Being mentally ill is not trendy.
Whether you are using #OCD or overusing ‘triggered’ in YouTube comments, throwing those words around hurts those who want and need help. It makes their situation seem less severe than it is, and it lessens their credibility when they come out with their illness.
When someone says they have depression, they will likely get a response like “Everyone is depressed, just deal with it.”
Then there are those who go onto WebMD, take one symptom from every disorder they can find, and diagnose themselves with seven different disorders, thinking it will make them seem brave or unique.
This greatens the stigma and silences those with mental health disorders from speaking out, starting a vicious cycle.
If everyone lies about their mental health, it causes medical research to be unbelievably skewed, and making light of mental health leads to overdiagnoses, which leads to overprescribing, which leads to drug dependence, which leads to assuming that people with mental illness are just attention-seeking drug addicts.
ADHD is an example of this. ADHD is now a controversial diagnosis because people downplay the severity of the symptoms. Now everyone who is not a professional is trying to get their children on medication, and the doctors give it to them without question, and then that child is more likely to have a substance abuse problem.
This leads people to think that ADHD is fake, including Dr. Leon Eisenberg. In 2013, the “scientific father of ADHD” stated in his final interview that ADHD is a fictitious disease. However, in 2017, research from the ADHD Institute show scans comparing brains with ADHD to normally developed brains, and there are visual differences between the two.
Depression is another diagnosis that receives skepticism. People with depression can be viewed as melodramatic, overly sensitive or attention seeking. But depression is not just sadness. Children and adolescents may experience depression as irritability instead. To be diagnosed with major depressive disorder, one would need to show at least five of the nine symptoms for at least two weeks according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5. In addition to that, depression usually causes a change in appetite or weight of a patient, or affects their sleep or psychomotor activity.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder does not equal neat freak, germaphobe or perfectionist. The basis of OCD is having an unwanted thought and performing a sort of ritual to try to make that thought go away. Typically, “the obsessions and the compulsions are time-consuming” and do not logically go together.
Taking stories of hardship and suffering, such as these, and using them as casual jokes undermines the experiences of those who have mental illness. As an educated population, we should use more caution when discussing topics that we do not know much about. It may all seem like fun and games, but some things should not be taken too lightly.