A diagnosis is not a cause

Chronic fatigue syndrome is ‘major’ cause of school absence: research

There is something very wrong with this headline from this morning’s  The Telegraph, that has gone on to be reported in much the same way on TV and radio news.

This type of headline where a diagnosis is given as a cause simply promotes illness, the need to see doctors/psychiatrists and the use of medication.

Yes, diagnoses do cause problems for people. If you are diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder you may find the stigma associated with the diagnosis is longer lasting than any distress you have had before.

This is not what this type of headline is about. These articles typically say about under-diagnosis. This one says, “Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) may be ten times more common than previously thought and be one of the major reasons children are absent from school“. [Have you noticed how often mental disorders  ‘may be ten times more common’?]

I want to point out that CFS is not the cause or even the reason for the behavioural problems. Something else is causing the children to be at risk of diagnosis. The article is about children who have not been diagnosed. Clearly these children are tired and there could be many reasons for that other than a diagnosable syndrome. There is something going on in their environment that is causing this behaviour and that is what needs to be addressed.

Readers need to ask where these ideas of diagnosis = cause come from. Is this type of headline ever from truly independent researchers who have nothing at all to gain from the diagnosis? Can we be sure that there has been no influence from people whose jobs depend in some way on increasing diagnosis?

How is this linked to ‘Rethinking Bipolar’? The claims with bipolar are going further. It has been said that 1% of the population have been diagnosed since the bipolar diagnosis was created in 1980 and amazingly it is now claimed that up to 20% of the population are now experiencing bipolar symptoms. There is nothing like saying that huge numbers are experiencing something to make it more acceptable and helping it to spread!

About Roger A Smith
Helping you to think about bipolar disorder in different ways so that we can eliminate the disorder and eventually eliminate the need for this diagnosis.

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