Is being scared of the doctor normal?

A fear of the doctor’s office is normal, but it shouldn’t stop you from getting your yearly physical.

The question

I get freaked out at the mere thought of going to the doctor for an annual checkup. Is this normal?

Yes, fear of the doctor is quite normal — and also something you can overcome. You’re afraid to see the very people who know your body best and spend years learning about diseases and treatment. Logically, it makes sense to you to see the doctor. Emotionally, though, your thinking is much different and ultimately beats out the logical part.

A visit to the doctor brings uncertainty, as you don’t know what the exam will yield. As a result, your mind fills in the blanks in negative and catastrophic ways: “What if I get a diagnosis of a dreadful disease?” or “What if he orders invasive tests?” Rather than thinking about the potential positive gains made from a routine checkup, you’re thinking of all the worst scenarios.

Overcome it

Here are some things to think about to beat the fear:
   
Do you see your doctor as Dr. Evil or an ambassador of good health? Find a doctor you’re comfortable with. Ask friends for recommendations.
   
Consider your doctor an ally in your effort for good health and not as someone who judges you. Frequently, people who get anxious about going to the doctor feel that he or she will be mad or upset if they’re not taking care of themselves. See the doctor as someone with whom you collaborate and discover ways to be healthy.  
   
Think ahead. An annual physical will provide you confidence, information and knowledge about your health; each subsequent regular visit will be easier and more beneficial.

– Jonathan Alpert is a licensed psychotherapist. E-mail him your questions at jonathan@jonathanalpert.com.

Metro does not endorse the opinions of the author, or any opinions expressed on its pages.


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