Exposing the Reality of Medical Gaslighting

Feb 05, 2023

Medical gaslighting is a real problem that affects countless patients around the globe. In its most basic definition, medical gaslighting occurs when a patient’s symptoms are ignored or dismissed by their doctor, leaving them feeling confused and powerless. This is especially true for those suffering from chronic illnesses and conditions. If you’ve ever felt like your doctor wasn’t taking your concerns seriously or had difficulty getting an accurate diagnosis, then you may have been the victim of medical gaslighting.

The Realities of Medical Gaslighting
Medical gaslighting can be incredibly damaging to patients, both mentally and physically. It often leads to feelings of hopelessness and frustration as patients struggle to get their symptoms taken seriously. Patients may also feel anxious about seeking care due to previous experiences with dismissive doctors. Unfortunately, this can further exacerbate existing conditions and lead to worse health outcomes overall.

Amy was worried about her son, David. For months he had been complaining of chest pains and she had taken him to their family doctor multiple times. Each time, tests came back normal, and the doctor insisted it must be anxiety related. David adamantly denied this, and Amy explained to the doctor, multiple times, that David did not have a history of being anxious, he was very easy going. The doctor continuously dismissed these claims, and even accused Amy at one point of being in denial and denying her son proper treatment by not complying with filling the prescription he ordered. Feeling intimidated and defeated, Amy filled the prescription for antianxiety medication and David reluctantly took it, without any result. 

David just wanted to feel better, so he kept taking the medicine even though he still wasn't feeling any relief from his pain.

One day, while playing basketball with some friends, David suddenly collapsed on the court. Amy rushed to his side and saw that something was seriously wrong - her son's heart rate was erratic and there was a strange look of panic in his eyes as he tried desperately to catch his breath.

The ambulance arrived quickly, and they took him straight away to hospital where doctors determined that David was suffering a minor heart attack due to atrial fibrillation – a condition that could have easily been caught earlier if only he'd been referred to cardiology and given a Holter monitor sooner! Had this been done, perhaps none of this would've happened; maybe then David wouldn't have suffered from a mild heart attack due to undiagnosed A Fib.

How A Patient Advocate Can Help

As a nurse, I am concerned (and heartbroken) about the prevalence of medical gaslighting - an issue that can severely impact a person's health and wellbeing. It is essential for every patient to get proper diagnosis and treatment, no matter their circumstances. That's why I'm committed to advocating for increased awareness of this issue and fighting for better care for all patients.

A patient advocate can help provide support and guidance throughout the healthcare process. They can act as a bridge between the patient and their doctor, helping ensure that all of the patient's concerns are taken into account when making decisions about treatment plans or diagnoses. Additionally, they can offer valuable advice on how best to navigate the healthcare system in order to receive quality care. Having a patient advocate can make a huge difference in alleviating some of the stress associated with medical gaslighting, allowing patients to focus on getting better instead of worrying about whether their doctors will take them seriously or not.

Medical gaslighting is an all-too-common issue among patients, especially those struggling with chronic illnesses and conditions. It leaves patients feeling confused, frustrated, and powerless—which only further exacerbates existing health issues instead of providing relief from them. Thankfully, having a patient advocate can help alleviate some of this stress by acting as a bridge between the patient and their doctor, ensuring that all concerns are addressed in an effective manner when making decisions about treatment options or diagnoses. Victims of medical gaslighting deserve to feel secure in their care. With the right support, they can have peace of mind and focus on recovery without fear of being dismissed or disbelieved by their doctor. This is an issue that needs attention and action in order to make sure everyone has access to the best possible care.

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