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Remember the days when you used to go to a doctor or a psychiatrist and actually get a firm diagnosis?

Perhaps it is just me but that just doesn’t seem to happen any more does it?

Now I have to be totally honest here and say that I really do believe that part of the reason for doctors and even psychiatrists being reluctant to give a clear diagnosis is the modern-day phenomenon that is an ambulance-chasing penchant for litigation.

I truly believe that where as in the past you could go to a doctor or psychiatrist and expect to get a diagnosis nowadays the only things you can be sure of getting is a bill and a bunch of pills.

Of course when it comes to the world of psychiatry and mental health I do think there is truth to the argument that actually a lot of the difficulty in getting a clear diagnosis is that actually there are too many over-lapping symptoms between all the different illnesses, syndromes, disorders and conditions.

Likewise there are so many differing schools of thoughts and so many new and as yet misunderstood (or not yet fully understood) conditions which means that making a very clear diagnosis seems very difficult and indeed seems to result in many of us being entered into some sort of mental health UNlucky dip nowadays.

I wonder how many of you, the readers, have had a number of differing (sometimes seemingly conflicting) diagnoses or suggestions concerning your mental health over the years?

I certainly know I have and that these include..

Depression, Clinical Depression, Depression with Paranoia, Depression with Schizophrenia, Depression with Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar Disorder or Manic Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Multiple Personality Disorder or Dissociative Identity Disorder, Aspergers, Psychosis, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Nightmare Disorder,  Social Anxiety or Social Phobia. Suicidal Ideation, Suicidal Ideology, Suicidal Tendencies.

Now a cursory glance through that list by anyone with just a rudimentary knowledge of mental health will understand the close proximity of some of those disorders and conditions to each other and that, I think, in part illustrates what I was said earlier about the over-lapping symptoms.

But the question remains does this explain what seems to be a reluctance on the part of mental health practitioners to make a clear diagnosis or is it indeed that litigation/ambulance chasing mentality that I spoke of earlier.

Of course there is always the argument and the consideration that part of the motivation for this ambulance-chasing culture arises from the seemingly heartless and dis-compassionate money-orientated world of medical/health insurance and HMO’s.

More importantly I think we need to ask the question where does all of this leave the us as the patient?

Certainly a huge part of illness  or wellness management (depending on what term you prefer) is that of understanding your condition(s), how it or they affect you and developing management or coping techniques in response to these.

Indeed isn’t this, aren’t many, blogs and websites designed with the specific or primary purpose of affording additional information and resources for those who suffer the same or similar conditions in order to help them manage their illnesses or conditions better?

How can a sufferer access these kinds of resources if they don’t even know what condition they actually have and thus don’t know where to look?  Let’s be totally honest here, not knowing what condition you have can lead to a lot of internet trawling and that is not always a good idea.

When it comes to the question I posed in the title of this piece “Are our mental health practitioners committed to a policy of non-committal?” I regrettably have to answer yes I think they are.  BUT I think we have to both…

a) understand that part of this is due to the relative infancy and nature of the field that they work in, and

b) accept that partly that is our own fault for buying into and perpetuating this culture and thus the fear of litigation that they have to consider.