Tips for Overcoming Anxiety About Going to the Doctor

Tips for Overcoming Anxiety About Going to the Doctor

If an apple a day could really keep the doctor away, most of us would eat bags of them!

While eating healthy is important, so is getting your routine check-ups and screenings but for many, that's easier said than done.

Some people are fearful and anxious about doctors, and needles or feel claustrophobic about tight spaces like the inside of an MRI scanner. There's also anxiety about getting bad news about your health, and even the cost of treatment and tests they might need.

There's also something called white coat syndrome where your blood pressure is high at the doctor's office but not at home.

A recent survey found that nearly 33% of adults have avoided getting important and necessary medical checkups and tests because they feel they are healthy and do not need to go to the doctor. For some, the cost of care is a factor that causes them to put off booking exams. Sadly, almost 13 million in the survey know a friend or family member who died because they did not seek care and 20% of those who participated in the survey know someone whose health worsened because they did not go to the doctor or get preventative treatment and screenings.

Anxiety busters

The first step is to make the appointment. Try not to fight the worry and anxious feelings and recognize that the fear or unease you are experiencing is completely normal.

Here are some tips to help yourself remain calm during the exam or testing procedure:

  1. Practice deep breathing techniques and counting procedures to keep yourself connected to your body.
  2. Use physical feedback to help ease your physical stress. Simple techniques like body scans, tensing and relaxing muscles and utilizing stretches and pressure points can go a long way to helping you remain calm.
  3. Essential oils can help you to feel relaxed. Lavender, chamomile and valerian are popular choices. (Check with your doctor to be sure they are safe for you.)
  4. Guided imagery and meditation have proven to be very effective for patients who are anxious about tests, exams or procedures.
  5. Talk to your medical professional and tell them how you are feeling. Often, they will have suggestions for how to make the process easier. They've worked with many patients, and you most definitely are not the first anxious one they have come across!
  6. Bring a trusted friend or family member with you to your appointments. They can be a great distraction, and they provide another set of eyes and ears to listen to the doctor if you're too anxious to pay close attention.

Affording the exams and screenings

Everyone is feeling the pinch of rising prices, and budgets are stretched thin, so you're not alone when you may worry about how to pay for the exam or tests. Don't let that be the reason you avoid making the appointment, though. has compiled a list of community centers with low or no-cost services even for those who do not have health insurance. You can also do your research and speak with your doctor about medical labs that may process the tests at more affordable rates that are within your budget.

The waiting game

Once your exam, tests or screenings are complete, you may be anxious while waiting for results. Here are some tips to get you through the waiting game:

  1. Don't automatically assume the doctor thinks something is wrong. They may be ordering a test or screening in an abundance of caution, or to get a baseline health record for you.
  2. Ask questions and take notes during the exam. Be sure you understand what the test or screening is, and why it's being recommended for you.
  3. Resist Googling everything. It might be tempting to look up the information and make your own diagnosis or assumptions, leave the diagnosing to your doctor.
  4. Keep busy, active and connected to friends and family while you wait for results. No amount of worry will change the outcomes, and often the worry proves to be for nothing!

Making appointments for exams, tests and screenings is the best gift you can give to yourself. Taking charge of your health and well-being is empowering and it ensures that you will live your best life. Visiting your doctor and reviewing your health profile can be the much-needed jumpstart to get yourself back on track by getting enough sleep, eating healthy and exercising.

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