Human bias is almost never discussed in my treatments, including my own (as patient) or providers.

A commonly used mental health screening tool as part of a comprehensive assessment for General Anxiety Disorder is the GAD-7 (among other tools); A short 7-question multiple choice form based on patient feedback.

“Healthcare providers diagnose GAD when your worrying happens on most days and for at least 6 months.” (John Hopkins👇)

The requirements of GAD diagnosis represent some of the subjective limitations I find inherent in mental health fundamentals, including similarly depression.

The extent of “worry” must be understood then relayed coherently (and accurately) by patient on any given day of diagnosis and/or extrapolated by clinician, both subject to great bias potential.

What is normal worry to one, may not be normal for another in respect to life events deserving worry. Tackling this awareness in a 30-minute session can be tricky for me. When in doubt, my experience shows prescribers prescribe. Treatment side effects can then lead to more meds needed to treat these side effects (prescribing cascades).

Screening tools are not diagnostic & require comprehensive assessment by mental health professionals to achieve. That said, I have personally seen GAD-7 relied on heavily for diagnosis in my own treatment, whether a valid clinical approach or not, leading to medication protocols.

A good clinician will reevaluate GAD indefinitely. However, mental health amber traps in my life can see this diagnosis drift unchallenged for long periods of time, assumedly still present. As example: I have a GAD diagnosis still following my current records from 2010, diagnosed among alcohol withdrawal (rehab). Mental health changes this diagnosis as needed. However, my medical health professionals do not.

I think it’s important for myself (as patient) to understand the complexities of my own life and whether worry is legitimate or concernedly problematic, specifically before mental health screening occurs, or immediately after. Educating myself on medications prescribed is also beneficial for my decision making, including online research and asking prescribers/pharmacies direct.

What is GAD vs healthy concern is sometimes hard to define for myself. If life changes and anxiety/worry changes, it behooves me as patient to have GAD reassessed, particularly among medications. Taking meds to mask my broken life gets dicey.

My opinion is: honest, sincere feedback combined with diagnostic awareness and bias discussions can help prepare me (as patient) from overzealous mental health treatments. Of course, it is never recommended anyone self-diagnose anything; I do this all in careful conjunction with mental health professionals (both therapists & psych), sometimes even requesting we screen for GAD over multiple sessions for reliability among bias.

Disclaimer: This is not medical or mental health advice, it is merely awareness based on my own patient experience alone. I have been over medicated in the past, problematically so. This is how I mitigate this potential for myself. I always discuss this with my mental health professionals first.


General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) sources:

  1. John Hopkins Article on General Anxiety Disorder: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/generalized-anxiety-disorder
  2. (NIH) Generalized Anxiety Disorder 7-item (GAD-7): https://www.hiv.uw.edu/page/mental-health-screening/gad-7
  3. (NIH) Validation and standardization of the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Screener (GAD-7) in the general population: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18388841/
  4. (NIH) Validity and reliability of the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) among university students of Bangladesh: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8675645/

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