Facing Your Healthcare Fears: 5 Steps to Take
It's common for people to delay health care out of fear or anxiety, but doing so can have a negative impact on your health.
Have you ever postponed a routine test or delayed calling the doctor about a health issue? Maybe you were nervous about what the doctor might say, and you wondered, "What if it's bad news?" It's common for people to delay health care out of fear or anxiety, but doing so can have a negative impact on your health.
Many common phobias are medical in nature, including:
- Dentophobia – the fear of going to the dentist
- Iatrophobia – the fear of doctors or medical tests
- Mysophobia – the fear of germs
- Nosocomephobia – the fear of hospitals
- Tomophobia – the fear of surgery or invasive medical procedures
- Trypanophobia – the fear of needles
These fears are understandable—the healthcare system can be intimidating—but it’s important not to let fear or anxiety hold you back from seeking care.
5 Ways to Manage Your Healthcare Fears
1. Avoid Dr. Google. If you search online for information about your symptoms, you’re likely to come across the worst possible outcome. That’s not helpful, and it may make you even more reluctant to seek care. If you can’t resist doing your own research, use trustworthy medical websites.
2. Be upfront with your doctor. When you make an appointment, let the doctor know that you’re nervous, and ask what to expect. You’ll feel more comfortable and relaxed if you’re prepared. If you have questions for the doctor, write them down and bring the list with you, in case you can’t remember them during your appointment.
3. Bring a friend or family member to your appointment. If possible, arrange for a friend or family member to accompany you to your appointment. Bring someone whose presence you find calming and who will offer moral support.
4. Talk with a mental health professional. If your anxiety is preventing you from seeking healthcare, consider making an appointment with a therapist to address the anxiety. Proactively managing your mental health will help you take better care of yourself moving forward—and help you cope with stressful situations, whether they’re healthcare related or not.
5. Reach out to a health advisor. An expert health advisor will help you build a strong medical team with a great primary care doctor who understands your fears. Whether you are getting routine tests or need help arranging treatment for a new diagnosis, your health advisor will answer all of your questions in plain English and provide support and guidance throughout the process.