21 Aug 2018

How To Stop Avoiding Going To The Doctor

Avoiding going to the doctor? 

There may be more to it than you realise...

Sometimes, despite feeling unwell, we go out of our way to avoid seeing a doctor. We can find ourselves thinking we’re too busy, or avoid the doctor because of the expense. Sometimes it can be the case that we feel like we can’t find a good doctor, or that we don’t want to hear bad news. There are countless reasons that come to mind when avoiding seeing a doctor. And unfortunately this is putting our health and wellbeing second. 

But, sometimes for some people, the reason for avoiding the doctor’s office is more serious and deep seeded than any excuses. Being afraid to see a doctor can be a real issue for some people, and more consideration of the issue is required. The following article discusses the topic with a selection of helpful tips to help you put your health first.

Help convince yourself to see a doctor

Is the issue that you have a follow-up appointment with a specialist that you keep postponing, or that like many times before, you’ve become unwell, but avoided seeing the local GP? Any anxiety you may feel about seeing a doctor is absolutely acceptable and normal for most people. 

Routine & reward:

It may help to create a routine around seeing your doctor. If you are getting in your own way, and not even getting out to the door for that appointment, consider taking time out at a conveniently located café to relax before you head into the doctors office. Similarly consider rewarding yourself for keeping that doctor’s appointment by treating yourself to something special. It can be something as simple as an extra chocolate at Butler’s afterwards, but decide on how you’ll treat yourself before you leave the house.

Friends & family:

The support of family and friends is also very helpful. Feeling that other people care about us is not only a great positive impact on our well-being, but having such a support base has also been linked to longevity. Consider asking a friend or family member to make your appointment, or to accompany you to the doctor. 

Avoid thinking negatively or pessimistically:

One of the best things about seeing a doctor, or seeing that follow-up appointment all the way through is getting the answers you need. Avoid second-guessing, and thinking about countless ‘what ifs’, and try to stay focussed on getting the right answers from your doctor.

If you can identify with all of the above, but still can’t see your way to that follow-up appointment or to the local GPs office - it may be worth exploring a little deeper. 

What is Iatrophobia?

Iatrophobia is a medical name for fear for doctors. This anxiety disorder may apply to both children and adults. Iatrophobia can be a result of:

•    being afraid to hear bad news, getting negative results or to experience the fear of the worst case scenario,

•    anxiety about catching an illness or disease in the clinic,

•    negative experiences or traumatic memories from a doctor’s office or hospital,

•    sights and smells in the doctor’s office or in hospital,

•    fear of blood and pain,

•    negative experiences of impersonal treatment in doctor’s office or hospital,

•    being afraid of misdiagnosis. 

Before you start to think that a phobia is the reason why you haven’t had regular check-ups, it affects a very small percentage (approximately  3%) of the population. Only a mental health professional can determine if this is really a phobia or not. However, below you can find a few symptoms which are usually experienced by people with phobia:

•    sweating, shivering, shaking, having a muscular tension in the doctor’s office or being unable to talk with a doctor coherently,

•    rapid shallow breathing,

•    having nausea or feeling like vomiting,

•    having raised levels of blood pressure or hypertension in the doctor’s office,

•    preferring to suffer rather than seek for medical help,

•    endless postponing routine check-ups, doctor’s/dental appointments, vaccinations or blood tests.

Where to seek help

At the end of the day, the doctor is there to help, not judge, and seeing a doctor early is in your health’s best interest. Online doctor appointments offer a great deal of convenience and may be ideal for you. MyClinic.ie offers online therapy, and typical medical consultations, which can be accessed from the comfort of your own home.