Young People on TikTok Are Self-Diagnosing


Therapists must look at the range of experiences a client is having, when they occur and for how long. Are they functioning in their life? How are they sleeping, eating, relating to others? How is their mood and motivation?

On Friday, a TikTok spokeswoman said in a statement:“We strongly encourage individuals to seek professional medical advice if they are in need of support,” adding that the company continues to invest in digital literacy education aimed at helping people evaluate online content.

Sara Anne Hawkins, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Minneapolis, said that three of her young clients recently told her they have misophonia, a condition that can make people feel rage upon hearing other people’s sounds, like chewing or breathing.

“They’re self-effacing about it, like, ‘Oh god, I got this off TikTok,’” she said. “They’re like — this is me, right?”

As it turned out, only one of her clients ended up struggling with the disorder. Regardless, bringing it up provided an opportunity for all three to further discuss any feelings of anger and irritability.

“I think it empowers youth to know it’s not just them making something up, or it’s not all in my head — ‘Look, other people feel this way, too,’” she said. But, Ms. Hawkins added, “a little bit of information can be dangerous.”

Ms. Hawkins’s son, Ronan Cosgrove, 16, who has been on TikTok for about four years, said that among some of his peers it has become trendy to identify with a mental health disorder. For them, he added, it is considered a personality trait rather than something you want to heal.


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