‘Things I experience due to autism’ and ‘How to know if you have autism’. TikTok is full of such videos. What impact does that have? Experts are clear: ‘If someone labels themselves, it can have negative consequences.’
It is becoming increasingly common these days to find videos and podcasts on social media platforms such as TikTok where people self-diagnose themselves with mental health conditions such as autism, ADHD, and depression. This trend is commonly known as self-diagnosis. However, it is not always clear whether the creators of this content have the appropriate knowledge and experience to make such diagnoses, or if they are speaking from personal experience or knowledge. Additionally, the information they provide can often be vague and polarizing, making it difficult to obtain a nuanced understanding.
The danger of self-diagnosis on social media is that people may end up with an incorrect diagnosis and seek out a treatment that is ineffective or even harmful. Furthermore, individuals may incorrectly assign themselves to a category or classification and recklessly disclose this information publicly, which can have negative consequences. This can lead to negative self-image and confidence, hindering the effective management of conditions such as autism. In extreme cases, it can even lead to mental health issues that are more severe than the initial condition that an individual identified with after viewing content on social media.
Although social media and online communities can provide both nuanced and polarizing messages, it can be challenging for most people to navigate them effectively. Therefore, it is essential to be critical when viewing content on social media and to seek information from reliable sources. It is also important to remember that there are channels within social media and communities that do provide nuanced information, but these channels may require a little more searching. Companies behind online communities often prioritize content that attracts many viewers and advertising revenue over information that is well-founded, targeted, and considers the vulnerability of individuals seeking answers to life questions, where self-diagnosis may or may not be a suitable response.