Dealing with the medical system can be stressful even on a good day. Making appointments, getting referrals, wrangling with insurance companies over whether this prescription or that dosage is covered – it’s enough to make your head spin. If you suffer from social anxiety, these stressors become that much worse. This is a major problem, since it can lead to your anxiety actively interfering with your health.
Fortunately, there are ways to overcome this.
It might not always be easy, but like most of the challenges we face with social anxiety, it’s not insurmountable. The key is finding the right way for you to take on the unique situations you face in the medical system.
One of the hardest parts of going to see a doctor is sometimes making the appointment in the first place. If you’re sick, you might worry that you’re not sick enough and it’s just going to be a wasted trip. If you’re concerned about something, then you might think the doctor won’t take it seriously. If it’s just a checkup, you can always wait until later, right? It’s easy to find reasons not to call the doctor’s office to set up an appointment.
If you have trouble making the call, try going by and making an appointment in person. This eliminates telephone anxiety and the receptionist will likely be very friendly and comforting. If the doctor’s office has a website, you may be able to schedule an appointment online, as well. If that’s not an option, consider getting a trusted friend or loved one to help you make the appointment.
This will not only get some of the pressure off you, it will also involve someone who can validate that your reason for going to the doctor is legitimate.
Finding a New Doctor
If you’re in a new area or can’t see your regular doctor for some reason, finding a new physician can be a major source of anxiety. We can turn to technology to help here, however. There are several places online that you can check out reviews for different practices. The reviews can alert you to which doctors are worth your time and which don’t leave patients with good experiences. If you have specific questions before making an appointment, in many cases you can even reach out via email.
It also may be worth asking your current doctors or other professionals for recommendations. You may even be able to get a referral, which will help you bridge the gap between your current doctor and the new doctor you must see.
Dealing with insurance companies is never fun and many times it must be done over the phone. It’s best to prepare for this before making the call by establishing as calm and quiet environment for yourself as possible.
Be prepared to be put on hold and take full advantage of the callback feature if it’s offered so you can just sit and wait for an agent to contact you. If you get your insurance through a local agency, you might also consider visiting in person instead of calling since you should be able to take care of a lot of issues face-to-face.
Making Your Voice Heard
Perhaps the biggest problem that social anxiety introduces into the medical system is the tendency to just stay quiet and go with the flow. Your anxiety might downplay problems you’re having or keep you from asking important questions. This can lead to potentially serious problems if symptoms go ignored or you can’t convey information to your doctors effectively.
Try writing things down beforehand. This will give you a quick reference to consult during your appointments. If necessary, you can even give your list to the doctor so you don’t have to read it. Your doctor will understand – more importantly, you’ll get the vital information across to him or her. Your anxiety can only control you if you let it. With a little work you can make sure you don’t let it.