Feature Archive

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 Cherie Berkley, MS
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD

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."

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."