When a young and otherwise healthy looking woman walks into a Dr’s office, the last thing we expect to learn is that she is suffering from a debilitating illness, and it seems that the same goes for the Doctors themselves as they are presented with patients who look otherwise perfectly healthy but complain of suffering from painful and restrictive symptoms that could be spelling out something serious, and yet, for some reason the professionals refuse to listen.
Is it down to the cost of testing? Is it down to the cost of treatments? Is the NHS trying to save money by telling us that we are merely hysterical and that our conditions are all in our heads?
Chronic illnesses: Are they the bane of our health system? Surely patients are making the pharmaceutical companies a profit with all of the treatments required to manage the symptoms of chronic complaints, or is it that these companies themselves need to shift a boat load of Prozac?
Take three examples: All young women. One suffers from a heart arrhythmia, and two suffer from autoimmune conditions. All three of these women will be treated the same way; as if their symptoms are all in their minds. After basic routine blood tests come back all clear, 90% of the time patients will be told that the cause of their symptoms is stress, anxiety or depression. So if 1 in 10 people suffer from anxiety or depression in the UK, how many of these diagnoses were in fact misdiagnosed?
Michelle, aged 31 was going through a gynaecological issue when one night her heart started racing which woke her from her sleep, it continued to race consistently. After weeks of being told it was anxiety she decided to see a private cardiologist who transferred her to his NHS list and carried out tests; no one could explain why her heart was constantly racing. She was then referred to an Electrophysiologist. She was finally diagnosed with Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia.
Carole, aged 30 was misdiagnosed at the age of 25 with anxiety and depression. After changing GP to a doctor who listened and took her debilitating symptoms seriously she was finally tested for autoimmune conditions and was diagnosed with Lupus and Sarcoidosis.
Rose, 35 was misdiagnosed with severe depression and anxiety for 8 years, experiencing pain and neurological symptoms she knew that something was wrong. She hounded the doctors for answers but was then placed on anti-depressants. She eventually, on moving to another area found a doctor who listened and referred her to a neurologist who ordered an MRI. It was then that they found multiple lesions to her brain and other areas, after more tests MS was confirmed.
It is fundamentally important that doctors take the time to take their patients seriously and not assume that just because patients appear distressed by their symptoms or because they appear healthy on face value that they are afflicted with mental conditions. Some patients have not been so lucky, and some have even died after suffering for years and being told their conditions are all in their heads. Failure to listen can cost lives.