Experts warn of another dangerous TikTok trend

FRANKLIN — A dangerous new trend is emerging on the social media site, TikTok, and health experts want parents and caregivers to know what’s out there.

According to a recent report from Good Morning America, a new TikTok trend could lead to more teens self-diagnosing themselves with rare and serious mental disorders. The video app seems to have more and more videos of young people claiming to have rare borderline, bipolar or identity personality disorders. Videos with these hashtags have been viewed millions of times.

Lindsey Wakefield is a psychology student at Franklin College in Johnson County, and while she said she’s not on the platform, she’s well aware of this growing trend based on conversations she had with peers and family members.

“For example, people post about a symptom they have that they say is part of ADHD, and I’m like, ‘Yeah, I can see that’s part of ADHD.’ And then later in the thread, people are like, ‘Oh my God, I have ADHD because I do this too,’ Wakefield said.

And some of the trendy mental health conditions are even rarer or more serious than ADHD.

“For example, one of my cousins ​​came up to me and said, ‘I think I have schizophrenia,’ and she was telling me about everything she was doing and I’m like, let’s calm down,” said said Wakefield. .

His professor of physiology, Jamie Bromley, teaches a course in abnormal psychology at Franklin College. She said some of these symptoms like nervousness or anxiety are normal feelings that we all experience at times, and that there is a range from typical to things that have a big impact on your daily life. .

She said these videos can often be inaccurate and many highlight disorders that are extremely rare in the population. She even encourages her students not to try to self-diagnose or diagnose others, as this is still an undergraduate course and it takes more knowledge and experience to give a diagnosis.

“So it takes a lot of training and a lot of experience to be able to diagnose, so the only people who can really provide a psychological diagnosis are licensed professionals,” Bromley said.

Bromley said that with social media becoming an increasing part of life, there is more and more research into the psychological impacts of these sites, especially on young people and it is always a topic of discussion in his classes at the college.

“How does it affect, you know, cognitive processes, emotional behavior, and what are the long-term effects, you know, both positive and negative,” Bromley said.

Wakefield is an avid reader and said she doesn’t have a lot of time to spend on social media sites and can see how it adds to procrastination and how it can be dangerous for young people. She said growing up they had pretty open communication at home about what was happening on the web, but she recalls that a big part of maintaining her online sanity during her teenage years was friends who supported her.

“Having friends around you like those who know what you’re getting into and having those affirmation buddies to make sure you don’t go overboard, or if you are, they’re there to help you out,” Wakefield said. .

Bromley adds that parents need to be aware of social media platforms, what’s on them, and strive to maintain an open line of communication with their children and teens.

“And if they’re trying to figure something out through self-diagnosis, maybe something is going on, but maybe not this rare disorder that they self-diagnosed,” Bromley said. “Maybe they’re having symptoms of depression or symptoms of anxiety and they need support.”

Bromley said for caregivers, it’s important to set boundaries based on age and maturity. Help your child set boundaries. Help them learn to resist social pressures. They need allies to do this, so encourage them to talk to you about what’s going on in their lives, including their mental health.

She said research shows that the more young children engage with social media, the more problematic it can be and it’s important to make all those decisions as a family, like when kids can get their first phone and when they’ll be. allowed on these social media. platforms.

As for Wakefield, she is about to earn a major in psychology and a minor in Spanish from Franklin College and is currently applying for graduate programs.

She hopes to use her upbringing to eventually help members of the Spanish-speaking community get the help and support they need to overcome trauma. She said that through her internships, she sees a need for more of these services and advocates in minority communities and hopes that one day she can help provide the best care for people in these communities in central Indiana. .

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