As a young woman, I was told more than once that my severe respiratory symptoms were perhaps “psychosomatic,” caused by stress or anxiety. Being sick enough to be in the intensive care unit was challenging enough; having my credibility called into question while I was struggling simply to breathe made the situation that much harder.

When biopsies confirmed that I had a rare genetic lung disease called primary ciliary dyskinesia, I had “proof” that my physical problems were just that—physical.

Unfortunately, not every condition lends itself to biopsies and concrete diagnostic tests, and that ambiguity leaves a hazardous gap that could soon be widened by a new psychiatric diagnosis.