I used to deny it, but I don't any more: I have doctor anxiety, alson known as white coat fever. It's funny if you think of it, considering I work with doctors, and many are my friends. Yet when I'm the patient I get nervous.
It's also funny considering I've had asthma my entire life, and have dealt with many doctors over the years, and I see my doctor on a regular basis. Yes, the anxiety hits.
For me though it's not so much that I fear the doctor, it's more that I hate talking about myself. I don't like admitting I can't do things. I don't like admitting if I had trouble with my asthma. I don't like it when doctor's touch me. I don't want the doctor to find something else I'll have to take meds for.
I did some research lately, and found that this whole anxiety feeling in a doctor's office is completely normal. In fact, chances are pretty good that all you folks reading this now have some degree of doctor anxiety.
Doctor anxiety is the diagnosis. It's a collection of symptoms predominantly prevalent among people of all ages, races, creeds and sexes. It occurs when one is exposed to the presence of medical professionals or the anticipation thereof.
The term White Coat Fever is actually a misnomer, stemming from 19th century studies of English patients who blamed their uncomfortable feelings when the doctor was in the house on the doctor. This was a time when all ailments were called a fever (i.e., hay fever). It's accompanied by a strong desire to avoid the presumed cause -- the doctor.
Fear is a normal and good response in the face of dangerous situations. For example, if someone has a loaded gun aimed at your head, fear is expected. If your breath suddenly goes away, as in an asthma attack, fear is expected. Yet your not supposed to fear a doctor, someone who's intention is to help you.
Yet we do. And it's normal. It's kind of like people aren't supposed to be allergic to things. People aren't supposed to have to have asthma triggers. Yet allergic asthmatics have both these things, and it's normal -- I mean, you're still normal. You're not a freak, I mean.
Some of the signs are (according to doctoranxiety.com): Muscle weakness, Heart palpitations, Tension, Fatigue, Nausea, Chest pain, Shortness of Breath (yes, it can make your asthma worse), and headaches.
It can also cause Doctor induced high blood pressure, Shaking or shivering, Sweaty palms, Saying stupid things, Biting fingernails, and Trouble sleeping the night before.
Any of these sound familiar? For me it's high blood pressure, shaking, and saying stupid things, or at least things I perceive as stupid.