It’s common to get anxious when you have to deal with medical professionals. Whether you need to see a doctor and are worried about what they might say or you’re going to the dentist and are afraid of going through a procedure, anxiety can have a huge impact on your life and can make it difficult to perform your day to day tasks. And, having an appointment on the calendar may be making it hard to focus on work or family life. Here are a few tips for coping with anxiety around medical appointments.
Anxiety or phobia?
There is a condition known as iatrophobia, a fear of doctors, which affects around 3% of the population. Phobias can often be improved through the use of therapies such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and other specialized treatments. However, unless you’re in the 3%, your negative feelings are more likely to be anxiety.
It might be helpful to think about why you have anxiety so that you can work through it. Could it be:
- The act of having to go to the doctor and spending time in the waiting room etc.
- Fear of bad news or getting a lecture from your doctor about your health
- Anxiety about a specific procedure, i.e. getting a root canal or having a shot
- Social anxiety from having to speak to doctors, nurses, and other staff
Identifying what you’re nervous about can help you work through it and overcome that general sense of dread.
Find coping mechanisms
There are a number of ways that you can ease anxiety around your medical appointments. Firstly, consider taking someone with you, especially if it’s an initial appointment or you’re going for something like a test result. Some people find the waiting difficult, so try not to turn up too early, and if you feel particularly anxious, then try breathing exercises and other coping skills.
It’s worth calling your doctor or dentist’s office beforehand and making them aware that you have anxiety, as they may want to schedule more time for you and may be able to make suggestions to ease your anxiety. Dentists, for example, may take time to show you their Kent Express dental supplies and explain what they will do with them so you aren’t as scared when they begin a procedure.
Some people suffer from what’s known as white coat hypertension, where they become anxious while in a clinical setting, despite not suffering anxiety at home. This can often be because of the presence of people in white coats or seeing medical equipment. General anti-anxiety techniques can help with the condition, but in some cases, people may need to take medication to get through their appointment. It can also help to see a doctor who offers a more homely, welcoming environment.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Anxiety is a very common condition that’s estimated to affect around 40 million Americans, so there’s no need to feel embarrassed about asking for extra help. The staff at your doctor or dentist’s office will have dealt with many, many people who are anxious about their appointments, and they’ll often have procedures in place for nervous patients. What’s important is not to put off the appointment, as the longer you leave it, the worse your anxiety is likely to become.