It happens everyday. Since the advent of widespread use of online sites like WebMD and Google the past 5 years or so, patients are more anxious than ever.

The simple curiosity of looking up a symptom can lead to abject fear and open avenues of death that had never even been imagined or considered.

Typing the symptoms like stomach ache or rash gives you everything from passing virus to death in graphic written and visual detail with a dramatic anecdotal “testimony” from a personal blog or support group.

I can’t tell you how many times I have had to inform someone that there is no indication that they are dying or have a mortal disease. I have gently asked the question “did you already kill yourself off in your head?” many times and usually get an affirmative response full of relief and tears of joy.

The Dangers of Self Diagnosis

Many confess they spend several days in anxiety going through the countless scenarios during the time/days waiting for their appointment. They had used encyclopedic tools to try to self diagnose.

This approach is flawed in that it has nothing to do with how smart you are or how thoroughly you search the net. How would you expect someone who had never seen a the a 1000-piece puzzle image before it was broken apart to accurately put it together in the right context and relationships. It would be nearly impossible.

I reassure my patients when they sheepishly admit their fruitless efforts online that even doctors who go through years of training to study the images of human health and disease can struggle or misdiagnose. So how would we expect someone else or yourself without that time in training to do so?

So in the future, avoid TMI with TLC, skip the anxiety and angst and simply do the wisest thing-seek professional medical consultation.

About the author

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Dr. Carol

Dr. Carol- doctor, wife, mom and maker PB&J!
One of my passions is to help people Embrace change, Try new things and be BOLD for a healthier and balanced life!


  • This is really good advice. Sometimes it’s hard to just wait something out especially if you or your loved one is really uncomfortable or worried about symptoms. I’m guity of hoping online and doing some research, but I always take it all with a huge grain of salt and certainly head to my practitioner for more educated answers!

    • Jessica,
      There is nothing wrong with doing your research. Just don’t make yourself sick with worry.

    • I try as much as possible not to treat myself or family members. They are welcome to bounce things off of me but I prefer they see an objective professional and not rely on the “clouded” judgement of their mom or sister who just happens to be a doctor.

  • As someone who is a hypochondriac, WebMD and Google are the worst resources to turn to (outside of Facebook groups, lol)

    • It’s not easy but what other option do we have. The anxiety state is very unsettling and unpleasant.

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