Medical appointments are often nerve-wracking. Even if it’s only a general checkup, it feels like the most stressful event in the world because your health is of paramount importance. If you find yourself getting anxious at the mere thought of showing up for a medical appointment, there are some steps you can take to calm yourself and get the most out of your doctor’s visit.
Scheduling Your Appointment
Phones are scary – more so if you have social anxiety. If picking up the phone is a hurdle you struggle to overcome, see if you can schedule your appointments in-office after your previous appointment. If not, check to see if your hospital, clinic or medical provider does online scheduling via an app or e-mail. Not all practices do, but some integrate appointment scheduling with apps like Follow My Health.
If you truly cannot face the phone to schedule an appointment, consider asking a family member or trusted friend to call on your behalf. Not all appointments can be scheduled this way, as it’s sometimes viewed as a violation of HIPPA privacy standards, but many doctors’ offices will allow another person to speak on your behalf after verbally confirming with you that it’s okay.
Arriving at the Office
Your arrival at the doctor’s office can be the cue for your anxiety to ramp up. Signing in and being forced to wait to see your doctor gives your brain plenty of time to think over everything that’s potentially wrong – such as worrying about whether you’re making the most of your time with your medical professional.
If you don’t keep a list of points you’d like to discuss with your doctor, taking the time to jot down notes as you wait can give your mind a purposeful task to concentrate on. If you already have a list in hand, consider bringing along a soothing activity like a book, a small craft project or a fidget toy.
Talking to Your Doctor
There’s no question that talking to your doctor can induce fear. If you don’t have a good rapport with your doctor, it may be time to find a new one who doesn’t make your heart rate shoot through the roof. But if it’s tolerable, it helps to remember that your doctor works for you. You pay your doctor’s salary and it’s his or her job to manage your health and listen to your concerns.
If your physician isn’t living up to that task, you have the power to fire him. Sometimes just knowing that you hold the upper hand in the doctor-patient dynamic can make the visit less stressful.
If you don’t know where to start, or worry which concerns are worth mentioning, refer to your list. Having a concrete list of talking points is common even for people without social anxiety – no one will think twice if you pull one out.
If you’re truly having a hard time enduring medical appointments because of your social anxiety, bring it up with either your doctor or your psychological health care provider. They can help you work on strategies to make visits more bearable.
Nothing is more important than your health and each doctor’s visit is an integral part of keeping you in top shape. You shouldn’t let anything prevent you from seeking the healthcare you need and deserve.