Do you feel anxious just thinking about going to the doctor? Can’t talk to a doctor because you’re too afraid? Here’s how to overcome it to get treatment.
At some time or another, most of us have had at least some anxiety over appointments with doctors. After all, for some of us, our first encounter with doctors was when we were born and they immediately slapped us on the butt.
Seriously, though, many people have a sincere fear of doctors or medical situations generally–even a simple family doctor visit. And, because of this, you can neglect important health care. You need some doctor tips!
So we’re going to help you figure out how to talk to a doctor with confidence. Maybe this will help you ease out of the fear. But first, we need to help you understand what the source of the fear is since that’s what you need to deal with.
Is it the Surroundings that Scare You?
There are a lot of reasons why hospitals and other medical facilities can be scary. Really, what is it with all those people in hospital gowns being wheeled around? Aren’t they contagious? Did someone just cough up a lung?
Fear of Hospitals
Also known as nosocomephobia, the fear of hospitals, is pretty common. If you’ve never been a patient in one before, you don’t know what to expect. But seeing all the sick people can be troubling.
If you have been a hospital patient, you might be afraid of the treatments or procedures awaiting you. Or you might be worried about not being able to leave as soon as you’re expecting to.
The much-maligned President Nixon was said to have had a fear of hospitals, apparently refusing treatment for a blood clot since he was concerned he would “not get out of the hospital alive.”
You might feel homesick in the rather alienating environment…
Plus, there are a lot of doctors running around…
Is it the Doctors Who Scare You?
It might be about their social skills–or challenges with them. This obviously isn’t your fault, but you still need to deal with it since you need to continue having appointments with doctors.
Some Doctors Have an Off-Putting Demeanor
They can be intimidating simply because they lack emotional intelligence– in their case, bedside manner. After all, their young adult years were spent mainly studying–to get into medical school, to stay there, to get a residency, and so on.
Where and how could they have learned empathy and good listening skills if they didn’t acquire them as children?
But if you have those skills, why not reposition yourself: you’re not scared of the doctor; instead, you want him or her to feel comfortable talking to you. Help ease your own “doctor anxiety” by easing your doctor’s anxiety.”
Some Doctors Are Preoccupied with Other Concerns
In his 2015 book Busy, Tony Crabbe discusses how a continual sense of obligation makes us feel busy in an addictive kind of way. We’re oddly proud of the condition and wear it like a badge of honor.
Doctors are busy people. They don’t have time for self-help books and they always feel rushed. They have to get on to the next case. It isn’t that you aren’t important, it’s that they simply feel they can’t afford the time to get to know you.
Why not crack a “doctor joke”? Here are some really corny ones. If your doctor doesn’t laugh, something is definitely wrong. But at least you’ll feel better–and probably more relaxed.
The next situation isn’t so easy to deal with.
Some Doctors Make You Feel Diminished Because of Who You Are
Women and members of minority groups have always struggled to be listened to by others–men and women both. Medical doctors are definitely not an exception. It’s hard to break pernicious patterns of socialization.
“As a black woman in America, I often worry that I won’t have my medical concerns listened to fully, or that I may be given a substandard level of care because of implicit bias,” said Adélé Abiola when interviewed by Healthline in 2018.
Bioethicist Dr. Tia Powell has some thoughts about this:
“Health care providers may have implicit biases that affect the way women are heard, understood and treated, Powell said. “Medical schools and professional guidelines are starting to address this problem, but there’s still much to be done.”
To prepare for situations like this, you need to practice your confident demeanor. You need to get in control of this unfortunate situation.
Some people are helped by wearing business attire when seeing a doctor. You can also practice some informed and intelligent-sounding questions to ask. Try practicing them on friends and family (you might get some compliments, too).
Is It the State of Your Health that Scares You?
It could well be that you are transferring your fear for your own health onto the caregiver who is meant to help you keep it under control.
Do You Dread Hearing Bad News from the Doctor?
“The main fear individuals have about going to the doctor is that the doctor will find something seriously wrong,” says psychologist Dr. Marc Romano. “Individuals typically only go to their doctor when they are sick …
Therefore, the anxiety people have when they go to the doctor becomes a conditioned response. The association between anxiety and doctors is one that becomes stronger and stronger each time a person has to go to the doctor.”
Patients with chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, or arthritis can be terrified of doctors for this reason. It seems like everything that’s diagnosed means a new drug regimen, a new therapy, or some other lifestyle disruption.
Perhaps You Have Some Anxiety About Bringing Up a Sensitive Topic with Your Doctor?
For example, what if you have an embarrassing condition like hemorrhoids? Or a very large pimple?
What if you’ve been told by someone that medical cannabis could ease a condition you’ve been dealing with? You want to broach this with a doctor. And it doesn’t hurt to read more about it, either. That way you will be well informed.
Answer: you say one of these things, or something similar, with a quirky smile, and expect the doctor to respond like a professional.
So How Do You Talk to a Doctor?
Everyone has a certain style and sense of composure when and where they feel comfortable. You need to figure out how to call on that when seeing a doctor. The key is to be yourself until you feel like yourself.
A lot of teachers are advised to “be stage actors” their first time in the classroom, acting like fictional “teachers” they’re familiar with or even some of their real-life role models. These talking tips could work for you in the doctor’s office as well.
Act like a patient who feels confident and self-possessed.
Do whatever is needed until you reach a point where you feel good about yourself and your condition. Where you feel you can talk to a doctor comfortably. Patients should not need to fear their health care providers.
Why not set up a doctor appointment, when appropriate, with a particular practitioner you want to know better and see how things go? It might lead to a first visit with a new doctor.
Make sure to check out our blog for other great reads around this topic.