Is it that time of year again? Time for your regular doctor’s visit and check-up, dentist tooth cleaning, or even blood test? For many of us, doctor’s appointments are extremely scary.
We know that a doctor’s appointment is a good thing that can help keep us healthy and prevent future sicknesses. Yet actually following through and scheduling an appointment is scary and unfun.
Having a fear of doctors might mean that you have iatrophobia, however, this condition only affects 3 percent of the population. It’s more likely that fear of receiving bad news is the culprit behind avoiding doctor appointments.
Today, we’re exploring the why’s behind being scared of doctor appointments and some ways in which we can help mitigate these fears to keep our health on track.
Fear of Getting Bad News
Dr. Barbara Cox, a psychologist based in San Diego, claims that the primary cause of a fear of doctors is actually anxiety triggered by a fear of getting bad news. Having an unprofessional or rude doctor is a valid concern for many. But it is not necessarily the primary feat you may have when scheduling an appointment.
It is natural to be scared of getting hurt, both mentally and physically. This fear easily extends to appointments at which you may learn about something concerning your health. However, it’s important to remind yourself that making a doctor’s appointment is also the first step to improving many conditions.
Conditioned Negative Responses to Doctor Appointments
A conditioned response is defined as a response that is developed over time to something that is normally a neutral experience. For example, a pet clicker is originally a neutral sound or occurrence that doesn’t mean anything to your pet.
But if your pet receives a treat after each click, they will start to associate the clicker with a treat, and have been conditioned to expect a treat in this way.
When it comes to doctor appointments, many of us only go to the doctor when we are sick or when sudden pain flares up. These are negative occurrences that may be accompanied by expensive or lengthy medication or treatment.
Unfortunately, this can lead to a conditioned negative response to doctor appointments and doctors overall. Remember that regular appointments are the best form of prevention when it comes to future injuries and illnesses!
Overcoming Fear of Doctor Appointments
So what can we do to help overcome the unnerving fear of doctor appointments? One of the best ways to overcome this fear is to write and repeat affirmations about why the appointment will be good for you in the long run.
Sure, the appointment itself won’t be fun. But having a conversation with your doctor about general health and advice can make you feel more secure about your lifestyle and future choices.
Another way to combat this fear is to dedicate a full day (or half a day) to the appointment. Find an albeit rare weekend appointment slot. Or, take a day off from work for the appointment. This can help reduce stress caused by an extremely packed work schedule or other responsibilities paired with the new doctor’s appointment.
No matter how you choose to reduce your fear of a doctor’s appointment, remember that you aren’t alone. Rely on a friend to accompany you to the appointment or talk through your feelings, and remember that you’ve got this!