Doctor’s Office Anxiety – Do You Have a Fear of Doctors?

Doctor’s Office Anxiety – Do You Have a Fear of Doctors?

Have you ever delayed seeing your doctor out of fear or anxiety? Do you get anxious just thinking about the doctor’s office? If so, you’re not alone.

Experiencing anxiety over visiting the doctor is pretty common. In fact, there’s even an official medical term for it – iatrophobia – the fear of doctors or medical tests.

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What is Iatrophobia?

Before seeing the doctor, many people feel anxious or scared. Only three percent of the population have iatrophobia, which is an extreme fear of doctors. One survey found that one in three Americans avoid doctor visits, even when they think they need medical care.

Iatrophobia is an extreme and overwhelming fear that can affect anyone, regardless of background, age, or gender. A medical doctor, licensed psychiatrist, or clinical counselor must provide the diagnosis, which may be why statistics don’t match up.

Symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme feelings of dread or terror
  • Nausea
  • Profuse sweating (hyperhidrosis)
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate or heart palpitations (racing heart that may skip beats)
  • Shaking or trembling

What Causes Iatrophobia?

There can be several reasons for the onset of iatrophobia. People who suffer from anxiety disorder are at risk of iatrophobia. Those with long-term illnesses may fear doctors or medical treatment more than others.

People with iatrophobia typically have fears that include:

  • Abnormal lab result or unwelcome diagnosis
  • Procedures that involve needles or pain
  • Difficulty communicating with a doctor because of a language barrier
  • The doctor brushing off your concerns
  • Criticism of your weight or other habits
  • A repeat bad experience

Senior woman listening to music to relax.

How to Overcome and Manage Iatrophobia

Overcoming the fear of doctors can be challenging.

You must first acknowledge your feelings and not ignore your emotions or fears. Feeling scared is common, but don’t let it prevent you from seeking medical assistance. If fear is holding you back, it’s important to deal with it promptly. You need to take steps to overcome your fear so you can receive the care you need for Better Health.

For severe iatrophobia, a mental health professional can work with you to overcome your fear. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and anti-anxiety medications are popular methods in treating phobias like fear of doctors.

Other strategies you can try on your own include:

Schedule Your Visit on Your Time

Instead of letting the doctor’s office select your appointment time, you pick a day and a time that works best for you. Make sure you select a time during the day when you are the least rushed and stressed to help prevent a bout of white coat hypertension (when your blood pressure rises because of the stress you feel at a hospital or other medical facility).

For example, if you notice yourself becoming more agitated as the day goes on, schedule an early morning appointment to deal with it.

Bring a Family Member or Friend

Having a friend or family member with you as you sit and wait to get called back can provide a great distraction. They can keep you calm and be another set of ears if you’re prone to missing or forgetting things the doctor tells you.

Be Prepared

Knowing exactly what will happen during your appointment will help you mentally prepare for it. Call the clinic to discuss all the details of what you can expect. Take notes of any questions you think you will have based on the appointment’s agenda. Now you can be less stressed about the thought of forgetting to ask pertinent questions.

Making Going to the Doctor a Habit

The more times you visit your doctor, the easier it will get. You will begin to develop a relationship with your doctor and care team, who will work with you to make you feel comfortable.

Try to Relax

Easier said than done, we know. But try doing something that calms you leading up to your appointment and as you wait in the waiting room. Listen to music or practice breathing techniques.

Beat Your Fear and Schedule Your Appointment Today

To ensure you are preventing illness and detecting any potential issues early, make sure you visit your doctor regularly. Routine care can also possibly help lower your healthcare costs, which is another reason people avoid the doctor.

Don’t let an intense fear of doctors stand in the way of seeking medical care. Schedule an appointment with a VIPcare provider today! Your VIPcare provider will help to ease your fears and concerns, helping to make you comfortable and healthy.

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