnosis and over-treatment. Rather they are specifically patient-centred and their findings are evidence-based.
6. Psychiatry is for crazy people
It isn’t necessary that psychiatry deals with crazy people. They do see people with mental disorders. It’s the chemical imbalances within the brain that needs to be addressed. And it’s not crazy, it’s perfectly normal to undergo them. And you don’t necessarily need to have any mental disorder/illness to see a psychiatrist.
7. I can count on my GP to fix my issues
Many men dunk the need to see a psychiatrist by putting forth this suggestion. This can’t happen in a million years as your GP hasn’t been trained in this aspect.
Psychiatrists are doctors who have spent more than a decade in school learning and practising their subject. And you can’t invalidate them. Your GP might be a very competent fellow where your physical well-being is concerned, but he surely can’t handle mental health issues.
8. Visiting a psychiatrist will label me as sick
Another nail that anti psychiatrists fix in the coffin is that they don’t want to be labelled as sick. Nobody wants to be labelled sick.
You need to overcome this thought because visiting a psychiatrist will enable you to open up about your problems and seek help. This will pave way for you to progress rather than stay muted about what is bothering you. Having someone to whom you can talk to has tremendous positive effects. And this is far from being labelled sick.
Nowadays, many psychiatrists have their clinics discreetly located. They go out of the way in ensuring patient privacy to curb these concerns.
9. Seeking help will make me seem weak
Now that is a direct attack on male chauvinism. Most men think this way, and they aren’t to be blamed for this. We have all heard the phrase, man up, where we don’t allow men to be human and receptive to emotions. Stripping them of their emotions, makes them suffer on mental health grounds, paving way for anti-psychiatry.
Seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but they need to be applauded. It’s not an easy way out. You are trying to channel a path for yourself for liberating your mind.
10. I had a stable life till now, so why do I need to see a psychiatrist
Having a stable childhood, free from any trauma is indeed a blessing in disguise. You need to understand that mental issues creep in long before you are born. They do that regularly, without making a noise. And seeking help to identify those nooks is an approach towards a sound mental health base. There are many things that can disrupt your health patterns, and your psychiatrist will assist you in rectifying them.
Though you may have several perceptions to support your anti-psychiatry views, be mindful that these will do you more harm than good. If you would like more why anti-psychiatry views are not helpful there is some good info at BetterHelp.
Your health is what should matter to you most, and seeking professional help in addressing issues, is something that everyone should be proud of.
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