A visit to the doctor does not fill most people with glee. For many people, a sense of dread looms from the moment the appointment is scheduled. Such extreme fear can prevent people from seeking the medical care they require. Below we’ll examine common fears and how they can be overcome.
Fear of Reprimand
Having unhealthy habits pointed out is no fun, particularly if the doctor had previously asked the patient to address them. Most people recognize their bad habits, such as smoking, excessive drinking, failing to lose weight, but find them hard to manage. Patients may delay a doctor’s visit for fear they will be reprimanded or called out on their failure to address these habits.
Many people avoid routine checkups and other preventative care procedures because they don’t trust doctors. This distrust often stems from a negative experience, such as a previous misdiagnosis or a dismissive doctor. The experiences of others, particularly family members, can also have a profound impact on one’s faith in the medical community. Medical professionals should use tools like those from Solutionreach to improve patient relationships. Having a good doctor-patient relationship can benefit both sides greatly.
Fear of Bad News
A fear of bad news often causes people to avoid the doctor, particularly if they haven’t been in several years. This fear becomes exacerbated the longer the visit is delayed because they begin to worry about the repercussions of not seeking medical care. The bad news of others can also contribute to a patient’s anxiety.
Fear of Pain
Going to the doctor is often a trip into the unknown. Tests may be requested, some of which may be painful. Even a routine checkup holds the possibility of bloodwork and vaccinations. A visit for an illness or injury could present the possibility for other painful procedures such as surgery. The buildup to a painful procedure is usually worse than the procedure itself.
Fear of Needles
Belonephobia, or a fear of needles, is so common that it has found a place in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. While many people fear needles, about 10% of the population has an intense phobia that causes complete avoidance. The fear may be associated with pain, blood or simply seeing the needle. This fear may cause a patient to refuse vaccinations, blood work and medication.
The first step in overcoming a fear of doctors is recognition. Complete avoidance of the issue can have devastating effects on health and quality of life. Identifying the cause of the fear is essential. Once the source of the fear has been identified, steps can be taken to overcome the fear. If you don’t feel comfortable with your doctor, seek a new one. Online reviews can be helpful when finding a good medical practice. Take a friend or family member with you to the appointment. They can provide a source of comfort throughout the visit. Speak to the doctor and staff about your fear. Most doctors are willing to work with patients’ fears and provide an environment in which they can feel comfortable.