Are you afraid of the doctor?
My entire life, I’ve always avoided doctors as much as possible. When I had to see one, though, the fear leading up to the appointment would hang over me for days or even weeks. When I’d finally get to the doctor’s office, both my blood pressure and my heart rate would go up. My body was telling me that it wanted to escape.
Fear of doctors is an actual condition with a name. It’s called “Iatrophobia.” (The word is derived from the Greek “Iatros”, meaning “healer”, and “Phobos”, meaning “deep dread.”) Common recommendations for dealing with this condition include practicing deep breathing before your appointment and talking about your fear with your doctor.
My fear of doctors actually gave me a great gift. It motivated me to seek help from alternative healing practitioners. I started working with chiropractors, homeopaths, Chinese medical practitioners, and energy healers. No matter what modality they practiced, all of these people had one thing in common: I wasn’t afraid of them. When I started practicing shamanic healing myself, I decided to delve into the reasons behind my fear of doctors, and I found some ways to make the experience easier.
Here are five tips that might help you, too.1 Give yourself a break.
Phobias are very real. However, rather than thinking of yourself as phobic, have compassion for yourself. You may well be afraid simply because you’re more sensitive than most people.
According to Elaine N. Aron, PhD, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, 15 to 20% of the population is highly sensitive. Highly sensitive people tend to get overwhelmed easily by sensory stimuli, to be extremely disturbed by harshness in any form, and to need time alone to refresh themselves after interacting with others. If you’re highly sensitive, you may also feel anxious in western medical environments. After all, you’re never more vulnerable than when you’re exposing your physical body to another human being—let alone someone who could potentially tell you you’re sick or in need of some sort of invasive treatment.
Be gentle with yourself. Being highly sensitive is actually a good quality. Feeling uncomfortable in harsh or scary situations is perfectly OK. Just knowing this can lessen your anxiety and help you breathe easier during a medical appointment.2 Find the right doctor.
Just because you’re afraid of doctors, it doesn’t mean they’re all terrifying. Every doctor is a unique individual. It can take some time and effort, but it’s important to keep trying until you find the right doctor. I used to notice that other people seemed to be able to go to any doctor, hardly even noticing the doctor’s personality. I used to beat myself up for not being like them and for not being able to take a doctor’s appointment casually.
Then I finally realized something. I was never going to be like those people! Because I’m very sensitive, I pick up on everything about others, including doctors. If you’re afraid of doctors, you need one who is easy-going, encouraging, and compassionate. Stay away from doctors who are stern or alarmist or who seem fearful themselves.I’ve found that there’s one sure way for me to tell if a doctor is right for me. I tell the doctor immediately that I have medical anxiety. If the doctor doesn’t validate what I’ve said, scolds me for being afraid, or responds in a cold way, I know I won’t be coming back again. (I told one doctor about my fear, and she actually rolled her eyes and sighed!) On the other hand, if the doctor acknowledges that my anxiety is real, talks with me about managing it, and treats me with compassion, then I know that I can work with this doctor on an ongoing basis.
3 Align with a Higher Power.
According to metaphysics, including Christian Science and other spiritual healing practices, there is actually nothing to heal. Each of us is already perfect. Disease is an illusion created by the mind and, as such, it can be eradicated by attuning with the Infinite Mind, or God.
Whether or not disease is an illusion, I personally believe that all healing comes from a Higher Power. That’s why I became a spiritual healer, shamanic healer, and reader of the Akashic Records. In all of those modalities, the healer is not doing the healing but is simply a clear channel for a Higher Power. There is no true healing without the involvement of the Divine.
Several years ago, I wrote a special affirmation for myself, and I’d like to share it with you. It goes like this: “My doctors are given to me by God. They always work for my highest good.”I highly recommend putting your health into God’s hands. Not only can doing so lessen your anxiety, but it can also yield miraculous results.
4 Take charge.
When I was growing up, my parents and the other adults around me tended to look at doctors as authority figures. When I grew up, I carried this idea with me, even though I wasn’t aware of it. Going to the doctor felt like going to see other scary authority figures—like having to go to the principal’s office for misbehaving in school. Archetypes like this run deep. In this case, I came to feel that a diagnosis was some kind of punishment, and a prescription was what I had to do to atone for something I’d done wrong.
When I finally realized that doctors have no authority over me, it was very liberating. Yes, they have knowledge I don’t have. They are licensed to do things for me that I can’t do for myself. And the right ones are actually healers who care about my well-being.
However, there are many ways to handle my health. No matter what diagnosis a doctor presents to me, it’s my decision what to do about it. My chiropractor has helped me with orthopedic issues. My homeopath has eradicated my allergies. A good nutritionist told me how to stabilize my blood sugar and conquer indigestion at the same time.
The best thing to do, of course, is to stay as healthy as you can so that you don’t need a diagnosis! Remember that there is a lot you can do so that you won’t have to face your medical fear very often—because you won’t need to go to the doctor very often. Find the right type of exercise. Eat the diet that helps you release toxins. Take supplements to keep you strong, especially as you age.A big part of medical anxiety is the fear that your normal life will be taken away by what doctors find or what they prescribe. But your health does not belong to any doctor or healer. It belongs to you. Take charge of it!
5 Celebrate success.
Anytime you have a doctor’s appointment or a medical test, make sure to celebrate afterward. You just did something that is very hard for you—harder than it is for most people. Pat yourself on the back. Go out to lunch. Browse in a bookstore. Get a massage. Sit on the couch and watch your favorite TV show (as long as you take charge of your health by exercising later, of course)!
Remember that medical phobias are real. If you’re afraid of the doctor, you’re not alone. You may never feel comfortable in a medical environment, but you don’t have to let anxiety control your life. Don't let fear control your peace of mind! Instead, put your health in higher hands. And, most of all, remember to let go and enjoy your life!
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are those of the author. Alternative healing modalites discussed in this article are not a substitute for medical advice.