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How to Relieve Doctor Appointment Anxiety

August 27, 2019

If you get nervous or scared each time you think about going to the doctor, you may suffer from “doctor appointment anxiety.” For many us, an appointment with a physician is just something else we need to do. But there is a large population of people that experience severe anxiety about being seen by a medical professional.

Doctor appointment anxiety is very real. Roughly 3 percent of people in the United States admit to getting anxious about going to the doctor. But the big question is, why?

There are several answers to this question because everyone’s fear stems from different experiences. For women and minorities in this country there is a fear of bias or not being taken seriously when describing symptoms.

A traumatic experience is just one of the reasons your appointment can induce an overwhelming feeling of anxiety the moment you think about scheduling time with your doctor.

Another reason you may feel anxious about seeing your physician relates to a fear of what your doctor might say. You may think you’re going to receive a life-threatening diagnosis and would rather live without knowing.

Whatever the cause of your doctor appointment anxiety, here is a guide for how to get over your fear and get the answers you need to sustain a healthy lifestyle, mentally and physically.

4 Ways To Relieve Doctor

Appointment Anxiety

1. Mindful Meditation

Understanding your doctor appointment anxiety is the first step to managing it. Meditation helps people understand what thoughts are real and what thoughts are irrational. After identifying your irrational fears, you are better equipped to deal with your doctor appointment anxiety.

Mindful meditation has been used as an antidote to treat anxiety for many years. Christopher Bergland from Psychology Today says, “Anxiety is a cognitive state connected to an inability to regulate your emotional responses to perceived threats. Mindfulness meditation strengthens a person’s cognitive ability to regulate emotions.”

When we are under extreme stress, our breath is shortened and becomes shallow, fueling the anxiety cycle. Train your body to stop and take deep breaths.

Just learning to control and redirect your thoughts and fears about seeing a physician through mindfulness and trained breathing will help reduce your doctor appointment anxiety.

2. Take A Friend or Family Member

We all need a shoulder to lean on sometimes. Taking a friend or family member along with you can help in a couple different ways. Not only will they act as a support system to help you cope through your doctor appointment anxiety, but they can also assist you in speaking with the doctor and helping explain your symptoms.

A part of why we experience doctor appointment anxiety is because we forget to ask questions or get too nervous about telling the medical professional the severity of our symptoms. Having a friend or family member to act as a mediator between you and your doctor can help get you a more clear diagnosis and put your mind at ease.

3. Be Honest

You see your doctor to get an update on your health. This includes your mental health. The most simple tool you can use to combat doctor appointment anxiety is honesty.

Being honest about your doctor's appointment anxiety allows you to show vulnerability, strengthening your patient-doctor relationship. Your doctor is aware that many of her patients experience medical appointment-induced anxiety, so talking through it will allow her to better treat you.

4. Don’t Google Your Symptoms

Everyone nowadays thinks they are a doctor, thanks to WedMD. Although Google is a wonderful tool that gets a lot of people to take their symptoms seriously, it can breed hypochondria and anxiety. If you are experiencing stomach pains and search “stomach pain symptoms,” many different diagnoses appear, several of them life-threatening.

For people who experience severe doctor appointment anxiety, googling symptoms can work them up into a fit before actually ever seeing a physician to confirm anything. Explaining your symptoms to a medical professional and going through a series of associated medical tests and evaluations is what gives doctors an accurate prognosis, not WebMD.

Taking care of your physical health and mental health is important. If you find yourself downplaying your symptoms to avoid visiting your doctor’s office, follow these steps to relieve your doctor appointment anxiety and make that appointment.

Another great way to relieve stress is by exercising. And the physical activity guidelines have changed for the better. Our “Physical Activities Guide” will help you relieve stress instantly because you’ll find that you don’t need to rush to the gym every day to reach your goals.

Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans