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How To Reduce Anxiety At The Doctor’s Office?

Let’s get real here: A vast majority of adults do not particularly enjoy going to the doctor’s office.  

A lot of us associate a visit to the doctor’s office with unpleasant things like blood, disease, illness, a huge medical bill, and just bad news in general. 

While experiencing a certain degree of fear and hesitation when it comes to seeing a doctor is fairly normal, experiencing a full-blown panic attack or a meltdown is less than ideal. 

Know this – If you follow the tips we provide in this article, you will feel much more in control of your anxiety as well as your physical health when you walk out of that door after your next doctor’s appointment. 

In this article, we will cover in detail why individuals are prone to anxiety at the thought of visiting a doctor’s office. 

We will also give you 5 expert suggestions and tips on how to battle the anxiety that you experience while seeing a doctor.  

Read on to find out more about how to successfully manage your anxiety before your next doctor’s visit. 

Phobias That Could Be The Reason Behind Your Anxiety 

It is important for an individual to understand that there could be a myriad of reasons behind why you experience anxiety when you visit a doctor. 

Nobody enjoys paying a visit to the doctor’s clinic but most of us quickly realize that it is vital to seek treatment when we are ill and end up seeing a doctor, sometimes reluctantly.  

But for a few of us, merely the thought of going to a hospital or seeing a doctor even for a routine check-up can cause extreme anxiety. 

Multiple phobias could be contributing to your anxiety. 

Recognizing the reason behind why you experience anxiety at the doctor’s office is a great way to understand the root cause behind your anxious thought patterns. 

We have made a list of the top 10 common phobias that could be associated with your anxiety: 

1) NOSOCOMEPHOBIA – Fear of hospitals. 

2) IATROPHOBIA – An irrational fear of doctors or visiting a doctor. 

3) HEMOPHOBIA – Fear of blood 

4) TRYPANOPHOBIA – Fear of hypodermic needles and injections or procedures involving it. 

5) DENTOPHOBIA – Fear of visiting the dentist.  

6) MYSOPHOBIA / GERMOPHOBIA – Fear of germs. 

7) THANATOPHOBIA – Fear of death. 

8) NOSOPHOBIA – Fear of contracting or having a disease 

9) PHARMACOPHOBIA – Fear of medications 

10) CARCINOPHOBIA – Phobia of having or finding out that you have cancer. 

Experiencing Anxiety Before A Doctor’s Appointment. 

Many people experience reluctance and anxiety when it comes to scheduling a doctor’s appointment. 

Few others also experience anxiety while waiting for the scheduled date to arrive. 

The anxiety you experience during the waiting period after making an appointment or before scheduling one is what is commonly known as ‘appointment anxiety.’ 

People who experience this type of anxiety end up making excuses for missing their appointment or somehow convince themselves that their condition is not that serious and avoid scheduling an appointment altogether. 

Visiting a doctor can be the most stressful thing in your life and you may spend a long time being preoccupied with overwhelming thoughts about how it could go wrong. 

It is important to note that avoidance behavior can often prove fatal for an individual.  

For most people, the major source of anxiety before a doctor’s appointment is the anticipation of terrible news related to their health. 

If the fear of bad news is what deters you from scheduling an appointment or you find yourself thinking of excuses to miss visiting the doctor on the scheduled date, understand this – 

Stressing yourself out to the point where you are experiencing anxiety attacks is a surefire way to make yourself sicker. 

It is easier for you to just see the doctor on the scheduled date and find out the cause of your illness instead of making up worst-case scenarios in your head. 

5 Tips To Calm Anxiety Before A Doctor’s Appointment 

There are certain useful tips and strategies that you can employ to beat the anxiety that you experience before the big day. 

We assure you, these tips are guaranteed to help ease your anxiety and make you feel confident about visiting the doctor. 

1. Acknowledge Your Appointment Anxiety 

To overcome any form of anxiety, the first and foremost step is to validate your feelings, followed by accepting them.  

Instead of choosing to ignore your anxiety, try accepting it and then being gentle on yourself. 

For example, try reminding yourself of the times when you visited a doctor in the past and came back home feeling relieved.  

Remind yourself that if there is anybody who will benefit from this appointment, it is you. 

You can also make plans to treat yourself with something that you enjoy doing after the appointment.  

Whether it is spending the rest of the day binge-watching your favorite show or eating an entire tub of ice cream, having a post-appointment plan can help ease your anxiety. 

It can also serve as a motivation for you to visit the doctor and help reduce your anxious thoughts.  

2. Have A Plan 

Once you become aware that you are prone to having anxiety before and during an appointment, it is wise to start planning ahead of time to avoid any undesirable circumstances. 

You have to accept the possibility that the diagnosis could potentially be something that you would not like to hear about. 

Meditation and Yoga are wonderful techniques to gain a certain degree of control over your anxiety. 

If you already seek therapy for your anxiety, it is a great idea to discuss the situation with your therapist and chart a plan that can help you cope with it. 

Before the appointment, make a list of all the allergies, phobias, and questions you may have. 

By staying prepared before time, you take out the chances of encountering any surprise elements during your visit, thus giving you a sense of control over your anxiety. 

3) Stay Away From Google 

Resisting the urge to google our symptoms is tough for almost all of us. 

However, if you are prone to health anxiety or anxiety before visiting a doctor, it is almost a necessity for you to not let your curiosity win. 

When we look for a diagnosis on the internet, we are bombarded with a list of potential disorders that we may be dealing with. 

Most of these disorders that we read about are extreme and in most cases, we do not suffer from them. 

However, individuals prone to anxiety may be tempted to believe that they suffer from the worst disorder listed on the internet and it is an absolute downward spiral thereon.  

Promising yourself to stay away from the internet and not checking your symptoms can be the biggest gift you can give yourself if you are prone to anxiety. 

4) Inform The Doctor’s Office About Your Anxiety Beforehand. 

If you are absolutely certain that once you get to the doctor’s office you will be faced with crippling anxiety, it would be a wise move to inform the clinic beforehand.  

A good hospital or clinic will know precisely how to deal with individuals who suffer from anxiety before a doctor’s appointment. 

Contrary to popular belief, appointment anxiety is fairly common. 

There is a high probability that the hospital has already dealt with people in the past who are prone to having anxiety attacks before an appointment and they know how to handle it. 

Informing the clinic or hospital beforehand gives the hospital staff and the doctor plenty of time to prepare for your arrival. 

You can also call the doctor’s office before your appointment and ask them for a basic gist of what you can expect during the appointment. 

You will be amazed at how cooperative and helpful most doctors and nursing staff are. 

They are often more than willing to give you a preview and an overview of what you can expect during your appointment. 

5) Focus On The Present And Stay Positive 

Most of the anxiety you feel is your body’s response to stress. 

Avoid thinking about the future and anticipating the worst outcome. You have no control over the diagnosis. 

What you can control at this point are your thoughts. 

Reciting positive affirmations can also help you hope for the best and not fear the worst. 

Positive self-talk can help you train your brain to have a positive outlook on life. 

Image by Antonio Corigliano from Pixabay

White Coat Hypertension – Experiencing Anxiety At The Doctor’s Office 

Experiencing stress and anxiety at the doctor’s office is also quite common. 

This phenomenon is referred to as “White Coat Hypertension.” 

A person with white coat hypertension essentially suffers from high blood pressure levels once they are at the doctor’s office or in the presence of a doctor in general. 

White coat hypertension is caused due to the anxiety that individuals feel when they have to see a doctor.  

Experiencing anxiety at the doctor’s office has been shown to increase substantially with age. 

5 Expert Strategies & Tips To Calm Anxiety At The Doctor’s Office 

In this section, we give you 5 strategies to help gain control over your anxiety when you are at the doctor’s office. 

1) Breathing Techniques To Manage Anxiety 

Breathing techniques are one of the easiest ways to keep anxiety under control. 

Incorporating the right breathing technique into your everyday routine can make it significantly easier for you to effectively manage stress and anxious thoughts. 

Learning the right technique can prove especially useful in public settings because it does not require any resources and can be practiced anywhere without people around you knowing about it. 

One great breathing technique that can help calm your anxiety is – 

Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose while keeping your body relaxed. 

At this point, you should be able to feel your chest rise and your abdomen expand. 

Next, exhale very slowly through your mouth.  

While doing this exercise, make sure that you are concentrating entirely on doing it right.  

Repeat till you feel yourself calm down.  

2)  Carry Distractions 

When you are at the doctor’s office, the waiting period can make you really anxious and get your mind racing. 

To curb this, we suggest planning ahead of time and carrying some distractions with you that can help keep your mind occupied. 

The best thing to bring along with you would be a book or a magazine that you could read. 

In the era of smartphones, you literally have a plethora of apps and games at your fingertips. 

Carrying headphones and listening to an audiobook or a podcast with a positive message can help you feel more relaxed and have a positive outlook. 

Your only focus here should be to do something that you enjoy and will keep you occupied so you are less likely to experience anxiety attacks. 

3) Tell Your Doctor About Your Anxiety When You See Them 

Being honest with your doctor and letting them know about your anxiety before you start discussing the problem can be highly beneficial for both of you. 

Always be as transparent as possible with your doctor. This will help you establish a better relationship with your doctor. 

A good doctor will never judge you for your mental health or your panic attacks. 

Most doctors want to see their patients thrive and will go to great lengths to make you comfortable. 

4) Get A Family Member, Partner Or A Friend To Accompany You. 

Finding a family member or a friend who could come along with you on your doctor’s visit could be a great idea.  

Having someone to support you will definitely ease your anxiety and keep you calm throughout the visit. 

The presence of a familiar face can be very comforting to most of us and the conversation you have with them can also serve as a distraction, thus taking your focus away from anxious thoughts. 

Having someone to rely on will also keep you accountable.  

You can instruct them to take down notes and remember minor details that you may miss out on due to stress and anxiety. 

5) Consciously Remind Yourself That You Are Here For Your Good. 

In your anxious state, it is easy to forget why you are here.  

Always remember that the doctor is on your side and has your best interest in mind. 

If you are visiting the doctor due to an illness that you are experiencing, remind yourself that you will only feel better after receiving the diagnosis and the right treatment for your problem. 

If you are visiting the doctor for a routine check-up and are anxious that you will find something terrifying in your reports, remind yourself that it is best to catch a potential disease in the early stages. 

Your doctor’s job is to make sure your health is as good as it can be, do your best to cooperate in every way possible. 

Featured Image Source : Image by Alterio Felines from Pixabay

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Please note that these techniques are not intended to replace the professional care of mental health practitioners. Please see your doctor if you believe you might be suffering with anxiety.

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