OSHCstudents – Fear of doctors and hospitals is not uncommon, but avoiding routine appointments such as vaccinations, necessary medical check-ups, and procedures due to this fear can have a huge impact on our health.
Try to identify why you’re afraid
There are many different possible reasons a person might be fearful of medical appointments. This could be a recent experience or a childhood experience that is triggering. Fear can also come about if someone you’re close to experiences any of the above and you were their support, friend, or a witness to it, she adds.
However, even without these experiences, many people do associate doctors, hospitals, or anything related to the health system with fear.
Communicate your fear with the doctor or nurse
Giving your medical practitioner a clear understanding of how you’re feeling is also important, as this helps give them a better understanding of how to support you on your medical journey. A good practitioner will want to know how you’re feeling and help you with your fears.
Establishing a relationship of trust with your doctor can go a long way to calming your fears.
Go with someone you trust
When the time comes to go to a doctor’s appointment or if you need to make a trip to the hospital, take a friend or support person with you to help keep you calm. A trusted friend or family member can act as a supportive presence and also help take in information that may not sink in when you’re feeling stressed or anxious.
Distract yourself while you’re waiting
Instead of sitting around pondering what’s coming, take a book or listen to a podcast while you wait to see the doctor. Also, make sure you stay physically active if possible, and learn some deep breathing exercises before you go into the doctor/hospital to help turn down your fight-or-flight response. Deep breathing has been shown to increase feelings of calmness and well-being and reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of stress hormones in the blood.
Book appointments for lower-stress times
Consider the timing of your appointment, both in terms of your own emotional well-being and also busier and quieter times in the waiting area. For example, if you tend to be calmer in the morning, try to book early appointments. If you’re more anxious early, opt for afternoon bookings.
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OSHCstudents (source: nib.com)