We can have a bewildering array of reactions – behavioral, physical/biological, mental, emotional, spiritual, sexual, psychological, relational, and social. Many reactions resemble psychiatric disorders but they’re not. Ever felt stressed? We all have. Stress is the #1 reason people see their primary care doctor. Stress can result in reactions in all these areas and be caused by a host of different things. And stress is often reframed as anxiety and/or depression. That’s a problem.
Ever been bitten by a tick? Lyme disease can masquerade as every psychiatric disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), but it’s very hard to diagnose and often not considered. Stress and Lyme disease are just two of literally thousands of medical and environmental causes of masquerade.
All behavior has meaning. Most psychological reactions can be redefined as coping mechanisms, including personality disorders, bipolar disorder, dissociation, substance use, psychosis, and schizophrenia.
Ever hear of the old TV show “House”? The good doctor (Hugh Laurie) was a sleuth who kept digging to find and address actual causes of people’s problems – some physiological and some mental even when other doctors told him to back off. He understood that all behavior has meaning and focused on causes, not just symptoms. That’s the kind of doctor I want. On the other hand, an ear-nose-throat doc I saw one time several years ago told me after a 10-minute exam, with no lab work, that I needed to be on lifelong medication. I walked out, did some research, and fixed me on my own – without lifelong meds.