What’s With The Armchair Psychiatrists?
When it comes to Psychiatry and Mental health, everyone and their neighbour is a self-proclaimed expert. More often than not, this unsolicited advice comes from people who probably haven’t read a word of biology since they were fifteen.
And then, there is the internet.
If you tried to look up the side effects of your prescription medication, the internet would suggest that you’re better off living with a heart disease than suffering its horrible side effects. You’ll find an army of armchair experts, ready to tear down any and every authentic medical advice on every forum that gives them a voice. But while as a society we know better than to tell a diabetic that their insulin shots are not good for them and are really just going to make their condition worse, we aren’t quite there with mental illnesses yet.
There is enough stigma about mental health to go around the world twice. The WHO reports that nearly 5 crore Indians suffer from depression – this is not even taking into account the huge spectrum of mental disorders. Over half of this population never seeks help. Every 40 seconds, one person commits suicide in India. We are faced with a serious health crisis – an epidemic – that medical science has evolved to cure and control. We, however, have not evolved proportionally.
When someone seeks help for their mental illness, more often than not it is the result of being victorious in an exhausting battle within them. And in the case that someone does manage to reach out for help, they’re often told to “suck it up” or “it’s no big deal” or “maybe you just need a vacation”.
Imagine, then, if after overcoming all of this, and finally finding the courage to walk into a Psychiatrist’s clinic and getting the appropriate medical attention.
Imagine, then, opening up to someone about their struggle, and having finding their decision to take care of their health being dismissed as weak or an exaggeration.
If you have ever been on the receiving end of this as a patient, you must remember that the only expert you are in contact with about your mental health is your Psychiatrist. While advice to fix yourself an exercise regime or a diet plan is genuine and helpful, everyone’s mental health conditions are unique. Your Psychiatrist understands this, and will give you recommendations best suited for your condition. The treatment you receive is clinically tested and proven to be effective, and is far more reliable than personal anecdotes.
While criticism of this nature can certainly be overbearing, it is important to remind yourself why you chose to seek help in the first place. It is important to be patient with yourself and allow your treatment time, as recovery is a slow but steady process. Sticking by your Psychiatrist’s advice, believing in your decision and disregarding unsolicited, amateur recommendations is the best road to recovery.
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