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  • Writer's pictureFootsteps Counseling

2% or less: Is psychiatric diagnosis right for me?

What's the point of getting a diagnosis?

Stop. Freeze. Do not enter. Do not pass Go without collecting $200.

This isn't advice. I'm not here to suggest that you're doing anything right, wrong, or sideways. What you're about to read is one therapist's opinion on the concept of diagnosis. And we all know, opinions are like buttholes….

Why get a diagnosis? For me, the answer is, of course, complicated.

Here are some easy reasons you WOULD get a psychiatric diagnosis:

  1. You're seeking therapy using your insurance coverage, which requires your therapist to diagnose you so insurance will pay the bill.

  2. You have a condition, such as ADHD, that requires a formal diagnosis so that you can receive medication to help reduce symptoms.

  3. You, like me, thrive with having "answers" or "explanations" to what is going on with you.


Caveat: In my last post I talked about owning the label of Chronically Ill Therapist. I spent over a year seeking treatment for intense pain. It took several doctors, countless tests, and an organized spreadsheet created by a neurotic Virgo (me) for a doctor to finally explain what I am experiencing. Personally, until someone could give it a label, I questioned whether I was crazy, if my pain was real, and if I would ever feel better. Having a label and a plan of attack helped me take some of my power back.


Like the ingredients list on a package, a diagnosis helps myself and others understand what's going on inside. For some, a mental health diagnosis might be the first thing listed. For others, it might fall behind "Contains 2% or less of...."

Here are some reasons you WOULD NOT get a diagnosis:

  1. You do not feel having the suspected label confirmed would change anything. Diagnoses like Major Depression do not necessarily change how any practitioner would treat your symptoms. With or without the label, people who are experiencing symptoms of depression are commonly treated with the same types of medication.

  2. Your career or lifestyle does not support a diagnosis. I often hear this from people with security clearance, military careers, or people in the public eye.

  3. You simply do not want any label defining you in any way.

Lastly, I must acknowledge that treating psychological conditions with medication is a relatively new science. To say that we get it right all the time is absurd, especially because many diagnoses meld into each other and it is hard to ever be 100% certain. Add to that that our manual for diagnosis, the DSM-V, was historically written by white men in response to conditions based on western-centric culture and, yeah. We have a ways to go.

Cute monster winking and encouraging reader, "you do you."

In the end, sometimes a diagnosis is helpful, sometimes not. I encourage everyone to consider all the angles and make the best choice for your individual life.

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