In my (many) years, I have lost count of the number of times that I have taken to Dr Google to diagnose my ailments – from; “what should a mole look like?” and; “what are the side effects of..?” to completely submerging myself into the masses of information available surrounding premenstrual disorders.
I am comfortable in an academic environment and am one of the stranger folk who like to snuggle down with a cuppa and a methodically rigorous research paper. Being scientifically minded, I feel that I can filter the high quality, evidence-based information from the less so.
I also take great interest in reading about other’s personal experiences of premenstrual disorders and mental health journeys. It is both informative, cathartic, and can bring great comfort to know you are not alone.
The internet can be such a blessing in this regard. From the comfort of your own home, you can reach out to virtually anyone on the planet (see what I did there?) and get access to the latest research, information and resources to your every whim. It also allows us the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and create support networks that can be invaluable, and something we could never have imagined in our wildest dreams back in 1990 when the internet was switched on, destined to change our lives forever!
But. And this is a big BUT! This portal to the known universe can also open up your living room to a risk of misinformation, untruths and frankly dangerous advice. Anybody with a smartphone and an internet connection can broadcast directly into your lives and sell you their professional advice. Whilst the internet embodies the right to freedom of speech it does not provide any regulation to these charlatans selling their snake oil.
That’s a bit harsh I hear you say! Is broadcasting your fake news and false qualifications any better than the websites that promote self-harm or teach our girls and women how to become anorexic? In the perfect storm this can lead to a serious risk to health and wellbeing for those desperate for a cure, despairing for answers.
So how can you be sure that the information you are getting is accurate, informed and scientifically valid? The answer is pretty straightforward; question everything and look for validation.
- Is the information coming from a verified organisation?
- If the person is giving treatment advice, are they a registered health professional with a speciality in the topic?
- Is the data or information independent from the influence of a drug or product company?
- Can the person’s claims be substantiated by research?
- Do the articles have links to where the information was sourced from?
- Is your access to the information free of charge?
If the answer to any of these questions is no then you have reason to doubt the quality of the information. Now I’m not saying that if the answer is no then the information is definitely incorrect or biased, but simply that you need to be mindful of the risk of misinformation and influence, particularly if they want you to part with your money.
For reliable, verified and evidence-based information and support for premenstrual disorders: