According to the National Institute of Health, as many as 19.2 million adults in the USA alone suffer from “white coat syndrome,” or latrophobia. No one really likes to go to doctor’s appointments, but people dealing with latrophobia have an exceptional fear or anxiety about visiting the doctor. If you are one of the 19.2 million, know that you are not alone. Here are six ways to cope with doctor’s office anxiety.
1. Identify Your Fear
Before you arrive at the doctor’s, ask yourself what exactly you are afraid of. What about the doctor or the environment makes you anxious? Is it residual memory from a traumatizing childhood experience? Are you worried about what the doctor may diagnose you with? Is it because you don’t know what to expect?
Once you have pinpointed the source of your fear, you will be able to work on overcoming it. If you cannot identify why you are afraid, you won’t have any material to work with. Often, identifying exactly where your anxiety is coming from is enough to help you realize that your fears are irrational and can be overcome.
2. Weigh the Pros and Cons
Once you’ve determined what you’re afraid of, you can start weighing the information. Determine your priorities. What are the pros and cons of going to the doctor’s?
For example, some pros might be that you get a preventative check-up that could end up saving you future health problems (i.e. mammograms, digital rectal exams, teeth cleaning and examinations) or get a treatment or prescription that will alleviate pain. You might also receive information about your body that will help you to eat, sleep, and function better.
The biggest con for those dealing with anxiety is pushing through whatever you are specifically anxious about. Just remember that doctors prevent, diagnose, and heal, and if you are in discomfort or pain, pushing through your fear will be worth the anxiety.
3. Ask for Information
The fear of the unknown is often the most powerful fear we can experience. If you are feeling anxiety about seeing a health care professional, find out everything you can about the office, the appointment, and the doctor himself.
Hop online and research the treatment or procedure. Talk to friends or family who have gone through the same treatment or call up your doctor or dentist and ask him for specifics. If the procedure is minimal or noninvasive, you can just ask your doctor or nurse about it right before they begin. Ask them to describe how much it will hurt—having a needle prick compared to a bee sting, for example, can ease your mind and let you know exactly what to expect.
4. Ask for Sedation
If you’re worried about a procedure, ask if sedation is a viable option. Many dentists’ offices provide sedation for procedures such as root canals or wisdom teeth extractions. Knowing that you won’t feel or remember anything about the procedure can do wonders to relieve your anxiety.
If you choose sedation, get a friend or family member to drive you home. Sedation can often make you feel sleepy or confused, and while this is better than being anxious and afraid, it makes driving home on your own unsafe.
5. Bring a Friend
There’s nothing wrong with bringing a friend or family member with you to your appointment. Being able to chat with someone you care about will lower your anxiety levels. Having someone to support you as you undergo simple procedures or check-ups might also make it easier to come back on your own for future appointments. Making positive memories of an office can help your anxiety start to fade naturally.
6. Seek a New Physician
Your anxiety with a certain office might be due to the way you feel about your physician, not about the actual appointment. If you don’t get along with your doctor or you feel uncomfortable around him, consider looking for a new primary care provider. It can be difficult to feel relaxed and comfortable if you don’t get along with your doctor’s personality or don’t agree with his policies.
There’s nothing wrong with switching to a new doctor or dentist, especially if it makes you feel more at ease with your surroundings.
Latrophobia is far more common than you think, so don’t let it embarrass you. Use these tips and find other ways to cope with your anxiety so that you can receive important medical attention in a timely manner.
Author Bio: Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She writes about health, family, home and business.A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family when she isn’t writing. Informational credit to Dentrix Dental Care.