Skip to content

    Mental Health Center

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Denying Health Issues Can Be Deadly

    Getting past fear and excuses are the first steps towards preventing health issues before they go too far.
    By
    WebMD Feature

    Denial can be deadly. This is particularly true when it comes to health issues. Many of us can envision friends, family, or spouses who, for no good reason, kick and scream at the thought of seeing the doctor, even for a physical.

    Wait a minute. No good reason? "Deniers" have plenty of "good" reasons for ignoring health problems: "I don't have time." "I'm perfectly fine (minus that daily headache and high cholesterol)." "What are they going to tell me that I don't know anyway?" "I don't like being around sick people."

    Recommended Related to Mental Health

    Work it Out: Dealing with Job Stress

    It's 9 p.m., and you're still at work. You can't relax at home with unfinished work on your desk. And if you don't get this done, your boss will be upset. At least, that's what you think. It isn't the work that leaves you unable to relax. It's that you see the work as a threat. Stress is not a reaction to an event but rather to how you interpret the event, says psychologist Allan R. Cohen, PsyD. You think, "If I don't work late every night, I will get fired," or "My boss won't like me," or "My...

    Read the Work it Out: Dealing with Job Stress article > >

    For Atlanta management consultant Steffanie Edwards' mother, who is battling several health issues including obesity, it was, "'I tried. I stopped eating sweets but nothing's happened,' which I know isn't true because I see evidence that there were sweets around; the cookie bags, the potato chips, so I know she's not doing as well as she could," Edwards says.

    Edwards tells WebMD she has expressed concerns to her 60-year-old mother about the health issues and their long-term toll. "She has hypertension and diabetes, and she's obese, and she had to have both knees replaced. It was told to her that if she lost the weight, a lot of her ailments would go away, and she hasn't been able to do it," she says. "Specifically, there's denial around her diabetes in that she doesn't think she has it anymore although she has not cut sweets or sugar out of her diet."

    She says the obesity issue has always been a sensitive one. "She didn't want to talk about it and she didn't want to exercise. So that's all there was to it. It just wasn't talked about."

    Warning Signs Are There for a Reason

    It is common for people to get the cold shoulder when they express concern about their loved one's health problems. But if you're the one doing the denying, shrugging off red flags from your body now can limit your options for treatment later.

    "I think that sometimes we don't want to face the reality that our health has changed to the negative," Jeanette Newton-Keith, MD, assistant professor of medicine in the department of gastroenterology at University of Chicago, tells WebMD. "Many conditions can be prevented or reversed if treated early, but [over time] some progress to the point where they require medication, surgery, or other interventions. So it's important to not ignore the warning signs for health in general."

    1 | 2 | 3 | 4

    Today on WebMD

    contemplation
    Differences between feeling depressed or feeling blue.
    lunar eclipse
    Signs of mania and depression.
     
    man screaming
    Causes, symptoms, and therapies.
    woman looking into fridge
    When food controls you.
     
    Woman standing in grass field barefoot, wind blowi
    Article
    senior man eating a cake
    Article
     
    Phobias
    Slideshow
    woman reading medicine warnings
    Article
     
    depressed young woman
    Article
    man with arms on table
    Article
     
    veteran
    Article
    man cringing and covering ears
    Article
     

    WebMD Special Sections