You know that you need to see the doctor. You’re either not feeling well or you suspect that something might be the matter with you and you need medical help.
But every time you think about actually going to the doctor’s office you’re filled with anxiety and dread.
I completely understand this feeling. I used to get it all the time and it prevented me from seeking help for months and months. In fact my anxiety over seeing the doctor was so bad that I couldn’t even bring myself to call his office.
I suffered from a condition called social anxiety where I experienced intense anxiety in almost every social interaction. But anxiety about going to the doctor is shared by many people, even those who might otherwise have no social issues whatsoever.
If you think your anxiety might be the result of social anxiety I encourage you to read through my website, I’ve written many articles that aim to help you live a normal social life.
But if right now you just need help specifically with calling, and visiting, the doctor this article is for you.
Why You Feel Anxious About Going To The Doctor
Why is it that you feel anxiety about the doctor? You probably don’t feel anxiety when talking to your best friend or someone in your family and if you do then it’s not anywhere near the intensity you experience about the doctor.
Let’s bring a little bit of science into this.
When you’re talking to a brother or one of your parents your brain is relaxed because it knows you’ve done this a thousand times before. Even if you say something a little stupid your brain is pretty confident that nothing bad will happen. You’re in a situation where you know that you’re accepted and that any small social mistakes will be forgiven.
But when it’s time to visit the doctor your brain suddenly sits up in a panic. This is a new (or at a least rare) experience. The doctor isn’t your goofy brother who you know loves you, he’s a stranger. The doctor is in a position of authority and has a higher social status than you.
Our brains have evolved to always “stay out of trouble” when it comes to people who have a higher social status than us. This is because we used to live in little tribes where angering an authority figure would usually result in some pretty bad consequences.
The feeling of anxiety that you get is a warning system. It’s meant to warn you to be careful and to sound an alarm when you’ve made a social mistake so that you can correct yourself and return to good standing in the eyes of your community.
Why Is Your Brain Warning You About The Doctor?
So why is that warning alarm being sounded about the doctor? Your doctor isn’t dangerous…. is he?
When you experience anxiety in a seemingly harmless social situation it is the result of anxiety misfiring. Your brain thinks that there is some sort of danger even though you may consciously realize that there isn’t.
In the case of the doctor your brain is recognizing a new authority figure in your life and it thinks that there is a danger of disappointing him or of making a bad impression. Your brain believes that this danger of making a bad impression will translate into some sort of horrible social consequences.
But here is the secret: the danger isn’t real. It doesn’t exist. Your brain has completely made it up.
Maybe in the past you’ve had a bad social experience with an authority figure. Maybe it was even a doctor but it doesn’t have to be. Maybe you normally feel socially awkward. Whatever it is your brain is taking past social missteps and it is predicting hypothetical future social missteps and making you worry about them before you’ve even made them!
It’s very silly to worry about something you’ve done if you’ve haven’t even done it yet. And that’s all your anxiety is.
That’s all very theoretical and it takes some time to shift your thinking to accept what I have written.
But you can adopt some new thinking today, right now, that will help you get past any feelings of anxiety about seeing a doctor.
First you need to realize that you doctor is a tool that you use. He’s not a human being that you’re trying to impress or make your friend. The doctor is there to bring you back to health and past that there is no social relationship between the two of you. Your mechanic doesn’t judge your car’s humour and your doctor doesn’t judge your social skills.
This may seem like a very cold and inhuman way to look at things. But the problem right now is that you’re much too far in the other direction. Your brain treats your doctor purely as a social interaction rather than as a professional who is only interested in treating your medical issue.
Force yourself to see your doctor as nothing more than a non-human medical resource and you’ll end up somewhere in the middle where you should be. You’ll treat him as a professional and be calm and respectful when doing so.
Remember that he sees hundreds of patients every month with problems that are similar or even identical to yours. There is nothing that you can show him or throw at him that will surprise him. He has seen all sorts of medical troubles and is ready to prescribe treatments.
Tricks And Tips
If you’re still having trouble with anxiety then there are some tricks and tips to use in the short term.
If your anxiety is so bad that you can’t even make the initial phone call then you can call after hours when the doctor’s office is closed and leave a message on their answering machine. The secretary will then call back and you can just let the call go to voicemail. They wil leave a message on your voicemail with your appointment time.
You can also see if your doctor has an online booking tool where you can book an appointment through his website or through email.
In regards to the actual appointment you can have a friend or close family member escort you to the doctor’s office. If you tell a family member that you’ve going to the doctor and you’ve made an appointment and you request that they come with you you are less likely to have a sudden change of heart and “chicken out” at the last minute. Even if you have anxiety on the day of the appointment you’ll still force yourself to go if you know your friend/family member has taken time off to go along with you.
A friend or family member can also provide emotional support.
I hope that this article has been helpful. Please feel free to leave your comments and suggestions in the comments section below. If you have any tips that have helped you overcome anxiety at the doctor’s office please share them so that others can benefit.