Does it seem to you like almost everyone has some kind of psychological disorder these days?
It seems like everywhere we go, we are faced with other peoples’ anxiety; having conversations like “oh yeah, that’s just my OCD”; or “that just makes me so depressed”.But is this genuine? Are there really so many more people with clinically diagnosed psychological disorders? And if we don’t have one, is there something wrong with us?
There are so many factors that go into this. First, to put it simply, there are absolutely more people now with diagnoses than in previous years (or generations). Why? Because there is so much more awareness around these issues now (think: RUOK? Day). Second, more people are more inclined to seek help now than ever before. This is due to a number of issues, namely due to the transition from a culture of “suck it up” and more toward “let’s deal with this”. With a greater awareness and more open conversation around psychological disorders, and an increased willingness to seek help for them, naturally the rate of diagnosis will rise. That being the case, does everyone who experiences anxiety, low mood, fatigue or concentration difficulties have a disorder? This is where things get murky.
Since we are humans and not robots, we are designed to experience the full range of emotions, whether we like it or not. Even when it doesn’t feel very nice, in times of stress we are supposed to feel anxious. When things don’t go to plan we are supposed to feel frustration and disappointment. In times of joy we are supposed to feel excitement. Therefore, in periods of ongoing and significant stress we would expect someone to feel ongoing anxiety and potentially low mood. This doesn’t necessarily qualify for an anxiety or depressive disorder. Any psychological disorder requires that a specific list of symptoms are met over a period of time. The difference between normal human responses and pathology lies with the impact it has on our lives. Are we able to feel other emotions like contentment or joy? Are we able to continue to function in our work, education and social lives? Or have the unpleasant feelings persisted long after the initial trigger has come and gone? Are those feelings causing us to engage in behaviours that we wouldn’t otherwise, in order to escape them? If this is the case, then it may be that a diagnosis and intensive support is warranted.
Regardless of whether someone is experiencing a psychological disorder; sub-threshold symptoms of a disorder; or more general difficulties navigating a speed bump in their life; there is always an option for support.We don’t need to (nor should we!) wait until we can no longer function to reach out for support.
If you are interested in discussing any of the points further, we would be more than happy to hear from you. Feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will answer any questions you may have.