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How to Fight Medical Gaslighting

Updated: Jul 15, 2022

Medical Gaslighting is when a doctor disregards your symptoms or personal account of your illness and tries to say that it's all in your head.

If you are a woman with an autoimmune disease or Lupus, keep reading, medical gaslighting can not only be frustrating but also incredibly dangerous to your health!

Have you ever been blown off by a doctor?

Has your doctor downplayed your symptoms?

Has your doctor tried to convince you that you're exaggerating your symptoms or that the symptoms are all in your head?

Has a doctor told you that your symptoms are just because of stress, anxiety, or being too busy?

If this has happened to you, keep reading!

I've heard from SO MANY WOMEN with Lupus that their doctors have done this to them, don't let medical gaslighting happen to you!

"Gaslighting" happens when one person tries to convince another to second-guess their instincts and doubt their perception that something is real.

Tip #1 - Be Prepared

Keep a symptom log and bring it with you to your appointment.

A symptom log should include:

1. Your symptoms

2. What days they started/stopped

3. The severity of the symptoms

When you have quantitative data in front of you, it will help you explain things more clearly (especially when you've got Lupus brain fog!) and be more confident when explaining your symptoms!

Tip #2 - Bring a loved one

If your brain fog is bad or you feel disregarded by your doctor, bring a loved one that is firm and confident.

They can help you in two ways:

  1. Give you an unbiased opinion on the doctor's behavior

  2. Act as another set of ears to recall what the doctor said about your treatment plan and how you're doing.

Gaslighting as a term originates from the 1944 Ingrid Bergman film Gaslight, in which a husband purposefully drives his wife insane by flickering lights, making noises in the attic, and then claiming the very real experience was all in her head.

Tip #3 - Find a doctor you feel is a good fit

Personally, I have found it MUCH easier to speak with doctors that are women or either male or female doctors that are people of color. I've felt the most disrespected and disregarded by white male doctors.

Also, the data doesn't lie: women are much more likely to die in surgery if their surgeon is a male instead of a female:

Tip #4 - Get a second opinion

If you feel as though your doctor is gaslighting you, get a second opinion. If you need to, it may be time to move on to another doctor.

What starts as a small annoyance could turn into a TERRIBLE situation.

I've heard from quite a few clients that sometimes a doctor just decides they don't have Lupus anymore and denies them prescriptions or care. Some of these doctors have even gone out of their way to convince my client's other doctors that they are making it up!!!

The consequences can be awful, one woman shared her story that she lost her baby because doctors didn't believe her pain in pregnancy was legitimate.

Tip #5 - "I'll need a copy of that ... "

Lastly, make sure you get copies of ALL your medical records, at EVERY doctor and EVERY appointment - all your labs, every test, all of the documentation, and any type of note!

I've heard from countless women that moved and had to find a new doctor that the new doctor didn't believe they had Lupus because they were doing so well! They may stop prescribing your medications or treatments and even put in their notes that they think you're a hypochondriac.

Abruptly stopping medication can put you into a terrible flare! AND this can interfere with your future healthcare FOR YEARS if they write damaging information in your medical record!!

Remember, YOU ARE THE EXPERT ON YOU! Don't let a doctor may you doubt yourself!

xoxo, The Lupus Dietitian

Continue to follow for more tips on Living Well with Lupus!

If you're ready to take control of your Lupus, schedule a 15 minute meet and greet call with me to figure out your next step:

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