Woman’s Persistent Headaches Misdiagnosed As Depression When She Actually Had A Deadly Brain Tumour

A newly married woman who suffered constant headaches went to a doctor for treatment and was diagnosed with depression because of her symptoms. However, she suffered seizures after some time, and after detailed tests, a big tumour was detected in her brain. Read on to learn how the deadly disease is often misdiagnosed in women.

Updated Sep 19, 2023 | 04:55 PM IST

brain tumour

Helen Hannam began experiencing tunnel vision and after visiting her doctor she diagnosed with depression

New Delhi: A young woman from the UK was diagnosed by doctors suffering from depression and migraine, but she actually had a brain tumour, a report published in The Mirror said.
Thirty-six-year-old Helen Hannam said she had just returned from her honeymoon overseas when she began experiencing tunnel vision. After a visit to the doctor, Helen was diagnosed with depression, due to similar symptoms.
However, the newly married Hannam rejected the diagnosis and did not even take the prescribed anti-depressants.
"By the time Mark and I moved into our new house, I was feeling sick in the mornings. My colleagues assumed I was pregnant, but I had taken tests and knew I wasn't. I struggled to get an appointment after registering at a new doctor's surgery but, when I did, that GP diagnosed me with depression, which I knew I didn’t have, and prescribed me anti-depressants, which I never collected," she told NorthantsLive.
Later, Helen suffered a seizure and was rushed to the hospital, where she suffered two more seizures.
"All of a sudden, my eyes rolled to the back of my head and I had my first seizure. I had two further seizures in hospital and was eventually told I had a mass in my brain," she added.
After tests, doctors found a mass in her brain and a tumour was discovered. Doctors said had it not been for the seizures, she could have died within a month.
Helen is currently being treated and she hopes to be completely fine soon.

What is a brain tumour?

According to the NHS, a brain tumor is a growth of abnormal cells in the brain and can develop in any part of the brain or skull, including its protective lining, the underside of the brain, the brainstem, the sinuses, and the nasal cavity, and many other areas.
Doctors say there are more than 120 different types of tumours that can develop, depending on what tissue they arise from.
Harvard Health says brain tumors are dangerous because they can put pressure on healthy parts of the brain or spread into those areas by blocking the flow of fluid around the brain which can lead to an increase in pressure inside the skull.
Some types of tumors can spread through the spinal fluid to distant areas of the brain or the spine.

Signs and symptoms of brain tumour

There are many signs of a brain tumour which may be similar to that of a depression, and hence many people get misdiagnosed till more tests are conducted.
A few of them are:

Chronic and persistent headaches

Doctors say frequent and severe headaches persist over time and may worsen in intensity as they usually occur in the morning. Headaches that result from brain tumours are often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

Change in vision

If you suffer from a tumour, you may experience blurred or double vision, loss of peripheral vision, or hearing problems.


Brain tumours often accompany unexplained seizures or convulsions. These manifest as uncontrollable shaking or jerking movements.

Weakness and numbness

Weakness and numbness in the arms or legs are indicative of brain tumours which often increase with time and begin affecting the motor pathways.
They also cause coordination problems and difficulty in balancing.

Nausea and vomiting

Nausea and vomiting usually happen during the mornings and become more severe with time
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