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How Important is a Diagnosis?

Discussion in 'General' started by bob, Jul 30, 2007.

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  1. bob

    bob Member

    I have been to a see a psychiatrist twice and she wouldn't give me any kind of diagnosis other than that I have an anxiety disorder. She prescribed me Zyprexa 2.5mg and referred me for CBT, which I should be starting shortly. The Zyprexa helps my anxiety. I have also started taking omega 3 supplements to help with brain function.

    I know I have PTSD. I have all the symptoms - nightmares, exaggerated startle response, poor concentration and memory, insomnia, anxiety, avoidance, etc. I feel that having suffered with this for over 10 years that I deserve a diagnosis.

    My question is, how important is a diagnosis for you, and how long did it take you get one, if at all? Am I right to think I deserve a diagnosis, or should I not get too hung up on it?
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  3. Claire

    Claire Well-Known Member

    Hello Bob, I dont think it's that important to me. Its just a label. I was told by the doctor, my therapist and a psychiatrist.

    Why is it important to you? Is not having a diagnosis holding you back?

  4. brainless_twit

    brainless_twit New Member

    I will answer your question both as a mental health professional and as a person with PTSD, bob.

    As a professional - Diagnoses are necessary for insurance billing and to document the interventions used with a patient. However, there can be danger in applying a "label" to a person. What I see as PTSD may be an attachment disorder, adjustment disorder, personality disorder, depression, anxiety, or psychosis to someone else. If a person goes to several different professionals, s/he could end up with "alphabet soup" due to differences in perception. It can be very damaging to one's self-esteem to think everything in the world is wrong! Sometimes a professional knows all the symptoms a person is experiencing but doesn't want to make a diagnosis until s/he is able to rule out other things.

    As a person with PTSD - It has been very helpful to me to know that I have PTSD. When I was diagnosed in 1996, my parents were told but I wasn't (for many of the reasons I mentioned above). There were times I thought I was losing my mind because no one ever explained to me that the voices I heard were flashbacks or why I woke up screaming in the middle of the night. When my mom happened to mention a few years later that I was diagnosed with PTSD, I was able to look it up and get information that explained all the things I experience. I was able to find this forum and talk to people who are dealing with the same symptoms. I find it much easier to cope when I know what I'm coping with, if that makes sense.
  5. She Cat

    She Cat Policy Enforcement Banned Premium Member Sponsor $100+


    I think that for me....Knowing finally not only made sense, but it helped me to understand that I could do something about it. So I understand what you are saying... Even though it's a "Label" it also gives us something to hold on to. Something that explains why, we are as we are. It explains things and make it easier for us to accept...

    Knowing if you have PTSD would help you to work toward an end. Not knowing would cause you to have more anxiety about what you might have.......or might not have....

    I think that I would feel like you if I was in the same position. I wasn't Dx'ed until I was 41, before that I was labeled an Juvenile Delinquent and put away in a detention center, later I was Dx'ed as having Social Anxiety Disorder, and again as having G.A.D and Seasonal affective disorder. Then DX'ed as having Chronic depression. At age 41 I was finally Dx'ed as PTSD... Light bulbs went off, things made sense, and I finally decided to get my butt going on getting healthy.... It's been a challenge to say the least, and I have fallen from grace a few times, but I get back up and move forward....

    You will too.......Keep fighting till you get healthy...

  6. Lisa

    Lisa Well-Known Member

    Here is someone who is not currently diagnosed by a Psychiatrist... however a psychologist and 2 therapists have independently told me and I fit the criteria to a T. The only reason I don't have the diagnosis from a Psychiatrist, is because I don't have one. When I did, I didn't know I had PTSD and was not very trusting of them.

    Do I think having the diagnosis would benefit me personally? No. If anything having the label could only complicate my life further unecessarily.

    As I am in England, I don't have health insurance and suchlike issues, as we have the NHS. I'm a student so currently it is convenient, because if I was working, I would probably need a diagnosis for being off work. So there are practical issues that diagnoses are important for, but I'm lucky in that these don't affect me at the moment.

    Do I think finding that I fit the diagnostic criteria helps? Yes. It was one of the best things I have ever discovered... that what I was going through was not abnormal and unusual. That I'm not a 'lost cause', plenty of people suffer exactly the same way (and now I can talk to those and feel less isolated), plenty of professionals are dealing with it on a daily basis, plenty of research is going into PTSD and services and treatments are getting better. If I need to I can now say 'I have been told that I have PTSD'. I may not be officially diagnosed, but I don't need to be right now.

    If I had to have the diagnosis to get treatments, I would then want the diagnosis though. At the moment, I am working with a therapist who is using techniques that are used in treating PTSD so I feel I am being treated for PTSD and am hopeful.

    Having the name to put to my problems has helped but for making me feel less alone and knowing what to research and read to help myself.

    However... one thing I will say is... if you are seeing a Psychiatrist, it is not uncommon at all that PTSD is not diagnosed, and those suffering with PTSD end up with multiple diagnoses or misdiagnoses altogether...and that is a dangerous thing when we are playing with chemicals and the brain, and effectively may not help a person much in the long run.

    If you suffer with PTSD, you should be treated for it. It is not the same as any other diagnoses. It may have anxiety in it as a symptom... but treating anxiety alone will not cure some of the other symptoms of PTSD.

    It is common in PTSD sufferers to go through several therapies and treatments which are geared for different problems and not PTSD specialised, and for the sufferers to not get very far. So in that respect, when dealing with Psychiatry and treatment, I do think it's important to have the problem recognised, in order to treat it. Otherwise the treatment may not be appropriate or adequate. If a diagnosis is needed for that, then I would say that is paramount.
  7. pandora

    pandora I'm a VIP

    PTSD made so much more sense to me. My doctor once wrote attatchment disorder.like WTF? From what..made no sense at all, PTSD, now that is me.
  8. anthony

    anthony Silently Watching Founder

    I believe BT really summed it up quite perfectly. It really is a two fold effect, though I do believe knowing is far better than not knowing.

    What your describing here though Bob is that your shrink has given you a diagnosis of anxiety disorder, which is an actual diagnosis, along with a few other variations. PTSD is merely the worst, where they can look at you and know the difference between anxiety and PTSD.

    Do you have PTSD? Even doctors take a certain guess at it without an MRI in front of them, as that is the only conclusive way to tell. They do get good at it though if experienced. Maybe you need to see a trauma specialist, and if they say you also have anxiety disorder, then that is what you would have, and not PTSD itself.

    Your trying to look at syptoms, and most of the symptoms for PTSD are the same for anxiety disorder itself, being that stress causes the same symptomatic repercussions. PTSD differs not only in the first two criteria which must be met, but more the extent of the symptoms themselves. Again, a shrink with any experience can usually tell the difference between a person with anxiety disorder vs. PTSD (which is a type of anxiety disorder). Seek a second opinion, and if both are saying the same thing, then maybe you need to focus that you are curable, and getting yourself healed quickly. If the second opinion comes back saying PTSD, then you need to seek another opinion to clarify.

    All doctors are not created equal, far from it. You need to seek those who specialise in trauma, as they will be able to provide a much more accurate diagnosis for you.

    Maybe your shrink knows you have PTSD, but also knows as BT above stated, it can be damaging to know. Lots of maybe's, all of which are only doing you damage, as they do. Seek more information from your specialists, get second opinions if needed, and if they all come back with the same thing, then accept maybe you just have severe anxiety which is treatable, not incurable. I'd be happy with that.
  9. bob

    bob Member

    Thanks for the replies. My shrink doesn't specialise in trauma, she specialises in other things (depression, work related stress, alcohol problems and bereavement). She didn't actually give me a diagnosis as such, I think her words were "you have problems with anxiety".

    I have read a lot about PTSD and other anxiety disorders, and PTSD is the label that seems to match closest with my symptoms.

    As a bit of background, I was bullied in and out of school and by my older sister. Kids at school used me as a punchbag and called me all sorts of names. They used to wait for me outside school and kick me off my bike and beat me up. I got into trouble at school for misbehaving and the headmaster used to scream and yell at me. I was unable to tell anyone about the bullying and I coped with it by shutting myself away in my room. My sister hit me, called me names and made up stories to get me into trouble. My parents always believed her, she was the favourite. My parents abused me emotionally, as much by emotional neglect as by positive emotional abuse. My mother is a narcissist and incapable of showing love. She was hospitalised with post natal depression after I was born, and I never formed an emotional attachment to her. My father was hard on me and used to call me "useless" and a "waste of space". They used to argue a lot and they both used to hit me on occasion, sometimes they would come into my room and go ballistic and start punching me. I also suffered a number of physical assaults and muggings as a teenager including being beaten up by two police officers being attacked with a big spanner, needing stitches in my head. I have recurring nightmares where I am screaming at my parents and punching and kicking them, trying to get them to listen to me. I sometimes wake up screaming and swearing. To this day I have a great deal of difficultly expressing my feelings verbally and tend to let others walk all over me. You can probably see why I feel I deserve a diagnosis.

    I have been struggling with PTSD-like symptoms for over 10 years. I never really knew what was wrong until I started reading about PTSD and I knew straight away that's what I have. I have been diagnoses with depression and anxiety a number of times, and have been on several different kinds of anti-depressants. I have struggled to explain myself to a number of different specialists but I have never seemed to get a satisfactory response. I have found the whole process very frustrating.

    I'm not really sure where to go from here, my sessions with the psychiatrist are being covered by health insurance. I'm not sure if they will cover a second opinion with another one. I am also on a waiting list to see an NHS specialist, but I have been waiting for over 18 months. Maybe I should call a trauma specialist and talk it over briefly with them.

    Thanks for listening.
  10. becvan

    becvan Queen of the Blunt! Premium Member

    Personally, I think it's very important. There is a difference between having something curable and having something non-curable. That difference can cause a lot of useless frustration when you think you can fix it.. but really you need to learn how to manage it! It's like banging your head against the wall.

    Also, I believe knowledge is power. Knowing you have PTSD enables you to make informed choices or seek out the information you need to be informed.

    PTSD is also well known for an aspect of denial. How are you supposed to get out of denial if you don't even know what is wrong? (food for thought there!)

    In my experience, knowing what it was made all the difference. It was a relief.. I'm not crazy! LOL I know that others feel it's a burden, but to me it's all positive.

    I think this is something you will have to decide is positive or negative for you and go from there!

  11. bob

    bob Member

    I know what you mean about denial, I have been there. Sometimes I convince myself that I'm fine but my symptoms have been so bad recently that it's impossible to deny.

    I was wondering if anyone knows of a trauma specialist in the UK, preferably in the South West?
  12. Marlene

    Marlene I'm a VIP Premium Member

    Tossing in my two cents.

    I think a diagnosis (from a suffer's point of view) is important as a way to say, 'Yes, there's a problem. It's not just you, it's not in your head, you're not crazy'. Finding that out gave me quite a lot of mental relief from worry. Also finding out as much as you can about what PTSD entails (mentally/emotionally/physically) and how it can affect your life.

    Beyond that we all have to take responsibility for our lives and our actions. No one is going to live them for us and we all have one shot at life. Some will use PTSD as a crutch and a reason not to fight. Some will use it as a reason to fight. I find being in the latter group is the only way I can live with it.

  13. kers

    kers I'm a VIP

    I've found this true as well, Lisa. The diagnosis and list of symptoms is something that I mostly dwelled on at the beginning of my treatment--it was a constant relief to be reassured that the symptoms (of which I had been very ashamed) were typical of a specific disorder. Once those were normalized for me (more or less), it has become easier to focus on changing my behavioral and thinking patterns. I'm not as focused on simply dismissing myself as "screwed up," so I can actually so something about my problems.
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