We've all been guilty of googling our health symptoms and quickly spiraling to the conclusion "we're gonna die." Did you know that "cyberchondria" is now recognized by mental health experts. "Cyberchondria" is repeated, compulsive internet searches for medical info that can lead to worry & panic.
This type of thing can be very frustrating for doctors and other health care pros who say they spend a good amount of their time with patients dealing with inaccurate information or a self-diagnosis.
Here's how you can use google effectively to look up your symptoms.
- Make sure you start your search with well-known, reputable sources like: major health organizations, universities and hospitals. There is a lot of misinformation out there.
- Make sure the study you're reading holds up. Looks for things like if it published in a peer-reviewed journal, the sample size, if there were limitations, questions the research that can't address. Also make sure you check who funded the research & if there were any conflicts of interest, etc.
- If the search is stressing you out, it's a red flag. Instead of continuing down the rabbit hole, reach out to a medical professional who can help provide you with answers to your questions.
- Bring your sources to your doctor to discuss what you find. They can help determine if the information is accurate. If they are dismissive, it might be time to look for a second opinion. Patient research CAN be a good thing, if done correctly. Be sure to advocate for yourself.
- When in doubt, talk to your doctor. If you have concerns your doctor can address them with you and lead you toward getting the evaluation you need (if needed.)