It should come as no surprise that most people don’t like to go see the doctor. Physicians often refer to this natural aversion as “white coat syndrome” – an all-too-human reaction to seeing medical professionals bustling about in their white lab coats, stethoscopes draped about their necks. However, this very real affliction has an official clinical name: iatrophobia, or fear of doctors.
This condition is characterized by a number of symptoms that can vary from person to person, including sweaty palms, nervous stomach, even a slight increase in blood pressure. And while most everyone experiences some degree of nervousness when it comes to seeing their doctor, for many people the time spent waiting for their appointment is very stressful. As they become more stressed and anxiety builds, the health problem that may have triggered the need for an appointment can be exacerbated by increasing stress. Physicians and researchers agree that stress has become one of the biggest threats to the health of people worldwide. That reason alone is good enough to make managing doctor-related stress a major wellness goal.
If you find yourself getting all nerved up about interactions with the medical establishment there are a number of things you can do to help get it under control and take charge of your own healthcare management. If you’re a business professional and someone out in the workforce, prepare for your visit to the doctor just as you would for a business meeting. Set some goals for what you need to discuss, including your illness or condition, what course of actions can be taken to deal with it, and what outcome you’d like to see.
Lack of preparation before a medical visit is a primary cause of stress. One of the best ways to prepare for your visit – and reduce stress – is to research the subject of your visit. That could be an illness, a diagnosis, a treatment, or any number of other issues that require interaction with medical professionals. If you research in advance – say, do a keyword search online and read a couple of articles from reputable sources -- the knowledge you gain puts you in control, enabling you to have better conversations and better outcomes.
What determines whether we seek proper health care or avoid it? Mostly it’s fear, triggered by the absence of any sense of what to, that is more likely to lead to delay and avoidance. If a person feels that a diagnosis will doom them, or that the healthcare system is untrustworthy, or that they can't afford treatment, they are more likely to let their fears guide their decisions.
Here are some tips for coping with fear of doctors or medical procedures that can help you manage stress and take charge of your own healthcare management and use journaling to explore these points:
Identify what worries you
Confront anxieties and deal with them rationally
Reframe your way of thinking and look at your medical care providers as partners in your wellbeing
Take someone supportive with you
Everyone needs to see a physician or specialist sooner or later – some of us more than others. It’s important to see these visits as helpful, not harmful. The only thing worse than knowing is not knowing, so commit yourself to fully engage with your healthcare providers, arm yourself with knowledge, and prepare to conquer your fears with the bright light of understanding. Many of the healthcare visits are managed by moms for themselves or their children. Medical visits create stress and many find journaling as a tool to help them with the education process and prepare for visits to the doctor.
If you want to learn how important is it to manage stress when interacting with the medical establishment while being a full time mom, please download the free eBook titled Avoiding the 24/7 Motherhood Struggle Through Journaling.