Please stop labelling normal life stuff – and poor coping skills – as a “disorder”.

There is a vast difference between clinical disorders and normal mental and emotional responses to life events. So many words are being tossed around online that we are losing sight of this difference.

Words like anxiety and depression are commonplace in our language now, especially on social media. And while yes, we are indeed having a crisis in our global state of mental health, the lack of attention being paid to the terms we use is not helping.

While everyone can and will probably experience a depressive episode or two in their lifetime, relatively few people fit the criteria for a diagnosis of clinical depression.  We all experience anxiety – it is a normal response to life events and circumstances. That does not mean that half the population on Facebook has an anxiety disorder, as their words would suggest.

Using words flippantly downplays the significance of disorders & catastrophizes everyday life.

I understand that this wave of thought is being promoted and sustained by the massive amounts of doctors – General Practitioners – who are diagnosing their patients as having a mental health disorder despite their complete and utter lack of training in the field of Psychology.  If you’re one of those folks who’s been diagnosed by your GP, I am begging you to ask for a referral to a Psychologist or Psychiatrist who is actually trained in Psychology.  As part of their medical training, GP’s may only take one or two introductory psychology courses in their entire career.  They should not be diagnosing mental illness or prescribing mood-altering drugs based on a 6-minute conversation and, if you’re lucky, a 10-question questionnaire.  I also understand that this is a result of our drug culture and of the limitations of our overburdened health care system.  Regardless, we need to be aware of this in order to both protect our rights and to shift to a healthier and more supportive culture.

What can we do about this?  Take some time to research mental health issues – all the information you could ever want is out there.  Just look for reputable sources.  For psychological issues, go to people who are actually trained in Psychology.  Learn healthy coping skills from these people.  Finally, pay attention to the words that you choose to use.  On a psychological level, words can uplift us. They can help us. When used without thought or informed intention, they can harm us.

~Heidi <3