Have You Been a Victim of Medical Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a term that’s become synonymous with toxic relationships and is most often used to describe a partner’s behavior. It’s essentially actions that trick someone into questioning their own judgment. The term most people are less familiar with is “medical gaslighting” — when a medical professional dismisses or downplays a patient’s physical symptoms. Recently, actor Sharon Stone revealed that she was a victim of medical gaslighting, when doctors refused to believe there was anything wrong with her. Doctors missed the signs on her first CT scan and decided she was “faking it.” In reality, she suffered a ruptured vertebral artery, which led to a brain hemorrhage. The problem is usually caused by some kind of trauma, like a fall, but it can also happen for no apparent reason. Stone’s experience is not rare. In fact, studies suggest that up to 70% of women in America have experienced medical gaslighting. Now, they’re increasingly more willing to speak about it. When someone is brushed off as being a hypochondriac, the impact is devastating. Not only are they left quite often with severe anxiety, but they begin to doubt themselves. In some cases, medical gaslighting can be life-threatening, as was the case for 50-year-old Sherri Rollins of North Carolina. The mother-of-two was told by doctors that she was being “hypersensitive” when she began experiencing back pain. In the end, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 color cancer and the disease had spread to her liver. She immediately underwent surgery, followed by about a year of chemotherapy. Her advice: be your own advocate. If you suspect something is wrong, keep going to doctors until you find one who will take you seriously.