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Dr. Google: A Sure Path to Anxiety

Googling as a Compulsion

Googling and constantly researching your symptoms is one of the worst things you can do for your mental health. The internet is full of lies and half-truths, and even if something is true it may not be applicable to your situation. The people responding on forums are not medical experts, and many of them are looking for the same sort of comfort as those writing the initial post. This brings me to the point of googling as a compulsion.

First, you experience a symptom. Then you want to see if someone else has experienced the same symptom. Once you confirm your fears and diagnose yourself with anxiety or another related condition, you achieve a temporary (illusionary) peace of mind. Once the symptom resurfaces or a new one appears you begin to doubt your initial diagnosis and seek validation through Dr. Google in what could be a never-ending vicious cycle.

Another danger that you may run into as a result of googling is that you may begin to psychosomatically experience symptoms or obsessions that you have read about. This has happened to me on more than one occasion, and I attribute it to living in a state of permanent fear, where any intake of negative information can trigger heavy anxiety and a rumination-like response.

By googling and seeking validation from family members and friends, you will not solve your problems. You will become dependent on the opinion of others, and will cripple your own self-judgment and any potential coping mechanisms. Whereas opening up and talking about your emotions can clear the path to healing, repeatedly seeking reassurance is self-destructive and counterproductive to recovery.

So what should you do instead of googling? If you think your problem is that severe, seek professional advice and talk to someone who is qualified to diagnose your symptoms. Secondly, (which is much easier said than done), let go of your fears. Fear is a significant driver of illness, being extremely toxic for both mind and body. If you are afraid of a certain health outcome or some other hypothetical occurrence, obsessing and worrying about it won’t stop it from happening. A lot of life events are outside the scope of our control, and the sooner we realize and accept that, the more mindful we will become of the blessings we currently have.

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