Overcoming The Fear Of Visiting Doctors.
“Let me give it some days to see if it passes…” “It’s probably just gas…” “I prefer to not know...”
We’ve all at some time either heard somebody say it or may have even uttered the above phrases ourselves as to the reasons we don’t want or need to visit the doctor. Despite the pain and discomfort we may be experiencing, or due to the gap in time since our last check-up, we’ve convinced ourselves that there is no need to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment. There are many reasons for the myriad of excuses that inhibits us. It may be that you have had a bad experience before where you were yelled at, embarrassed or even mortified the last time you interfaced with anything resembling a healthcare facility, or you may genuinely believe that your health is in order. But then again, quite often, most of these justifications are rooted in overwhelming anxiety. The Cambridge online dictionary defines anxiety as “an uncomfortable feeling of nervousness or worry about something that is happening or might happen in the future.” The anxiety of the unknown, believing that something may be or may go wrong has prevented many from knowing and possibly treating a minor issue before it becomes major. Dr Andrew Rosen, director of the Centre for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders in Florida, explains that for the anxious person, not knowing what’s going to happen to them once they step in the doors of the doctor, concocts all the possible but negative outcomes within moments. A person who is anxious, “ fills in the blanks with only bad outcomes; “ I’ll be hurt!”, “I’ll be mistreated”, “ I’ll be diagnosed with some terrible disease!” or “ I’ll experience a host of excruciating pain! ”. Dr Barbara Cox, a psychologist based in San Diego, supports this belief explaining, “ many people feel anxious because they fear the unknown and they let their imagination run wild, they imagine a worse -case scenario, when in fact going for an annual check-up is the best prevention“. Within recent times, people for varying reasons including the need to remain anonymous, have turned to the Internet as a way to self-diagnose medical problems. They simply list out the symptoms they’ve been experiencing on a search engine, such as, “I’ve been having a pain in my lower abdomen for 5 days” or “ my left eye keeps twitching for the last 3 days” and Voila! , an array of answers are revealed which more times than not leads to unnecessary worry, especially if the erroneous diagnosis arrived at is grim and not based on empirical data.
How to break the cycle? If you are afraid that there may be something wrong, it’s even more important to schedule an appointment, this will help confirm or deny mere speculation. Additionally, knowing will allow you to get the appropriate treatment. Dr Romano states “ It’s not easy but even if you don’t receive a peachy diagnosis, that doesn’t change the facts. It simply means that you have a name for what ails you and you can begin treating and reducing pain and discomfort”. Moreover, worrying excessively about what can be wrong can affect your body adversely, resulting in diseases as high blood pressure. Romano states “ stressing yourself out about the ‘what ifs’ can actually make you sick “. So now that the facts are on the table and hopefully we've convinced you that you should pick up the phone and schedule a consultation with your doctor, here are some tips to get you through the time leading up to your appointment.
1. Acknowledge the anxiety for what it is! News Alert!! You are not alone, it is completely normal to feel anxious. Try not to be too hard on yourself for finding it challenging to book your appointment. That being said, the days leading up to your visit, try to focus on things that bring you joy, such as, watching your favourite TV show, hanging out with a friend that makes you laugh or exercising! Be intentional about your activities during this time as it will help distract you from the anxious thoughts that will try to plague your mind.
2. Your research on the Internet does not make you a doctor! Whatever you read cannot be erased from your mind. Dr Romana insists that you should not “ play doctor and cast judgments if you don’t have objective data from a qualified physician to confirm the presence of a health problem“.
3. Don’t sit idly in the waiting room! It’s the day of your appointment and you’re in the waiting area. Here are some ways to keep your mind at ease in the waiting room before your name is called:
Bring a book to read.
Challenge yourself with a crossword puzzle or word search puzzle.
Visit your favorite social media site.
Bring your headphones to enjoy your favorite music on your phone.
Bring a friend who will keep you cheerful.
4. Your doctor is on your side! The best thing you can do during your consultation is to be straightforward about your symptoms and even your fears to your doctor. At the end of the day, your doctor’s goal is to ensure that you stay as healthy as possible and to identify anything that may possibly grow into an out-of-control health problem.
The greatest feeling after your doctor's visit is walking out the door knowing that you have a better handle on your health and that you now have the answers and solutions that you’ve been looking for! We at Acropolis Medical recommend that you at least do an annual check-up as it will help you to avoid illnesses or lessen the severity of a chronic condition.
References • https://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advice/articles/2014/07/01/how-to-overcome-extreme-fear-of-doctors • https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/real-reason-going-doctor-gives-you-anxiety-ncna795566 • https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/anxiety • http://womenstherapyservices.com/doctor-visit-anxiety/