Don’t Ask the Internet: 3 Mental Health Myths


The internet allows us to answer any question, anytime of the day or night. Or does it? Anyone who’s perused the web’s medical pages knows that sometimes too much information can be worse than none at all, unduly causing stress and anxiety. Medical information is great, because it allows us to be informed when we see our doctors, but it can also cause unrelenting stress for the hypochondriac or frightened parent. When it comes to personal issues like your mental health, you’re best off speaking to a real medical professional, rather than trying to self-diagnose (and self-treat) your issues. Here are three common myths about mental health you should know are bunk, even if you have no one to ask.


  1. Your genes determine your mental health. Whether or not you have a mental health condition is already predetermined by your genes, right? Although this perception is common and often seems to be supported by hereditary aspects of some mental health conditions, it’s not always so cut and dry. The truth is that we all carry some risk for developing a mental health condition and this innate risk is then exacerbated or diminished throughout your life based on your environment and experiences. It’s true that the genes you’re born with ultimately impact your mental health, but the relationship between mental health issues manifesting or not and how they manifest is much more nuanced than an anonymous online quiz can handle.


  1. Medication always helps. For many people living with one or a combination of mental health conditions, medication can improve their daily lives and functioning. But despite the constant deluge of advertisements from pharmaceutical companies, not everyone will benefit from or even needs medication. If you or someone you know is currently trying to manage an acute or chronic mental health condition, talk with them to make sure they’re being offered more than just a pill to make sense of their condition and improve their quality of life. Talk therapies and holistic practices can have a tremendous positive impact, at times making medication unnecessary.


  1. You have it or you don’t. We make sense of the world by fitting everything into categories – including our mental health. When people can define the boundaries between categories and understand which “side” they’re on, they feel safe. Unfortunately, mental health does not fit neatly into yes-or-no distinctions. The same mental health condition can be manifested in one person one way and completely differently for another, making categorization difficult. Mental health or illness is not as clear and obvious as a cut on the finger. Diagnosis needs to be done by professionals.


If you or someone you know is seriously concerned that they may be developing a mental health condition, find an appropriate medical professional to talk to who can either refer you to a therapist or soothe your doubts for good. Either way you’ll get a lot more out of a trip to the doctor than a home visit from Dr. Google.