Fight for the right to be diagnosed

Women have come a long way to go when it comes to getting rights.  However, being taken seriously is still an uphill battle.  In many cases, not being taken seriously can have life threatening consequences.

When it comes to getting diagnosed with medical conditions, women have a much later diagnose rate than men.  This is problematic, especially when diseases that are able to be caught early are left alone, which can make it worse.

According to a 2019 World Economic Forum article, “Women tend to be diagnosed with disease later than men” by Cecilie Krabbe, “Women received diagnoses later than men in connection with 770 types of diseases. There was an average difference of about four years. In case of cancer, women were on average diagnosed two and a half years later than men. For metabolic diseases such as diabetes, women were on average diagnosed about four and a half years later. In connection with ADHD, there was a difference of almost six years between the time when the two groups received diagnoses. The boys were about 14 years old, while the girls were about 20 years old.”

This large gap in diagnose rate causes women to suffer for much longer than necessary. The reason why is what can potentially lead to death.

According to a 2018 WebMd article, “Why Women Struggle to Get The Right Diagnosis” by Gina Shaw, “Experts say things can make it difficult for women to get an accurate diagnosis.  In some cases, women and men have different symptoms when they have the same condition – and doctors are more used to recognizing the male version. For decades, the male body was the standard for health and disease in medical research. Even though Congress passed a law in 1993 requiring clinical trials studying diseases and treatments to include women as well as men, more recent studies suggest that not nearly enough progress has been made in including women in health research and understanding how being a woman affects health.”

Women are also accused of overreacting to pain caused by their illnesses or often times they are just disregarded and told that it is menstruation or menopausal related.  By not being taken seriously, the illnesses can get worse and even un-diagnosed until it is too late.

However, women are not the only ones who suffer due to the lack of attention given by doctors.  Men are much less likely to be diagnosed with mental illnesses than women.

According to a 2016 American Journal of Men’s Health article “Reviewing the Assumptions About Men’s Mental Health: An Exploration of the Gender Binary” by Dena T. Smith, PHD, Dwane M. Mouzon, PHD, and Marta Elliot, PHD, “Women tend to have higher rates of internalizing disorders (i.e., depression), while men experience more externalizing symptoms (i.e., violence). These patterns are often attributed to gender differences in socialization (including the acquisition of expectations associated with traditional gender roles), help seeking, coping, and socioeconomic status. However, measurement bias (inadequate survey assessment of men’s experiences) and practitioner’s subconscious tendency to overlook male distress may lead to underestimates of the prevalence of depression and anxiety among men.”

The bias between genders in the medical field is causing unnecessary harm to people who need and deserve help.  However, by believing that some are being “dramatic” or simply thinking that having depression is a hindrance to their masculinity, people are not getting help they need to live a full life.

By letting an opinion or bias decide what is ailing someone rather than facts, people are not getting the care they need.  It is important to not let these things impact decisions when in a care field such as medicine.