Living with Chronic Pain
5 Tips for Dealing With Unsolicited Treatment Suggestions
Family members, friends, colleagues, and others may be quick to offer unsolicited treatment suggestions if you develop an injury, illness, or chronic condition. While some people welcome the advice, others find it difficult to deal with. Perhaps it goes against treatments prescribed by a medical professional, or it requires a lot of money, time, or energy.
Unsolicited treatment suggestions can make you feel like you are not doing enough for your health. Most people have good intentions when offering treatment advice; however, it can result in anxiety, worry, stress and fear.
Five tips for dealing with unsolicited treatment suggestions include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Check with a medical professional. If you are interested or curious about a particular treatment suggestion, talk to a health care professional. They can help determine what may be helpful or harmful. They can also advise on interactions that may occur with your current treatment plan.
- Thank the person without acknowledging the treatment suggestion. It is important to remember that suggestions are usually given with the best of intentions. If a friend had success with an alternative treatment or a family member saw something on the news that they genuinely think would help, it makes sense for them to share the information. They may not realize that these suggestions can cause stress or frustration. Simply say “thank you for thinking of me” without acknowledging the specific suggestion. For example, saying “thank you, but I do not think that will work for me” opens the door for disagreement. Keep the response polite and short.
- Remain calm. Unsolicited treatment suggestions are often frustrating. However, getting upset and responding emotionally can contribute to stress, which worsens symptoms of many illnesses and conditions. Take a few deep breaths and respond with compassion.
- Ignore the treatment suggestion entirely. This tip is particularly helpful if a suggestion is offered through online communication, such as email or social media. You can choose not to respond or engage, and just ignore the suggestion.
- Be honest with the person offering the suggestion. If treatment suggestions are from a family member or close friend, it may be worthwhile to let them know that you are not looking for additional treatments. Remind them that a medical professional is in charge of your treatment decisions. Advising them that it is not a desired topic of conversation can help set boundaries, which may prevent future treatment suggestions.