View Full Version : Odd affect? What does this mean?

Frayed Silence
09-03-2013, 11:53 AM
Hi All,

I was wondering what my consultants (two have said it) mean by 'she has a slightly odd affect'? Do they mean I have something wrong with my head? Why have they said such a strange thing when it was nothing to do with my condition - ent and orthopaedics? Did they maybe mean my physical condition puzzles them slightly and they hsave not had anyone like me with this hip, etc problem presenting like I am with symptoms?

Have any of you experienced people had this too and did the consultants, etc, give you an explanation as mine did not and just wrote behind my back (so much for patient-centred care!) and never offered an explanation themselves.

Thanks for any help or advice or experience you may be able to offer me.

Many thanks for your help and time.

Kind Regards


09-03-2013, 03:27 PM
Were they running tests? It can mean you have a slightly delayed reaction time, meaning a nerve problem.

09-04-2013, 03:24 PM
This does, on the face of it, seem an odd thing for a paediatrician or ent consultant to say. It sounds as though they're talking about the way you present yourself mentally, because in your quote he said: "...I am not sure what the reason for this is and have been unable to tease this from her or her mother'. It seems to me that if he was trying to get detailed physical information from you he would do so more by medical than verbal means.

The clues may be in the questions. Would you feel comfortable with writing what they actually say when they are trying to 'tease' this information from you?

I've just typed the word 'affect' into Google, and it has several psychological meanings. The one that seems to fit your situation is this: "Affect is a psychological term for an observable expression of emotion; a person's affect is the expression of emotion or feelings displayed to others through facial expressions, hand gestures, voice tone, and other emotional signs such as laughter or tears."

Hope this helps.


09-04-2013, 04:41 PM
I would take it as meaning that you are not communicative in a way that helps them help you. In other words, you have a problem that you've come to them about but are not able to connect with them in terms that can be helpful. Does that make sense?

Frayed Silence
09-06-2013, 12:04 PM
Hi Robocat

Thanks for your reply. The only tests they did were nasendoscopy up my nose for my chronic nasal issues (sinusitis, etc) and physical examination of my hip while I was lying on the bed. However, the hip examination he said was neurologically normal with no problems nerve wise.

One consultant's actual quote from the letter was that he was unsure why I had an odd affect and that he has not been able to tease out the reason why from me and my mother. It seems as if he, the one consultant, was trying to ask me and my mother strange stuff or trick questions to get an answer as to why I supposedly have an 'odd affect' on him. I find it odd that he has written this after the consultation and none of this came to light in the consultation until we have the letter. He did not ask any questions apart from about my hip.

The other consultant's one/quote in my notes is very similar, strangely enough, only saying I am 'unusal in affect' this time. Again, this consultant never asked about this to my face at the consultation anything about this which is why I find them weird in how they approach patients and write things like this behind their backs.

I feel it is a bit weird they have gone into this whereas it is actually to do with my nose and hip, not anything else. They do not go into it anymore than that on their letters.

I do wonder if this is a doctor habit they have and if anyone else has had this similar or even the same thing happen to them with their consultants, doctors, nurses, etc. I am begginning to think it is a trend here in the UK for doctors in particular to write totally irrelevant or strange things behind patients' backs.

I really am baffled by it and certainly dissappointed in them for burdening me with peculiar comments that do not fit.

Many thanks for your reply and question. :)

Kind regards


Frayed Silence
09-06-2013, 12:44 PM
Hi Bluefinch and Titchou

Thanks for both your replies.

Bluefinch, I totally agree, it does seem a strange thing to put about a patient in their notes, especially when it should only be about their hips or nose (repeated sinus infections) and not anything else. It seems so irrelevant, even if perhaps the consultant does not like certain patients. They seem to take it out on patients, blaming them for not being able to find out or be sure what is wrong with them. However, they did both find out I need surgery so cannot be imagining things, which I have been wrongly accused of in the past, causing unnecessary pain and distress. They have no idea how much their childish and peculiar comments on patients and in their notes effects those patients deeply, causing more worry and stress than before they saw them. He did do a physical examination of my hips. However, at no point in the consultation did he question me or my mother on this 'odd affect' thing he is obsessed about so much he wrote it in my notes. That is what I also find mighty strange - that he says he tried to tease it out but at no point did me or my mother suspect he had such odd thoughts and impressions in his mind and never made any of this clear in his consultation. He never once mentioned it or asked anything to do with it. This is why I do not know what he is talking about as it seems such a contradictory and irrelevant thing to put about someone who needs their hips or nose dealing with.

I cannot say much else on what he said when trying to apparently tease it out as he did not ask any questions other than about my hip, hip pain, what I can and cannot do now with bad hip, and physically examining it for signs of impingement or labral tear, which I have. It was an extremely brief consultation too. It only ever focused on my hip and why I had been sent all the way to their hospital to him rather than my local hospital who refused to do it due to fearing surgery on me because despite being cleared from neurological/nerve problems by a neurologist they would not take the risk of making me better so sent me to this judgemental man.

The only thing I can think right now and know is that a lot of doctors do seem to go down this route without thinking and doing it as a 'fashionable' thing to do. It just seems so sad that patients are judged so harshly by the very people supposed to help them, which they do not and instead cause more distress and pain by doing what they do. I only came to see him to get my hip repaired but it seems I have fallen prey to a judgmental and condescending doctor who does not realise how hurtful he is with his behaviour.

Titchou, I understand but I helped him a lot with his questions and answered every one clearly and with plenty of information and therefore he is the one who now should be helping me really as they are paid loads to do it and seem not to do the job they are paid loads for properly. I certainly will not connect with someone like that consultant who does not value patients' feelings. They are the ones who cause problems and upset patients all too commonly. If only they were a patient for at least a day, ideally a year, then maybe they would grow up and be more understanding towards patients. Sorry for my rant but it really has upset me that I rely on these doctors and all they do is write stupid or nonsensicle comments on their patients' notes which then follow these patients around, ruining also that patient's career. They never think about things like that which is what gets them into hot water. If this man wanted more info then maybe he could have spent less time writing stuff like that in patients' notes and more time with these patients to get this information and tell that patient if they feel they cannot understand the info or have not got enough info from the patient. The patient cannot always be blamed. I did everything I could for a positive, which it appeared on the day, consultation.

Many thanks both for your time and help. It is much appreciated.

Kind regards


09-08-2013, 11:21 AM
If all else fails, I'd come straight out and ask them, at your next consultation. Point out the page in your notes, and say "what do you mean by this?"

Best wishes,


09-08-2013, 05:11 PM
Hi There

I so totally agree with Bluefinch... just ASK the doctor!

Whatever thoughts anyone here might give, are honestly just conjecture. Whoever wrote it has the only true explanation. The best way to truly build a rapport with our doctors is to be totally honest. If he doesn't want to offer an explanation, then he is not the doctor for you.

This is obviously weighing heavily on you (it would me, also) so, in my opinion, I would just outright ask.

Good wishes

09-13-2013, 12:38 PM
An "odd" or "unusual" affect means that your body language, facial expression or verbal responses to questions were not typical of others who are seen for similar problems. For example, if someone was sitting glumly at a lively party, that would be considered an odd affect, or flat affect.

The reason it is written in your records is that it is typical to make a note of affect or mental status when providing medical care. It is routine.

Hope this helps.

Frayed Silence
09-30-2013, 02:53 PM
Hi bluefinch and reachout

Thanks both for your replies. Much appreciated. :)

You are both right. I agree. He will know the main reason why he also put it down and what it means. It may mean something totally different to what I am even thinking. I am not sure how to appoach him as he seems like he may not like me questioning him though and I cannot easily get through to talk to him on an informal basis as the secretary does not want to let me speak to him. Not sure why. I cannot even get an appointment as they have forgotten me and when I ask and they say they will do it (get me an appt) it does not get done.

I am a bit wary of doctors as they kind of scare me and I have had many bad experiences so it is hard to know what to do or how to talk to them. Especially when they have written something like this.

I agree, if he does not want to answer my question I will be discharging myself from him and being referred to a new one who will listen and answer my questions or worries, etc. That really is what doctors are there for as well as making us or helping us to get better.

Once again, many thanks for both your replies. :)

Frayed Silence
09-30-2013, 03:10 PM
Hi Brocallie

Thanks for your reply. :)

I am unique so maybe he was not used to someone like me. He has probably not seen someone like me before. However, I do (and many others, including nurses and tutors, I have spoken to outside of doctors/medical profession) not consider me to be 'odd' though in any way with regards my responses and behaviour towards him or anyone and still feel what he put is a strange and a bit offensive thing to put about someone. They would not like it if they had it written about them. I was polite, etc and answered his questions as he expected so am unsure why he would see me as any different or 'odder' than others.

It is not really something I would dare to write about anyone as it is not a very nice term to use and is a bit of an odd thing to put in my opinion as it has no relevance to my hip condition. He is meant to be examining my hips not my behaviour.

I can understand what you mean with regards it being normal or routine in medicine but to put it in the terms he has seems a bit unprofessional to me. My family also agree and are very unhappy about it and said they are also offended it is being written about their family member and daughter. This doctor does not even know me so cannot pretend he knows me suddenly by saying this, as this is what it feels like. My family know me and say I am not 'odd' and that there is 'nothing wrong with you. You are perfectly normal, nothing odd about you' and I believe them more than this doctor who only met me once.

Thanks for your help. It is appreciated. I am just fed up of 'odd' comments that will affect and harm my, and have done, health care from other doctors and nurses.... possibly future employment too. This worries me greatly and I will not be letting employers access my medical notes for this reason.

Best wishes :)

10-01-2013, 03:28 PM
I agree with the others that anything we come up with here will be just guessing at best so your only real option is to go directly to the source and ask him directly.

I know you said that they should only comment on stuff relating to your specific condition for why you went to see them in the first place, however, if a doctor finds something else that appears to be either amiss or odd then he will likely make a note of it in your chart. For example if an ENT sees a certain patient on a fairly regular basis and appears to always be depressed or sad or something of that nature, even though that's not related to anything ENT-wise, the doctor will most likely make a note of it on the patients chart. There's a so called general exam that most docs will do at any visit which includes a very basic overall impression that the doctor gets from speaking with the patient as it relates to their mental faculties. Are they alert and able to comprehend the questions? Do they seem like they have trouble expressing themselves? These could all point to a possible neurological issue that might get fleshed out of the doctor sees any other odd things after examining the patient.

So in your case, although you think you might have answered their questions clearly, it's possible they might have been trying to get to a specific point that you weren't hitting and they thought it was odd. I'm of course guessing here but based on what you said, that's what it seems like. I've had conversations with people where I felt like we both had our points but they were zigging while I was zagging and that made us both miss the point that each other was trying to make. It doesn't happen often but when it does it seems odd to the person trying to get the information or trying to get their information across. I don't think that you should get offended by it because it seems more like a miscommunication type situation than anything else. So next time you go see him, ask him what's up. You shouldn't be afraid to ask for clarity because sometimes doctors don't realize when they are speaking in too medical of a terminology for us laypeople to get where they're going. I've seen it happen a lot and the only way to get to the bottom line is ask for clarity. That's your best bet in my opinion.

Lil Lil
10-26-2013, 06:08 PM
"Affect" means "to change"

Both Doctors may have merely been documenting that you have an "odd" symptom that doesn't usually go along with the symptoms of your illness.

Doctors use ambiguous descriptions when they can't explain what they see, or what they're hearing.

A similar description is...idiopathic neuropathy. This describes nerve pain from an unknown source. Idiopathic means "unknown".

Sounds to me like your illness isn't "textbook"...and they don't know why.

Frayed Silence
11-20-2013, 06:21 AM
Hi Lil Lil

Thanks for your message and for clarifying what the term means and why they might have been using the term. I would guess then that most if not all patients will have such weird comments in their medical notes? The one doctor, despite acknowledging that my illness would cause the pain I have, felt it was more pain than he would assume goes with the illness but then again how can they tell? If they have not experienced it how would they know how much pain my illness causes? It is different for each individual. There is no standard for anything as such - some experience more pain or different presentation than others.

Kind regards


Frayed Silence
11-20-2013, 06:33 AM
Hi Kszan

Thanks for your reply. I see what you mean and it could very well be a miscommunication problem and I can understand that this would happen. Maybe the doctor could have actually explained it on the day and been a bit more specific in his questions or ask me specific things to get the information he needs out of me and then he would not have found me 'odd'. I will ask him next time I see him and let you all know what he says, as you are right in saying it is best to ask him as he will know why he put it and what he meant by it or what lead him to think that.

Kind regards