Obstacles to Recovery - Avoiding the Doctor's Visit
People with anxiety or panic disorder want help. They want to feel better and live normal lives. For many people, this involves going to the doctor to receive treatment for their anxiety symptoms. However, all to common, people with anxiety avoid going to the doctor for any number of reasons:
- You know many of your fears are unreasonable and you are afraid the doctor and nurses will laugh at you. You are afraid you will have a panic attack while waiting for the doctor.
- You are claustrophobic and cannot sit and wait in the small room for the doctor.
- You are afraid of hearing bad news.
- You may feel trapped and unable to leave the office.
- You are afraid of sharing your symptoms.
- You are afraid of talking with new people.
- You are afraid to leave your house.
Even though these fears are very real, it is important to visit the doctor if you are having symptoms that are interfering with your daily life. Some people will simply try to ignore their anxiety symptoms and go to the doctor. Often, though, this can make symptoms worse and can trigger a panic attack. Some people will simply avoid going to the doctor or sit in their car trying to make it in to the office before turning around and going home. This fear can become an obstacle to receiving treatment.
There are a few suggestions for making a visit to the doctor's office a little easier:
- Think about what you may need to make your visit easier and discuss this with the receptionist when you call for an appointment. For example, would it be possible for you to wait for the doctor in the waiting room, where it is more open, instead of waiting in the small examination room? Most doctor's offices will be open to helping you find solutions.
- Bring a friend or a relative with you to the doctor's office as a support person. They can help to talk you through the anxiety and remain with you.
- Have bottled water with you, bring something to keep your mind occupied.
- Ask a staff member to check in on you from time to time while you are waiting for the doctor.
- Write down your symptoms and questions you want to discuss before you get to the doctor's office. This can help you remember what you want to say.
Your doctor should take your symptoms seriously and listen to your concerns. Most people will find the doctor is more understanding than they had thought. During your visit, the doctor should ask questions about symptoms and discuss your medical history, including family medical history.
If this is the first time you have been to the doctor, they may request some medical tests to rule out physical causes of your symptoms. They may request blood tests and echocardiograms. Additional tests will be determined by your specific symptoms. Your physician may also refer you to a mental health professional for further treatment options, such as therapy.
Although it may be easier to avoid going to the doctor, in the end working with a medical professional to find the best possible treatment for your anxiety or panic symptoms will allow you to live your life more fully and participate in daily activities.