Your Fear of the Doctor Could Kill You
The older we get, the more important it is to visit the doctor for annual check-ups. During these yearly physicals, doctors not only check patients for obvious signs of ill-health, but they request various blood tests that can alert both patient and doctor to beginning stages of such diseases as diabetes, high cholesterol and even cardiovascular disease. It’s not a stretch to say that, if you are afraid of doctors, your fear may be killing you. By avoiding the doctor, you are risking not only your health but, ultimately, your life. Here are five ways to manage your fear and get through your appointment:
1.Schedule a Visit
It may help to lessen your anxiety if you can meet your doctor face-to-face with no examination required. Schedule an appointment with your doctor simply to discuss your fears and have your upcoming physical explained in detail. Most doctors will be happy to schedule this meeting if you let them know that you’re fearful or anxious. Once you get to know your doctor, he or she may seem less intimidating during your “real” appointment. You can also ask your doctor how he or she suggests that you cope with your appointment; believe it or not, you won’t be the first person that they’ve run across with a fear of doctors.
Take part in a relaxing activity just before your appointment. You may want to go for a massage, sit for a pedicure or even go for a walk on the beach. Different things relax different people; find what relaxes you and do it before you see the doctor. By taking part in some type of activity ahead of time, you will be less likely to spend hours worrying about your appointment, heightening your level of anxiety.
3.Take a Friend
If you’re appointment won’t be too personal, take a friend or family member along. Having someone with you for moral support can go a long way toward lessening your stress. Even if your friend isn’t permitted in the exam room with you, just having them in the waiting room can keep your mind off of your pending appointment. Be sure that you take someone along who will be supportive; avoid asking anyone who will tease you to tag along. Remember that the goal is to lessen your anxiety, not to make it worse.
There’s nothing that will heighten your stress level like a long wait in the reception area. Feel free to call ahead and make sure that your doctor is running on time. Explain to the receptionist that you’re feeling anxious and don’t want to have to sit in the waiting room for an extended period of time. The receptionist should be happy to tell you if the doctor is running behind and can give you a better idea of when to show up for your appointment.
When we get nervous, our body naturally responds by quickening our breathing pattern. Make a conscious effort to slow your breathing to a more exaggerated pace. Close your mouth and breathe in through your nose, filling your lungs deeply. Hold your breath for about three seconds and then exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat this exercise three times and then return to normal breathing. Perform this exercise in your car, in the waiting room and then again in the exam room. This breathing pattern is naturally calming and can help relax your mind.
If your fear of the doctor is causing you to avoid medical care, you could be harming yourself more than you think. Even if you feel “fine,” avoiding the doctor completely can cause you to miss out on early diagnoses that could ultimately save your life. If you can’t get yourself over your fear, you may want to seek the help of a trained therapist or psychologist who specializes in phobias. Getting over your fear will be the first step in ensuring your health and longevity.
Kelly Rhodes writes for health sites. If you’re concerned about your health, check out more information on locations for discount blood work in Florida.
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