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Medical Gaslighting Warning Signs and How to Defend Yourself

The term “medical gaslighting” may be relatively new, but the practice has been affecting people’s health outcomes for decades.

Katz Women’s Health Institute Senior Vice President, Northwell Health, Heart Smarter for Women – A healthier heart after 6 weeks. “

It can be so subtle that you might not even realize it’s happening to you.

Gaslighting, in psychology, refers to some kind of manipulation where you are tricked into questioning your own reality.

In healthcare, medical gas lamps are common, Rosen said. Especially among certain marginalized groups, such as women and minorities, including blacks and Latinos.

These groups experience medical gaslighting more frequently, Rosen added.

It can be worse for people who belong to more than one group, such as black women, says Tina Sachs, Associate Professor, School of Social Welfare, University of California, Berkeley.

“Women in health care are generally seen as ineffective because of pervasive misogyny,” and then when you combine that with the deep anti-Blackness that runs through society, those people are more likely to be fired, Sachs said. “

Minimising your health problems can have serious life and death consequences, Sachs said.

Black women have historically had the highest maternal mortality rate, which many suspect is due to institutional racism and disregard for their concerns.

If you think you’ve experienced medical gaslighting or want to prepare and prepare ahead of time, here are some signs to look out for and some advice to advocate for yourself.

How to Spot “Medical Gas Lighting”

It’s hard to know when gaslighting is going to happen, especially when you assume your doctor knows best, Sachs said.

Because care providers have expertise you may not have, you’re likely to take their word for it, even if they’re dismissive of your symptoms, she said.

“One of the things to keep in mind when we go to the doctor is that the provider often has expertise in healthcare and wellness topics, but you know your body,” Sachs said. “You really know yourself better than anyone else. what happened to me.”

Sachs interviewed a black woman who experienced knee pain for 15 years that doctors kept telling her it was because of her weight.

She suffered daily pain for nearly two decades and later discovered two tumors on her knee.

If persistent symptoms are quickly attributed to weight, stress, anxiety, depression or work overload, Rosen says your concern may be minimized.

Here are some phrases that may also be indicators of medical gaslighting:

  • “It’s all in your head.”
  • “That’s normal for your age.”
  • “I’m sure it wasn’t…” (before the test)
  • “Just a little swollen.”

How to Defend Yourself at the Doctor’s Office

To make sure your concerns are taken seriously, Rosen recommends taking notes before seeing your doctor and listing any health changes you notice. Also, please have a ready list of questions and concerns that you would like to discuss during your visit.

Taking notes during appointments can help you follow up on things you don’t understand, she adds.

“Make yourself an advocate for better healthcare,” Rosen said. “We know that a visit is 15 minutes, so how do you make the most of that 15 minutes?”

If allowed, you should also consider bringing another person with you to the appointment. This will give you extra ear and emotional support, Rosen said.

She points out that people who know you well can also help validate your concerns and reiterate them if they’re fired.

“Sometimes when there’s a second person in the room, that person is another voice [that can say] “No, she’s never complained like this in the past” and “No, it’s not about stress.” I’m her mother, I’m her sister, I’m her girlfriend,” she said.

It can also be helpful to find and stick with a primary care doctor you trust.doctor Rosen notes that someone familiar with your medical history may know your concerns better.

But sometimes, the answer may be changing your doctor or getting a second opinion, Rosen said.

For a visit you’re feeling nervous about, using mindfulness techniques before you arrive or while you’re listening to your doctor can help you think more clearly and defend yourself if needed, Sachs says.

Some of the mindfulness exercises she recommends are:

  • finger tapping exercises
  • sing in the mind
  • inhale and exhale

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