If you have recently received or your child has recently received a mental health diagnosis, you may be wondering if this diagnosis will last forever. The label and stigma of a mental health diagnosis can be pressure and temptation enough to want to avoid the entire process. Will this be my label for the rest of my life?

The answer to this question is both yes and no. The answer is as complex as the diagnoses and individual themselves. Many of the criteria needed to reach a formal diagnosis is dependent on how it impacts an individual’s lifestyle. The DSM, the diagnostic manual used for diagnosis, commonly evaluates the severity of certain behaviours and their impact in a social, work, and/or academic setting.

For example, Johnny may be diagnosed with ADHD as a child, meaning that his hyperactive and inattentive behavioral traits are severe enough that they are impacting his ability to function at school and at home to reach a diagnosis. As Johnny works on coping skills to manage his ADHD throughout his childhood, it may impact his schooling less and less. By the time Johnny reaches college, it may appear that he has “grown out of it”. The reality is that his hyperactivity and inattentiveness traits are still present, but Johnny now has learned highly effective ways to cope and function. It became second nature to Johnny and he doesn’t even notice the impact in his lifestyle. Does his brain have the same tendencies that he had as a child? Yes. Does he meet criteria for a diagnosis as an adult? Maybe Not.

It is also important to note that there are different severities of symptoms when it comes to mental health disorders. Individuals will continue to have these traits for the remainder of their life. Mood disorders are commonly impacted by life events and may appear to come and go throughout someone’s lifetime. You can speak with your psychologist about the severity of the mental health diagnosis and discuss expectations within treatment. Some diagnosis’ are dependent on specific environmental changes and can be considered temporary, like postpartum depression is specifically linked to changes within an individual post giving birth, but this does not limit depression symptoms from resurfacing at various times throughout someone’s lifetime.

If you have concerns or questions about receiving a mental health diagnosis or are wondering about managing your expectations for treatment, book in a time to speak with a psychologist. The goal with a mental health treatment and diagnosis is to help people better understand the way their minds typically work so they can then make changes in their approach to life tasks in order to live a meaningful and successful life, regardless of diagnosis. To book in a time to speak to a psychologist call us on (02) 6262 6157 or book an appointment online.

Related reading:

The Importance of a Comprehensive Assessment
Cure Vs. Management of Disorders
Can a Psychologist “Fix” Your Child?