I've noticed a new and growing phenomenon in my clinic. I'm not a pediatrician but I do work primarily with a younger patient base aged 18-24 (because of my area demographics and specialization). And recently there has been an increase in younger patients, usually Generation Z, who come in for an appointment confident that they absolutely have either depression and/or anxiety. They'll bring a laundry list of symptoms and most of the time it doesn't pass the SIGECAPS muster or the criteria for any other diagnosable disease. Most of the time it can be explained by environmental stresses and relationship issues instead of a bona fide mood disorder. Yet they are sure they have it. Absolutely sure. And when I gently try to push back and suggest maybe it's more of a subacute behavioral problem – they get upset.
I've had kids bring me printouts of random blogs with questionable studies, or stories of Youtubers who self-diagnosed, etc. And they argue for 20 minutes with me about this. I've had one young woman get extremely distraught when I said I wasn't going to make a diagnosis of depression, and she yelled at me saying "You're trying to deny my lived experience!" Fortunately that one was an outlier.
I have no problem referring people to therapy, or prescribing appropriate medication when it is needed. But I will not be bullied into making a diagnosis that simply is not present. Yet in recent years, especially in younger people, there seems to be more pressure to formally label them as depressed. I don't get it.
Furthermore I do not understand why someone would want to be diagnosed with this disease in particular. I've never had to argue someone out of thinking they have bipolar or schizophrenia or anything like that. It's always depression or anxiety. Why would you want this? There are no societal benefits to it. SSRI's aren't addictive and don't sell on the black market. Why?
Do any other PCPs have a similar issue? Has there been any research or commentary done on why this is happening?
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