You have been feeling pain in your abdominal area since last Monday; despite taking over the counter pain meds the pain has gotten worse. Now that you think about it, you are long overdue for your yearly check up. Instantly your mind floods with anxiety-ridden ‘what ifs’.
What if this abdominal pain is somehow related to my irregular period cycle?
What if something is wrong with my hormones?
Am I okay?
This is the point where you start to Google your symptoms in hopes of figuring out what’s wrong. Eventually, it all becomes too much for you. You find a way to distract yourself only to revisit these feelings again when the pain becomes worse. But what is stopping you from seeing your doctor?
It is important to understand the reasons you might be afraid to visit your doctor. It is also important to understand that it is a pretty common fear. But it’s not a fear of seeing your doctor that stops you from getting a check-up, it’s the fear of the unknown. In our minds, we manage to think of the worst-case scenario, by not going to the doctor you’re pushing off the possibility of facing what could be wrong. Seeing your doctor helps address the issues you are having and prevent something from becoming the worst-case scenario. Getting over your fear of visiting your doctor can be a tall order to fill. Here are some tips to help you manage your anxiety about visiting your doctor.
Never Google Your Symptoms
We live in a time where we can gain access to information with the snap of a finger. Looking for a recipe? Google it. Looking for directions? Google it. Looking to diagnose your symptoms? Go to your doctor. Most of the content that is posted online in terms of health shows the most serious and worst case scenarios. As you keep searching you can find yourself going down a metaphorical rabbit hole. It is important to see a medical professional to gain the correct diagnosis and to ease your anxiety about what your body is trying to tell you.
Create A Doctor-Patient Relationship
As a doctor at the Midwest Institute for Minimally Invasive Surgeries I can say that it’s common to sometimes feel anxious before visiting your doctor. But it’s important to remember that, us, doctors are on your side! If you feel anxious about going to see your doctor remember that this feeling will get better by visiting your doctor more often, in doing so you will create a healthy doctor-patient relationship. That is why it is important to see a doctor you trust and staying consistent with visiting them. If you find yourself wanting to find another doctor, you can search for one that is in your insurance network. To start this process of creating a doctor-patient relationship, make your first appointment on a day where you don’t have an overwhelming schedule and express your anxieties to your doctor. Believe it or not, there are many other patients that feel the same way you do.
Make a list of things you want to bring up during your doctor’s visit. By making a list, you can organize your thoughts and leave the doctor’s visit feeling better that your fear of the unknown has been made known. Getting solid answers from your doctor will feel a lot better than searching for answers on the internet. Not to mention, going in with a list will make you feel more in control during the visit.
Rest And Relaxation
Before doing anything that may cause you anxiety, it is important to rest or relax beforehand. Try doing something that can destress you before your doctor’s appointment, whether that be meditating or getting a little extra sleep that day. If you go in with a clear mind you can focus on bringing up the things you want to discuss with your physician.
Take A Friend With You
There is nothing wrong in asking for support! Ask a friend, significant other, or family member to tag along with you to your appointment. Having someone with you will provide you support to go to your visit and stop you from canceling it. It will hold you accountable and make the process less stressful.
The Waiting Game
You hear people coughing and babies crying over the sounds of dull elevator music playing in the lobby. Sitting in the waiting room can be overwhelming! Try and remind yourself the reason you are there and distract yourself for the time being. Take advantage of the magazines made available to you or distract yourself with your phone. Remain calm and understand you are not alone, many feel overwhelmed when in the waiting room.
Be Honest With Your Doctor
Begin by telling the doctor about the anxieties or fears you have. Patient care is supposed to be about making sure the patient feels comfortable, by letting your guard down and telling them how you feel you are opening the doors to create a good doctor-patient relationship. A comfortable environment means you can openly discuss what your body has been telling you. Don’t feel embarrassed to bring up personal information about your symptoms with your doctor, remember they are well versed in health-related matters! The information you share helps us doctors identify what is really going on with your health. Remember, doctors are not there to judge; they are there to help you be the healthiest version of yourself.
It is okay to be fearful of seeing your doctor, but it’s important to manage those fears by understanding the source of it. For many the source is the fear of unknown, but with the steps outlined above you may be able to find some useful solutions. If you feel the source of your fear is deeper consider visiting a therapist to gain some further insight.