It might happen each time you go in for a routine medical visit. Your anxiety begins during the drive over to the doctor's office. It intensifies as you sit in the waiting room. You find you can concentrate on neither the television nor the magazine in front of you. When you're ushered into an examination room, you've just about reached the panic stage. And you haven't even seen the doctor yet.
Or your anxiety could be based on legitimate fears. For instance, if you've been diagnosed with cancer or a heart condition, each medical visit carries a great deal of uncertainty. Your doctor could, in fact, deliver the tragic news that your condition is inoperable. It is no wonder that you find your heart racing when you step into the doctor's office.
Perhaps you have a fear of the dentist's chair. It first hit you when you were a child and had to have your first filling. The fears have only intensified since. Now, even a routine cleaning is an occasion for a great deal of stress. You even feel as if you're under heavy stress when you dial the phone to make your appointment.
Dealing with doctors and dentists can be stressful for any one of us. A lot of us fear what we don't understand, and much of medical language can sound like gibberish. The equipment itself can be frightening if we're not accustomed to it. And there's always a fear that a treatment will seem worse than the disease.
There are a number of techniques that you can use to deal with the stress associated with medical care. To begin with, your best defense is a good offense. Ask as many questions as you need to of your doctor or dentist. Will the procedure be painful? How long will it last? Will the procedure have side-effects? Will your insurance cover the cost? The more informed you are, the better able you will be to handle the stress.
Another thing you might consider is doing your own research, trying to sort out some information for yourself. Don't think that you have to pore over medical books. Reading health-related articles in magazines can help improve your knowledge and understanding, making you a better-informed patient. You might also search out health-related websites so that you can bone up on a particular area of medical practice.
Also, while you're waiting for your physician or dentist, consider engaging in some relaxation exercises. Imagine yourself running through a field of flowers with a toddler, or skating expertly at the rink at Rockefeller Center. Picture yourself in a low-stress situation, in a location you love. Through this technique, you'll calm down your mind and your body so that you can deal effectively with the stress that comes your way.
If you have friends who work in the health care industry, you might discuss your fears with them. They can be an important source of information, giving you insights into the medical profession that you might not otherwise have. Draw upon their experience in order to soothe your fears. You might be surprised at how much you can learn simply through casual conversations. Most health care workers will be more than willing to share their experiences with you.
If your fear of the dentist or doctor has turned into a full-fledged phobia, you'll want to consult a professional therapist. He or she can delve into the root causes of your fears and can help you to develop effective coping strategies. In some cases, the psychologist might recommend that you see a psychiatrist so that you can obtain the medication you need to calm your nerves. Millions of people have been helped through such medication. While such medication can result in weight gain or drowsiness, its overall effect can be quite positive.
It is entirely possible to visit a doctor or dentist without becoming overly stressed. The key is to be prepared. Be prepared to ask questions of your health care professional. Be prepared to encounter equipment or techniques that might make you feel uncomfortable. Be prepared for medication that might have unpleasant side-effects. The more prepared you are, the better you'll feel, and the better equipped you'll be to handle stress during your examination