Out of curiousity, when you go to a GP for a physical health problem, how often do they say it’s all in your head, or put it down to your mental health?

I’ve barely seen my GP due to his unfortunate habit of making me pull my sleeves up on every visit.  I find it hugely embarrassing and demeaning.  I don’t like my friends to see my scars, so why a stranger?  (I also don’t really get the whole big deal about self harm, but that’s a tale for another post…)

I don’t tend to go to the doctor’s for physical health problems unless forced, such as last year when people around me were wondering if I had leukemia, because I was covered in huge bruises and could barely stay awake.  He did a blood test and gave me a lecture on self harm.  Annoyingly, it was the first time I’d done it in over a year, and I did it after the (understandably hugely upsetting) abortion.  Still, it made a change from when I was getting lectures about my weight after I’d put on stones on medication.  And nothing was up in the blood tests, so god knows, maybe I was just being beaten up by ants in my sleep.

I’m having a physical health problem now but I doubt I’ll go to the doctor unless it really begins to scupper me.  My GP is okay, but probably somewhat too thorough when it comes to mental health.  So he tends, in my case, to just put everything down to mental health.  One day when I snuff of cancer I’ll laugh.

24 Responses

  1. This has happened to me once. The doctor I saw told me that I didn’t have tonsilitis, I in fact had anxiety and depression. Because, of course, the two conditions are mutually exclusive. Apparently I was imagining my swollen and puss-covered tonsils. When I got cross with her she started typing very quickly, possibly something to do with anger management. 😉

    Anyhoo, it’s only happened once. I refused to see that incompetent bitch anymore. All other doctors that I have seen have taken me seriously and not assumed that I am thick as well as mental.

  2. And hou know, in the Middle East, getting beaten up by ants is sexy. There’s poems written about a woman’s skin being so delicate that an ant walking on it would make it bruise and all the men get hard-ons. 😛

  3. When they messed up my dosage and I had withdrawal symptoms I was told that it was my anxiety and depression.

  4. I rarely go to the GP because I keep telling myself I should self diagnose instead of bothering someone who studied the same thing I did with something I should know, plus I have a paralyzing fear of running into an ex-classmate (we don’t have assigned GPs, whoever is around that day will see you).

    ANYWAY, still, when I was a student, I saw this a lot, and the people didn’t even have diagnosed mental illnesses. People would have to try years to deal with things like migraines, urinary infections, and even tumors because a long chain of doctors would say it was stress or anxiety.

  5. I refuse to see any doctor other than the one GP who’s known me all my life (although she’s hardly around any more) because they see my arms and say things like “oh I see you have a history” in such a condescending tone and then blame it all on that.

  6. This is called diagnostic overshadowing and it is totally disability-based discrimination. I refuse to see one particular GP because of this, I put in a complaint but it was handwaved away.

  7. I rarely go about physical things because I don’t particularly like going. Having said that I’ve always been treated with respect and had my concerns taken seriously (this is part of the reason I refuse to change GPs despite living outside of the catchment area). So there are some good GPs out there, even if there aren’t enough.

    Take care,

  8. I love my GP – I’m really lucky to have had 2 really good doctors who only ever ask about my mentalism when I bring it up. Otherwise I just tell them my symptoms (as I’ve self-diagnosed) and what drugs I’d like (as I’ve looked up in my textbooks.) Being a medical student has its benefits, the doctors seem to trust my diagnosis….

  9. I really like my GP. She was very sensitive and never hassled me about the self-harm. Her only remarks have been “you know it’s not normal to do those things to yourself” (no shit sherlock) and at a later date “You are beautiful girl..” (whilst staring in shock at the sight of my arms).

    The worst thing about some GPs, especially towards younger people, is the way that they assume they know more than you and you won’t understand, so they’ll just act as though you’re not there. I went to see a GP about a pain in the area of my kidneys, shortly after having a bladder infection, and this GP basically implied that I should sod off and stop wasting their time, only using his attitude and body language.

    Anyway, are you obliged to keep seeing the same GP?

  10. Not exactly, in fact if anything I’ve encountered closer to the reverse: a GP who doesn’t appear to believe in mentalism, and accused me of trying to “medicalise emotions” or some related shite (see here. Fortunately the bloke I normally see is a superstar, but they can be very hit and miss 😦

  11. Formatting FAIL. Sorry!

  12. It’s only happened to me once, when a GP lost all interest in what I was saying the moment he saw my arms. Fortunately it wasn’t anything serious–just costochondritis–but it irked me no end when he wrote me off as being ‘uptight’. He was a shit GP anyway because he also said there was nothing he could do for me on a Friday afternoon (er, not even YOUR JOB, mate?) so needless to say I never bothered with him again. I have a fantastic GP now who has always taken me seriously, and has actually gone the extra mile for me on multiple occasions, and I would happily clone her and send her around the world, if only that were possible.

    I’m no longer willing to put up with substandard care and I don’t think any of us should have to put up with it.

  13. Yes, also only once but then I’ve only been physically ill once . . . the GP insisted some weird stomach problems were from depression but – after switching GPs and seeing the new one before my notes arrived – I eventually got a referral and found it was crohn’s. Humpf.

  14. I have a double banger…. I am morbidly obese and a mentalist… so my GP says everything physically wrong with me is my obesity and in my head… I am imagining my problems… I also have hashimotos… that never gets blamed for anything… I sometimes lose the ability to walk and talk… it is stress and in my head… there is no way of testing my brain for physical symptoms because I am too big to fit in the MRI or Cat Scan… such a problem… it is all in my head

  15. For heaven’s sake – he’s not a stranger, he’s your doctor! Of course he wants to know if you’re self-harming, given your history. If it’s not a big deal as you try to make out, why is it such a problem? The medical profession isn’t tailor made for you, you know.

  16. Actually, self harming isn’t as dangerous as, for example, consuming huge amounts of alcohol (which is a form of self harm in itself), but I bet the Dr doesn’t continually ask about alcohol intake when you go in about, for example, cystitis etc.

    You are within your rights to change your GP if you think that would help. There are GPs who deal with the issue you go in for without dwelling things which do not concern you. A GP isn’t a qualified mental health professional – that what the CMHT is for.

  17. It’s understandable that he wants to make sure you’re past issues are not coming back to bite you, but it’s totally wrong that someone who’s there to *help* you should make you feel humiliated in any way. Also I think putting everything down to the state of your mental health is quite a lazy and possible dangerous thing for a doctor to do.

    Maybe you could go and see him and during the consultation explain to him how his attitude towards your mental health makes you feel? The last thing any GP worth their salt wants to do is make their patient feel uncomfortable and he might not actually realise how he’s making you feel.

  18. I lost hope in my GP when I was told the asthma that I have had all my life was all in my head – without listening to my chest. I’d changed GP’s, my inhalers were running out and the GP refused to help. I went back with my care co-ordinator and suddenly I do have asthma and need a referral to the hospital.

    I put all my faith in Dr Google now! (Although that’s probably unwise!)

  19. i was suffering from repeated bouts of pancreatitus for over a year before i finally got a surgical consult on one of my visits to a&e. she did a simple blood test that confirmed the pancreatitus admitted me to hdu and got me straight onto the night i was finally diagnosed, the a&e dr had told me i was suffering from heart burn and wanted to send me home. had i gone, i could have died. i had previously been told my pain was due my very low blood count (due to self harm). just for the record pancreatitus is a life threatening illness. i have subsequently had to have major abdominal surgery.
    i also appear (no one evr gives me a definitive answer) to have angina due to lack of oxygen in my blood. this is again attributed to my blood loss due to self harm. despite the fact that in the periods when i manage not self harm, my blood count does not rise.
    iron,folic acid and b12 injections have done nothing for me. several transfusion prove to be only a temporary solution.
    investigation is slow. every dr i see wants to talk about self harm before they will even consider anything else. no matter what who i am seeing for what medical problem the first thing on my notes is always DSH (deliberate self harm).
    i do feel strongly that people with mental health difficulties are treated differently.

  20. There’s lots of us out there who avoid doctors like the plague.
    My own GP is fantastic for physical problems. But when I had a severe reaction to an antidepressant ~ ie not sleeping AT ALL for days on end, hallucinating, high as a kite for a week then crashing down like I’ve never been depressed before ~ and this ON the antidepressant, she told me this was “just side effects” and that I should have continued the pills for longer! I took those tablets for 5 weeks and the depression only got worse.
    Fair enough I only told her months later, after detailing the problem with mental health services, but seriously ~ what planet do some of these people live on? And aren’t they taught in medical school to LISTEN??
    I don’t go to GPs either unless it’s urgent , so I wouldn’t feel too bad about this. There’s loads of shit GPs out there.

  21. I don’t think I’ve been to my GP for anything other than mentalism since I was about fourteen, for fear of this happening.

    No wait, I went at the beginning of the year because I was having chest pains & I have permittent tachycardia but she told me it was anxiety and that my pulse was normal (without even taking it)…a pulse of 110 average is normal?! not on this planet i’m sure. My hospital psychiatrist is the only one that cared about my chest pain actually & sent me for REAL MEDICAL tests! weird.

    I always get worried they’re going to complain about my weight, it’s rocketed to insane levels since antipsychotics come into play, so I tend to only book appointments with the doctor who is around the same size as me so she can’t really complain!

  22. Finding a good GP is so fucking hard! i had one I loved and then had to move and couldn’t see her anymore. And now I have one I would not go to unless I was absolutely sure I was dying… I also refuse to see male doctors b/c I have terrible experiences with them not listening, not understanding, brushing me off etc… and I just think a lady doctor will understand me better esp. when it comes to lady things lol.

  23. I love finding this place! I am having a horrid time with both the psychiatrist and the GP. He, put me on Depakote and sent me away for three months. I gained two stone, lost hair, developed a skin condition, and became more lethargic and tired than ever. His response? Higher doses of Depakote and “eat celery”. Then he sent me away without a future appointment. Three weeks later and I was getting worse. With nothing from his office (they send appointment information via post and when you phone, you get an answer phone.) I went to my GP to see if she could offer help, assistance, advice, support. and she said, “The mental health care here is poor. Do you want me to write a letter?” Oh yeah, write a letter. Thanks.

    I’ve gone off the meds now, but it is going to take a long time to undo the damage caused by the medication. I am prone to becoming house bound and the extra weight, red blotches all over my face, etc. don’t help me build up the energy and nerve to walk out the front door.

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