Fear of doctors is a real phobia. There’s even a medical term for it. The clinical word is iatrophobia. For some, the idea of seeing a doctor makes them anxious and nervous. They can still go through with their appointment, but they need a serious pep talk from a loved one. They may even need to be accompanied to the doctor. But for others, the fear can send them to outright panic. There are people who doctors need to inject with tranquilizers to survive being in an emergency room or a doctor’s clinic.
Is there a logic to this fear? If you don’t want to see a GI doctor even though you need to, is there something wrong with you? What are the reasons why some people can’t even get themselves to their doctor’s appointment?
When it comes to phobias, there is no real logic to why people fear some things such as spiders, insects, enclosed spaces, and even doctors. You could pinpoint a reason or two why people are fearful of doctors, but there is no medical explanation to it. Some fear going to the doctor because they are wary about certain medical procedures, the pain of these procedures, or the idea of getting an injection (some people fear needles). If they had a bad experience with another doctor before, that could also be a reason for their phobia.
Signs That You Have Iatrophobia
- You can’t accept that you fear doctors, so what you do is cancel your appointments and reschedule them because you have “work” to do. You know you can set aside that work and see your doctor. You’re just not willing to do it.
- You self-medicate instead of seeing a doctor when you’re sick.
- Before seeing a doctor, you cannot sleep or eat or function well. You keep thinking about what the doctor may tell you tomorrow. You read about your symptoms on the internet and came to the worst possible conclusion.
- If you have a fear of dentists, hospitals, and illnesses, this is also associated with fear of doctors.
Overcoming Fear of Doctors
Are you often afraid to go to a particular doctor only? It might be because the doctor isn’t good at making you feel comfortable to talk about your symptoms. Some doctors are especially careful and friendly with their patients. You may want to check out other doctors with the same specialties to see if you will feel the same way. It might not be about you, but about how you feel when you see this particular doctor.
It will help if you can talk with someone about your fears. A friend who’s suffering from the same thing may help you understand your own fears. You should not be afraid to ask for help. If you think you’ll feel safer and more comfortable being with someone in the doctor’s room, then ask your doctor if you can bring a friend or relative. Most doctors won’t mind discussing your medical condition in front of someone else as long as you’re okay with it.
Who do you trust among your loved ones? Who do you look for when you feel worried or anxious? This is the same person you may want to accompany you to the doctor’s office. You need someone you can draw strength from, and not someone who’ll magnify your fears.
Ask as many questions as you can. One of the things that people fear about a doctor’s appointment is not knowing half of what the doctor said. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A doctor is paid to answer your concerns about your health. Know that the doctor expects to hear questions from parents and to answer them as best as they can.
See a Therapist
You can seek professional help for your phobia. A therapist will seek the source of this fear and try to make you understand how best to handle it. Are you afraid to see a therapist, too? Ask a friend to come with you. The first real step to overcoming your fear of doctors and any medical procedure is to know the reason why you have these fears in the first place.
Iatrophobia can delay the treatment of serious medical conditions. If you believe you are suffering from this phobia, work to manage and overcome it. This could seriously deter you from seeking medical help when you need it in the future. It’s best to make it a thing of the past now than suffer the consequences of not seeing a doctor.