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The unbearable ease of diagnosis

A diagnosis can be a blessing. But it can also be the biggest obstacle to improvement. What do we do when the number of diagnosed explodes?



When you or your own loved one has long struggled with symptoms that inhibit both quality of life and joy of life, it can be a huge relief to finally get a diagnosis. Be it fibromyalgia, ADHD, dementia or something else. The name does not give all answers – this is usually the genetic, biological and environmental causal links too poorly known. But the diagnosis can constitute a "model" to hook the situation on and make it easier to explain, both for yourself and for others.

Although the model often "tightens" a bit here and there, it can be a starting point for making constructive choices, both on the physical and mental levels, so that one can find a viable way forward.

Some people are crawling only reluctantly into the diagnosis. Other jumps eased into the backpack. When your system has long shouted that something is wrong, the environment has looked askance at you because you do not "deliver", and you yourself have been your own worst enemy and biggest critic, it can be good to climb into a soft, dark sack . A sanctuary where the boundaries are defined and you can find rest.

The danger, however, is that you bring themes down into the bag that do not belong there. For example, problems with completely different origins, and which can be tempting to pull up to avoid having to deal with them. It is rarely a good idea – but one can hardly blame a hard-tried person for choosing such a strategy. What is more difficult to accept is when responsible persons hide behind the diagnostic concept and use it as (away) explanation for all irregularities.

Employees in health, care and education are probably often frustrated in their powerlessness about issues they are faced with. In situations of limited time, resources, and knowledge (where the latter is certainly difficult to both recognize and admit), it may be a relief to find a diagnosis that can be carefully wrapped in the patient. defined by certain symptoms and may, consciously or unconsciously, be abused.

Dementia is one good example of such a diagnosis. It comes with a lovely, large bag that holds a wealth of ailments and symptoms. Down in the black hole one can throw not only cognitive impairment, lack orienteringsleepiness and mood swings, but also frustration, depression, restlessness, depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, fatigue, unstable gait, falling tendency, high and low blood pressure and blood sugar, eating disorders, extreme overweight and underweight, dehydration and most other things. Ailments that would be investigated in the "real" world, but which are often written off as part of a seemingly endless and all-encompassing symptom picture.

Most of us would have quickly degenerated if we were exposed to the conditions many nursing home residents live under. At the top of the food pyramid, for example, juice and a slice of wheat bread with jam often sit; cauliflower soup with no visible traces of cauliflower; frozen pizza and sour cream porridge. The latter served without either porridge stick or shyness and called dinner. Anders Behring Breivik's Fjordland food would probably have been a strong improvement compared to this menu, and his much talked about cold coffee would be received with thanks from residents who literally sit still and dry out.

That blood pressure bursts the scale at both ends, and blood sugar is sent on a yo-yo journey between high peaks and deep valleys, with a consequent consequence for both weight, mood and body balance, should come as no surprise.

It also does not help that activation is at a minimum, and that the common rooms are often more like dormitories than rooms for social and mental stimulation. Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson's "peace is not the best, but that you want something" seems to have been turned upside down, with peace and quiet from here to eternity – literally – as the ultimate state.

Fibromyalgia is one another handsome sack to have. In it we put people, most often women, with indefinable pains and ailments, and park them without much frills on the shelf for more or less hopeless cases, often together with a little antidepressant. If this does not solve the problems, it at least numbs some of the symptoms and lowers the frequency of doctor visits.

The medication aims to squeeze "inappropriately active" children into the "normal" mold.

The ADHD backpack is also interesting and highly topical. In Norway, it is estimated that between three and five per cent of school children under the age of 18 have ADHD, and in the last ten years the number of children who are medicated for ADHD has more than tripled. The medication aims to squeeze "inappropriately active" children into the "normal" mold. The effect varies, and the side effects range from abdominal pain, headache, dizziness, decreased appetite and weight loss to mania, restlessness, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. The school wipes its hands while the pharmaceutical industry rubs its hands.

The diagnosis most often places the "responsibility" on the patient, and it is only rarely that one looks at the conditions in the school, institution or the environment in general. Investigation and implementation of measures that can be about facilitation, changes in life situation, everyday school life or work situation – possibly various forms of counseling, therapy and treatment – can be both costly and time-consuming.

In the long run, however, it can cost us dearly at both the societal and individual level to sweep symptoms, often together with a medical cocktail, under a comprehensive diagnostic blanket that gives the impression that everything is as it should be. Or not be.


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