If you get nervous or anxious before a trip to the doctor’s office, you’re not alone. Between the lengthy wait in the lobby, cold atmosphere, and the potential of unpleasant news or treatment, a medical visit can be stressful. However, some people have such an intense fear that they may have a phobia of doctors, known as iatrophobia. This is a common mental health condition that affections millions of Americans every year. Though it is normal for people to experience some degree of anxiety with doctors, iatrophobia is used to describe intense feelings of fear, stress, and unease that they cannot easily overcome or push out of their minds.
There are various reasons that a person may have iatrophobia. Some patients are worried about a negative experience or that their concerns will be brushed off and unheard, while others may feel powerless as though their lives are in another person’s hands. At NY Spine Care, we understand and acknowledge your concerns and anxiety. We will work with you to ease your fears so that you can feel comfortable in our office during your next appointment. While the cause of iatrophobia can vary, our approach does not. We acknowledge your anxiety and will work with you so that your mental, emotional, and overall health are taken care of.
Signs and Symptoms
Though some patients experience stress before certain procedures or treatments, patients with iatrophobia can experience unease at just the thought of a doctor’s appointment. Here are some common symptoms of iatrophobia:
- An intense feeling of unease
- Difficulty sitting still
- Low or high blood pressure
- Racing heartbeat
- Visible distress such as crying, shaking, and signs of panic
Anxiety and Your Health
For some, iatrophobia can even cause patients to avoid or delay necessary appointments and treatment. If severe enough, the fear of doctors can progress into the complete avoidance of doctors and their offices. These patients may continuously reschedule appointments to avoid dealing with their anxiety, even if they are feeling unwell or need treatment. Instead, they may try to self-treat rather than seek professional treatment, which can allow unknown conditions to worsen and eventually require more complex treatments or the need for emergency care later on.
Postponing wellness visits, check-ups, vaccinations, and routine care visits can lead to more intensive care, feeding the patient’s fear of doctors. These appointments help to monitor and maintain your overall health and wellness as well as to detect any problems early on before they worsen.
How We Can Help
One of the most important things you can do to overcome your anxiety is to open a dialogue between you and your doctor about your feelings. By letting the office, staff, and doctor know about your anxiety, steps can be taken to soothe your anxiety and unease throughout appointments.
We will adjust how we approach your health to better fit your needs so your experience can be stress-free. We can establish a signal, such as a raised hand, that will let us know non-verbally during your appointment that you may need to take a break or that you feel uncomfortable. You may benefit from bringing a supportive family member or friend into the office and waiting room to help ease your feelings of stress and anxiety. Consider bringing a stress ball to occupy your hands or practice deep breathing exercises to lower stress levels while in our office.
Managing any fear begins with accepting and understanding your feelings. Our staff acknowledges anxiety and the fear of doctors in patients. We will work with you to ease your feelings of anxiety and discomfort. For more information on how we can help you with your fear of doctors or to schedule an appointment, contact our office today at (212) 813-3632.