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Neurologist warns vs social media diagnosis

By Nathaniel Carampatana | December 7, 2023

“Nothing is free on social media, and sometimes they might be advertising a product or a service. It is important to be aware of social media influencers, especially those who claim to be doctors,” Dr. Justine Megan Yu said. 

A neurologist with a Doctor of Medicine degree from St. Luke Medical Center, College of Medicine, Dr. Yu currently serves as a visiting neurology consultant at the Silliman University (SU) Medical Center. 

In her talk “Mindful Minds: Dangers of Self-diagnosis,” during the Mental Health Caravan last Nov. 29 at the SU College of Nursing building, she discussed the origins of how students begin to self-diagnose with mental health issues through the use of social media, especially with the gift of technology at a young age. 

Dr. Yu raised awareness about how our screen time affects the mind and can be the cause of mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.

She said that everyone must be mindful of their information intake since not all who can give information have the credentials to back their statements.

On the lookout 

“One qualifier for a mental health condition is when it begins to affect your life in three main areas: home, social life, work, or school life,” Dr. Yu said. 

She stated that people tend to stay away from those three aspects when dealing with mental illness. 

“Some may also experience changes in quality of life, such as loss of appetite and less sleep, and stay away from their friends because they cannot relate to their illness,” Dr. Yu said.

Why people fear professional treatment

According to Dr. Yu, there are three common reasons why people avoid seeking professional diagnosis and self-treatment. 

“First, it is expensive; people, especially students, cannot afford the cost of mental health treatment. Second, there is no time to go to the hospital or clinic; they would rather spend the waiting time enjoying food and socializing. Last, they don’t know where to go or are embarrassed to talk about their mental illness,” she said.

The cure

Dr. Yu said that prioritizing mental and physical health is crucial, considering the complexities of general psychological illnesses such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. 

“Diagnosing these conditions is a lengthy process involving medical history checks, physical and neurological examinations, psychological assessments, and, if necessary, diagnostic tests,” she said. 

Dr. Yu advised that maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is vital for mental health. “It [consistent sleep] influences hormone production like melatonin. For optimal cognitive function, adequate sleep is advised, particularly for students preparing for exams, as it aids information processing and retention,” she said.

(with reports from Angelikka Remollo and Man Ying Wong)

Editor’s note: This post is part of the Weekly Sillimanian and the College of Mass Communication collaboration. Students taking COM 33 – News Editing and Production under Asst. Prof. Irma Pal temporarily take over the operations for a week or one issue as their final requirement.


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