Dismissed And Misdiagnosed: Women’s Health Concerns Are Disregarded By DoctorsMarch 9, 2019
Tips For Speaking Up About Your Medical And Mental Health ConcernsMarch 13, 2019
In our recent blog post, we discussed the legacy of hysteria and the negative connotation surrounding all medical issues and women. Research we cited has found that women are treated differently in a medical setting; for example, women can have a delay in diagnosis for four years or more compared to men who will be diagnosed with a condition more rapidly. Even in an Emergency Room setting when women are experiencing the most excruciating pain of their lives, their experience is demeaned, diminished, or dismissed entirely, causing women to suffer unnecessarily. In certain physical health conditions, like when a woman is suffering the symptoms of a heart attack, this can be fatal in the short term. For mental health conditions, women’s suffering can be fatal in the long term or cause a lifetime of struggle which could be remedied with early diagnosis, intervention, and treatment.
“Gender Bias” is the proper term for what has also been called “Yentl Syndrome” in which women are treated differently, meaning more poorly, than men. Women are typically considered over dramatic, hysterical, exaggerators who are inherently less intelligent than men so they cannot possibly know what they are actually experiencing or adequately gauge the severity of their experience. What men don’t often realize is the severe resilience and tolerance that women have- not only do women endure tremendous amounts of pain their entire lives, they also have to endure the pain of not being taken seriously or treated as they should be treated. To this extent, women may not know their own pain because their threshold for painful experiences can be quite high. However, like any human being in existence, a woman has a right to be heard, seen, and treated for what goes on in her body, as well as her mind.
Women’s moods are blamed on hormones, sexual activity, menstruation, and anything external to the internal experience of a woman herself. The thoughts a woman has are taken from her autonomy and assigned elsewhere. The traumas a woman lives through are either tossed aside, blamed upon her, or designated as deserved. Each day, women have to fight against centuries of systemic oppression that tells her she doesn’t know what she feels, what she thinks, or how to handle herself. For women struggling with their mental health, this is a great problem. Mental illness of any kind causes an incredible amount of stress on a cellular level of the body, increasing inflammation throughout a woman’s being and putting her at greater risk for disease or other kinds of physical illness. What is disregarded as a “mood” could be the build up of both medical and mental illness necessitating treatment. Women are in need of the elimination of the legacy of simply being hysterical, although, after so many years of being mistreated, hysterical might be precisely what women need to be. Unfortunately, the nuances of hysterical behavior don’t accomplish much when it comes to getting the care and treatment women need.
Though we may not be able to systemically change the entire industrial system that is modern medicine, we can change the way we approach getting our medical and mental health needs met. In our next blog we will look at steps we can take for when we’re speaking up about our experience and asking for help.
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