Staying Calm During The Doctors Visit
The Anxious Patient: How To Calm A Patient Down To Improve Care
Shaking, sweating, blood pressure through the roof: It’s no surprise the anxious patient may avoid going to the doctor. When they do go, they may forget the questions they wanted to ask as well as the details of the appointment, leaving them more confused, humiliated and frustrated than before. Even a routine physical can induce panic, since there’s potential to hear bad news. Anxious “what ifs” flood in, and any Google search of symptoms will quickly confirm the likelihood of disastrous health outcomes.
As a physician, this may mean extra appointments, phone calls and time spent reviewing information and addressing concerns. But knowing how to calm a patient down who’s experiencing this anxiety can make the appointment more productive and pleasant for everyone involved. Fortunately, you have a wealth of helpful strategies available to you.
A Trip To The Doctor’s Office
Let’s be real – going to your doctor’s appointment isn’t always on the list of fun things to do. We go to see our doctor when we are sick, injured, need medication, or have a chronic illness that we’re managing. Many of us procrastinate scheduling those appointments, because we have busy lives and it’s just one more thing to do. Or maybe we procrastinate because we are afraid of getting a scary diagnosis. Even a bad experience in the past can cause doctor’s office dread.
While many of us dread going to see the doctor, for some people, it can cause extreme anxiety and even panic attacks. The fear of doctors, known as iatrophobia, is often strong enough to provoke white coat syndrome, in which normally healthy blood pressure soars in the presence of a medical professional.
It’s important not to let your dread prevent you from getting the care you need. Staying healthy and receiving medical care when you’re sick should be a number one priority for all of us. There are ways you can help relieve some of the anxiety, stress, and hesitation when it comes to medical appointments.
Using Alternative Therapies For Your Fear
Address Concerns Head On
If you notice someone is anxious, it’s OK to ask about it. Anxious people often worry about catastrophic outcomes. If you’re aware of what they fear, you can address it. Don’t attempt to reassure them by falsely denying that adverse outcomes exist, but instead emphasize the rare nature of certain events and reassure them that you’ll work together to manage their health.
Recommended Reading: How To Deal With Anxiety Attacks Naturally
Fear Of Doctors: How To Cope
Here are some tips experts suggest to cope with fear of doctors or medical procedures:
1. Identify what worries you. Or as Consedine puts it, deconstruct your anxiety. “Anxiety tends to be diffuse people are not sure what they’re really anxious about. But if you identify what it is, that makes it much easier to manage because you can evaluate your coping potential.”
2. Confront anxieties and deal with them rationally. This could be a useful way to overcome fear of screening tests, Consedine says. For example, the digital rectal exam can be important for detecting prostate cancer, and the colorectal exam is important for early detection of colorectal cancers. Studies show that many men avoid these tests because of a perceived threat to their sexuality, Consedine says.
Other screenings such as the mammogram may be uncomfortable, but they are brief and can be life-saving. Surveys show that people anticipate screenings to be more painful than they actually are, Consedine says. And rationally, those brief moments of discomfort are far outweighed by the chance of having your life saved by early detection of a disease.
3. Ask for sedatives or anesthetics. These can be helpful for people with needle phobia.
5. Seek a new doctor. If you’re afraid of your doctor, you might want to seek out a new one who evokes a more calming reaction, Lack advises.
Really Its Ok To Resume Your Checkups
Doctors did a really good job telling us to stay away from doctors offices and clinics, but Savoy said, the medical community did a lousy job letting people know it was safe to come back. We have entirely different protocols now, Savoy said. We space people out in our offices. And at this point most of the medical staff has been vaccinated, she said. Another fact: Doctors offices are regularly disinfected and patient visits are spaced out so the waiting rooms arent overly filled with fidgeting people.
When you make that doctors appointment, you are taking back your power.
Margot Savoy, Temple University’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine
But just because the likelihood of contracting COVID-19 from your general practitioners office is low doesnt mean youre mentally ready to go back. I know I wasnt. Not only was I worried about coronavirus exposure in the waiting room, but what would the doctor think about the extra pounds I gained?
Let it go, said Maya Bass, a family physician at Drexel University College of Medicine and Tower Medicine. Your doctor is not here to judge you. Youve come in and youve gained weight since your last checkup? Welcome to the party, Bass said. Im not here to pass judgment on your life. My job is to help you get healthier. Im here to help you move forward.
The bottom line is fear of the unknown is actually worse than what you do know, Savoy said.
When you make that doctors appointment, you are taking back your power, Savoy said.
Recommended Reading: How To Help A Person With An Anxiety Attack
Is White Coat Hypertension A Concern
You might be thinking, So what if my blood pressure is a little high for a few minutes while Im at the doctors office? Its fine the rest of the time so it cant be that big of a deal
While White Coat Hypertension is largely nothing to worry about, it can be an early-indicator of potential future problems. In other words, if a doctors office visit can stress you out to the point of physical symptoms, its not a far leap to assume that you experience those same symptoms with other day-to-day stressors like work or family .
Manage Your Own Anxiety
If your child isnt feeling well, he may not be the only one feeling anxious. When kids are sick, its natural to be nervous, but its important to manage your anxiety in an appropriate way.
Parents anxiety can easily rub off on kids, says Dr. Wiedermann. Of course, this doesnt mean you shouldnt express your concerns to the doctor, just that its important to find the right time and place to do so.
If youre feeling anxious, or have questions that might not be appropriate to ask in front of your child, ask to speak to the doctor while your child is getting checked-in, says Dr. Wiedermann It will help your child stay calm and give you a chance to give the doctor a heads up about your concerns before the appointment begins.
Read Also: Can You Be Hospitalized For Severe Anxiety
How Can I Use Cbd Oil For Anxiety
Early research is promising regarding the ability of CBD oil to help relieve anxiety. Although more research is needed, specifically on humans and generalized anxiety disorder to confirm if CBD can reduce the symptoms of anxiety, you may be interested in talking to your doctor to figure out a starting dosage that is right for you. While CBD is generally considered safe, some people who take CBD may experience some side effects such as diarrhea, fatigue, and changes in appetite. CBD may also interfere with certain medications or dietary supplements. One case study on a child under 18 offered evidence that CBD is effective as a safe alternative treatment to traditional psychiatric medications for reducing anxiety and insomnia.
Why Do Some People Fear Doctors
In an effort to understand more about this pervasive issue, I took to social media to ask others about their experiences.
Like me, many pointed to negative incidents in the past as the reason for their anxiety around doctors, from not being heard to receiving the wrong treatment.
I worry that doctors will brush off my concerns, reports Jessica Brown, who experienced narcolepsy for six years before a doctor took her symptoms seriously.
Says Cherise Benton, Two separate doctors in two separate facilities read aloud off my chart that Im allergic to sulfa and went ahead and prescribed it to me. Benton landed in the ER after dangerous allergic reactions to her prescriptions.
Sadly, some folks also face fears based on statistics about the level of care people in their demographic receive.
As a black woman in America, I often worry that I wont have my medical concerns listened to fully, or that I may be given a substandard level of care because of implicit bias, says Adélé Abiola.
Another common thread among respondents was a feeling of powerlessness.
Those in the white coats hold our medical fate in their hands while we, the non-professionals, await their expertise.
They know this secret about you that could change your life, says Jennifer Graves, referring to the acute unease of waiting on test results.
And when it comes to our health, the stakes are often extremely high.
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Write Out The Treatment Plan
This way, they can refer back to it later. An anxious patient may also benefit from bringing a close friend or family member to the appointment to help take notes.
Using these strategies to establish rapport with an anxious patient can diminish some of their dread about coming to the doctor. They may never love coming in for an appointment, but if the overall stress can be reduced, the quality of care and outcomes of the appointment will improve.
Everyone Has Anxiety About Going To The Doctor
June 30, 2020 by Stacey Shapiro
Medical phobia or just anxiety? How do I know?
Weve all been there. A symptom arises and we have to go to the doctor to find out what is wrong. The anxiety kicks in. Some people will make the appointment right away and others will keep rescheduling it until they cant avoid it any longer. Anxiety is characterized by worrying or apprehension. Everyone has anxiety about going to the doctor. We worry about what the doctor is going to say. What are they going to find? If they find something, what are they going to do about it? No one really wants to go through all the testing, or worse, medical procedures doctors may put us through to diagnose the symptoms. I wanted to address this now because of covid-19. Ignoring symptoms doesnt seem like a good plan.
If one of my clients is avoiding treatment, I remind the client that often when the medical doctors find diseases early the prognosis is better. So, it is better to go to the doctor and find out than not find out until its too late. It is easier to treat anxiety the earlier the treatment is given also.
If someone is still apprehensive you can try these strategies.
You can travel to the doctors office several times without an appointment to desensitize to the idea of going to the doctor.
You want your family members to interact more peacefully?
Your children are acting out constantly?
You are an overstressed parent?
Also Check: What Are The Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorder