Skin Story: Why It's Scary to See the Doctor
Edited By:Hadar Lev-Tov , MD, MAS
Many of us have anxiety when it’s time for our annual checkup at the doctor’s office. It is even more nerve-wracking we need to visit the doctor for a health concern. What makes us scared to go to the doctor’s office? Often it has to do with bad experiences in the past, such as a painful vaccine. For others, an anxiety disorder may play a role and make it difficult to see the doctor.
We’ve all had our fears at some point. It could be the smell of the antiseptics and medicine filling your nostrils that makes you queasy, or the unpleasant long wait in the waiting room. Although some people can visit the doctor without nervousness, there are many who experience varying degrees of anxiety towards a doctor’s visit. Some of the reasons are discussed below.
One of the biggest issues people have about a doctor’s visit is the unpleasant feeling of opening up and sharing so much personal information with someone that seems like a stranger. This can be embarrassing, as you may be afraid your doctor will be disapproving of your habits, such as smoking or weight loss.
We can all be guilty of this. Whether it’s holding back minor details of your sexual health, sharing only partial family medical history, or feeling embarrassed for the amount of sugar you actually consume, not sharing all of your information with your doctor is not helping you with your future health.
What your doctor really needs is your trust. They are not there to judge but are rather there to help you. Developing a close relationship with your health professional is essential so that they can offer new options and treatments depending on your current health status and habits. It is important to keep this in mind, especially nowadays, when the typical office visit is very short. If you are genuine and upfront about your health, you can successfully manage the uncomfortable “revealing part” and get to the “solutions part” of the visit.
Fear of the Unknown
Admit it: You get nervous about going to the doctor because you are afraid of what you might find out if you go. When you go in for a health concern, you’re tapping your foot on the floor wondering if they will be able to figure out what’s wrong with you, or if you are at risk for the many conditions you googled for your symptoms. The worst part is when you are left in the room by yourself, waiting to hear the test results. No matter what these results are, remember that although it is scary to receive a detrimental diagnosis, by visiting your doctor, you put yourself in a good position to weigh treatment options. Open communication with your doctor is essential to alleviate any concerns and to understand all aspects of your visit.
People are Different
How many times have you gone to the doctor thinking you have a very specific case, and they are just giving you a generalized treatment? The doctor may be rushed, cold, and using a one-size-fits-all approach to your symptoms. Sometimes this can feel as if the doctor doesn’t actually know what’s wrong, which only makes you more nervous. However, no doctor has the answer to every health concern. They can offer their opinion on your best treatment course and it is the patient who must be clear on what is working and what isn’t to their doctor.
Can you Overcome the Fear?
Having a fear or being anxious to go to the doctor is a barrier to your health. Overcoming the nervousness of the doctor’s office will allow you to keep up with preventative care and receive diagnoses for diseases. Whatever your opinion of the doctor, remember that their job is not to judge or ridicule, but to do the best within their power to find a solution to your problem and make you comfortable. Although this is a great fear to overcome, having support and even facing the fear itself and telling your doctor about it can help you and your future health.
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