medical gaslighting

Medical GasLighting With Stephanie Ewals

In a recent Fatigue Your Fix podcast episode, I sat down with Stephanie Ewals, a board-certified and licensed nutritionist and host of the Help for Hashimoto’s podcast. We discussed the topic of medical gaslighting — which has unfortunately become a bit of a buzzword lately. Here are some key takeaways from our conversation.

Common Gaslighting Tactics

Medical gaslighting is a real phenomenon whereby people visit their traditional medical practitioner with a range of symptoms and basically get dismissed or told they are “just getting older.”

To be fair, this gaslighting isn’t necessarily the doctor’s fault; they are taught a certain way, and they typically have only a few minutes to see patients. They are also part of a broken healthcare system that isn’t set up to get to the root causes of problems, but rather to prescribe medications and address acute problems, not chronic illness.

What’s often more damaging, however, is the gaslighting that makes you feel discounted, dismissed, too emotional, lazy, or incapable of handling stress. So, for example, the person who could use a closer look at their thyroid instead gets put on an antidepressant or birth control — or offered a hysterectomy (more on that below). Let’s look at some of the most common forms of medical gaslighting.

“You’re Just Getting Older”

My story comes from dealing with years and years of struggling with really low energy and feeling sick and blah all the time — just always thinking, “Gosh, I think I have the flu” because I always felt kind of nauseous and unwell. It was easy to chalk up the fatigue, depression, and anxiety as just stress from college.

Even when I got my thyroid tested, the results always came back “normal.” And this is where the medical gaslighting began. Ultimately, it all culminated in a diagnosis of thyroid cancer many years down the road. Meanwhile, along the way, I had delayed my health progress because I was told I was just getting older, even in my early 20s.

“You’re a Woman, So This Is Normal”

Another one I’ve heard: “You’re a woman, and your hormones fluctuate. So that’s why you feel like A, B, and C.” Essentially, you’re told that you’re supposed to have migraines and headaches and be out of commission with heavy, horrible, disgusting periods because you’re a woman. “You can just take this birth control and that will solve all your problems,” they’ll tell you.

Over time, you get so used to experiencing medical gaslighting that you start to think you’re lazy, that you’re supposed to suffer, and that you should just accept the way things are because it’s supposedly “normal.”

“Get a Hysterectomy”

Stephanie recalls being told to try endometrial ablation for heavy periods, a process whereby you have a thin lining of tissue removed from the uterus. When she didn’t qualify for ablation, she was offered a hysterectomy.

This practice is more common than you might think, as Stephanie learned in speaking with a doctor who had seen countless 20-year-olds who had already undergone hysterectomies. She says, “Doctors would ask, ‘Do you plan on having kids?’ Well at 20, I didn’t plan on having kids either. And they said no. And then they’re like, okay, we’ll take your uterus out and then you won’t bleed anymore.”

Young women who make such a huge, life-altering decision at 20 years old will never get the chance to change their minds about having biological children.

Times Are Changing

Older generations took the doctor’s word as gospel, but nowadays, younger generations are no longer simply passengers on the bus when it comes to their health. They’re questioning doctors’ advice and taking a more proactive approach to their health needs. And if one provider is giving off gaslighting vibes, they’re beginning to see there’s no reason not to switch providers.

If you don’t take that proactive approach, your health issues could go on for decades before being properly diagnosed. You’ll prolong the issues instead of getting the help you need to start feeling better, faster. You might even wind up making a life-changing decision like getting hysterectomy or quitting gymnastics (one doctor’s advice given to a friend of Stephanie’s as a “remedy” for insomnia when she was a young teenager).

You see, doctors typically won’t tell you they don’t have the answer for you — whether for lack of a good referral network or an unwillingness to admit that something isn’t their area of expertise. Many doctors would rather leave you with a prescription than send you to a specialist or agree to further lab testing.

You must self-advocate, and you must do the work. As one of my clients recently reminded me, do something now that your future self will thank you for.

Let’s Connect!

Say goodbye to fatigue and hello to a full and vibrant life! Join me over in my Facebook group where we are talking all about how to take back control of your health!

Be sure to follow me on my FacebookTikTokInstagram and Pinterest for tips and tricks on how to use nutrition to live your very best life! ​

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Have You Experienced Medical Gaslighting?

We live in a world where conventional medical practitioners are not set up to accommodate anything that falls outside traditional medicine. While they may have good intentions, these professionals often unwittingly participate in what’s known as medical gaslighting — a maddening process where doctors make you question your perception of the realities of your health. It’s why I rarely go to professionals in conventional medical practices. And unfortunately, I’m not alone in the feeling that medical gaslighting is more common than we think. Here are some common scenarios I’ve either encountered myself or that clients have experienced when seeking medical care.

When You Present Outside the Scope of Standard Symptoms

Let’s say you go to the doctor with symptoms that don’t link you directly with some kind of illness or condition. The traditional doctor dismisses you, attributing your symptoms to, say, getting older. This type of medical gaslighting most often happens in the beginning stages when you’re first trying to figure out why you feel tired, lethargic, achy, or just not like yourself. More than likely, the doctor will give you some kind of prescription to help those symptoms, but they won’t actually look into what’s actually causing your symptoms. For me, this medical gaslighting started in my early 20s and went on for many years.

When They Minimize Your Symptoms

Right along with the first scenario is the one where your doctor minimizes your symptoms. For instance, my symptoms of fatigue could be attributed to numerous things that might be benign. Still, the doctor never considered the bigger picture where fatigue could be caused by something underlying. When I think back, I was fatigued from an early age, always hitting the snooze button, needing more sleep than others my age, and having a difficult time even getting out of bed.

The traditional doctor would have me believe this is normal and not a big deal. Basically, the message is to “suck it up.” That message often becomes louder later in life when more issues arise, like chronic sinus infections or other illnesses. There was a time when every fall, I would get so sick that I would be in bed and not functional for a couple of months. When I tried to dig deeper to request a specialist, the doctor told me it wasn’t a big deal and that a lot of people get sick in the fall.

When You Question Your Own Sanity

Medical gaslighting, like the gaslighting you might see in a toxic relationship, can make you question your own sanity. When you try to get help for your symptoms, the doctor might make you feel like there’s something wrong in your head, and it can really do a number on the psyche.

As a result of medical gaslighting, I experienced mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. I questioned whether I was making up symptoms. I began taking medication for clinical depression, and while it took the edge off, I still couldn’t function normally. When I told my therapist I was still sad and depressed and asked when things would get better, she looked at me like I had three heads and she just said, “You just keep going to therapy and you keep taking your meds and that’s all you need to do.”

I’m not against therapy or psychiatric meds if you need them. However, sometimes you need to look beyond that to see what’s happening biochemically underneath it all.

When You Have Lab Work Refusal

Lab work refusal is another big one when it comes to medical gaslighting. Along with that is a kind of “shaming” for doing your own research. You end up feeling like you’re pulling teeth to get lab work done and try to get to the bottom of your symptoms.

While it’s true that laypersons might not understand the minutiae of medical science, they can learn enough to ask questions. I experienced this after having thyroid cancer and surgery. Three years afterward, I was still feeling like garbage, even with the medications my doctor prescribed. I asked my general practitioner to run some basic labs for that, and she said, “No, you’re too young for that. Insurance won’t cover it.” Even when I offered to pay cash, she still said she couldn’t write an order for that. Her hands were tied by a medical system that doesn’t consider that even young people can have underlying issues.

Final Thoughts

If you’ve experienced medical gaslighting, you might get to a point where you feel hopeless and defeated. You might think there’s nothing you can do and that you should just accept things. However, I’m proof it’s worth investigating your symptoms with a non-traditional medical professional.

If you’re looking for one-on-one support from someone who won’t gaslight you into thinking your symptoms are nothing, consider the All Year Resolution Membership. At $50 a month, it’s a fraction of the cost of working with someone at this level to get the support you need. You’ll start feeling better, faster, and actually overcome and resolve health issues.

Have you ever experienced medical gaslighting? I would love some feedback on your experiences. Message me at

Let’s Connect!

Say goodbye to fatigue and hello to a full and vibrant life! Join me over in my Facebook group where we are talking all about how to take back control of your health!

Be sure to follow me on my FacebookTikTokInstagram and Pinterest for tips and tricks on how to use nutrition to live your very best life!

Have You Experienced Medical Gaslighting? Read More »