So, are you afraid of doctors? Do you skip doctor visits because of the anxiety? If the answer to these questions is “yes,” then learn that you aren’t alone! This condition called “doctor anxiety” isn’t common, but certain studies have shown that some 3% of Americans suffer from an irrational fear of doctors. We have called it irrational because “iatrophobia” or “the fear of doctors” isn’t a healthy condition. It’s triggered – some experts believe – by the fear of the unknown, i.e., you don’t know what’s going to happen to you. “Are you going to receive bad news? Will you have to undergo treatment?”
The good news is you can overcome the white-coat syndrome. And we’ll help you learn how to do that.
How do you overcome the fear of doctors?
But you may ask: “What in the world is the white-coat syndrome?” Blood pressure readings in a healthcare provider’s office are usually higher. It happens because people fear the people measuring their blood pressure, i.e., the white-coat-wearing doctors. We know, therefore, that this “doctor anxiety” can exist in many forms. What are the outcomes? Studies show that some 60% of Americans delay doctor visits for several reasons ranging from money issues to the fear of discovering a disease. However, this phobia’s irrational because delaying these visits won’t prevent the disease from manifesting. Now, here’s how people can manage their iatrophobia:
- Educate yourself properly
Learning about your condition can help you overcome the fear of doctor visits. Remember that your fear sprouts from ignorance, i.e., you’re not sure what kind of diagnosis awaits you. Many people, for example, get conditions like peritoneal mesothelioma from prolonged asbestos exposure. They can overcome the “doctor anxiety” by educating themselves about mesothelioma, its symptoms, and all treatment options. Bolstering your knowledge makes you more comfortable with doctor visits.
- Find the reason
The phobia of doctors emerges from specific hidden reasons. For instance, some people are afraid of some medical procedures or don’t wish to receive a disappointing diagnosis about their well-being. Some may fear needles (“trypanophobia”), while others may not like blood tests. You should find the exact reason why doctor visits scare you. Dealing with these reasons can help you overcome “doctor anxiety.”
- Know the signs
Know the signs of iatrophobia if you believe you don’t suffer from this condition. Many people seem nervous before doctor visits. But this fear isn’t healthy if you keep rescheduling your appointments. If you prefer self-healing instead of seeing a doctor, then your fear isn’t just anxiety but a phobia. So, knowing these signs can determine if you must see a licensed therapist. Sometimes, even the fear of the sickness may prevent you from visiting a doctor. That’s why you must check your signs.
- Regulate your breathing
Focus on your breathing while attending a meeting with your healthcare provider. You’ll notice that your breathing becomes shorter, shallower, and more difficult when you suffer from stress. Control your breathing, therefore, to make yourself calmer. Perform some breathing exercises, e.g., the 4-7-8 technique. In this method, you inhale to the count of 4, hold your breath to the count of 7, and then exhale to the count of 8. That’s how you can relax, release stress, and become calmer.
- Schedule it conveniently
Stop delaying the upcoming visit to the hospital and schedule it, considering your comfort. Here’s an example: Some people are more stressed in the morning, so they should avoid visiting a doctor then. Schedule this visit when you’re the most comfortable to overcome your anxiety. Don’t let doctor visits conflict with your other plans. Schedule an afternoon appointment if you think it can be easier for you. Scheduling conflicts often keep people mentally absent during these visits.
- Take someone along
Around 50% of teenagers never visit a doctor without a parent or a guardian present. However, experts suggest even adults should consider bringing someone with them when they want to visit a healthcare professional. Your friends or family can keep you company while you are on your way to and back from the hospital. This practice will make you more comfortable.
- Bring some questions
Patients should write down their questions so they may ask everything they can about their conditions. Remember that effectively communicating with your healthcare provider can help you easily conquer your iatrophobia. Writing down these queries will make you confident while putting your mind off the fear of the upcoming appointment.
- Bring some distraction
What can you do when suffering from intense “doctor anxiety”? Bring some distractions with you to stay busy at the clinic. You can take a book or download some of your favorite shows/films on your phone. Keep your mind engaged in these activities to remain stress-free. While waiting for your turn, try to solve some crossword puzzles. Engaging in these distractions can help you overcome this phobia.
- Know what happens
Since this phobia emerges from the fear of the unknown, learn what happens when visiting a doctor. For instance, have your vitals checked by the end of the visit. Ask your doctor what’s to be expected from the meeting before the visit. What sort of test has been planned for you? Knowing, therefore, can ease your pain and release your anxiety. Don’t keep yourself in the dark and conquer this phobia by educating yourself – as we mentioned in the first suggestion on this list.
Surveys indicate that more than one-fifth of Americans haven’t visited a doctor in over five years. We believe delaying doctor visits aren’t healthy or even financially reasonable. Some folks are afraid of doctors. So, they can cure this fear by educating themselves properly about their conditions. It helps if you bring a friend or family member with you. Bring some distractions as well as the questions you wish to ask. Regulate your breathing when visiting the healthcare provider to release your stress. Schedule visits to make yourself comfortable and prepare yourself mentally for the upcoming appointment. Know what sort of tests you have to take. That’s how you can conquer this “doctor anxiety” and stay stress-free during your visit.