Sarah Stultz: Does anyone else have anxiety with doctors?

Published 10:36 pm Monday, January 13, 2020

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz


Somewhere along the lines of my adult life, I started distancing myself from doctors. It doesn’t bother me if I am taking my son or another family member to a doctor, but if it comes to me being the patient, I have avoided them like the plague.

I’m not sure if it’s just a little anxiety, if it has developed over the years because of the life experiences with my children or some other reason.

My son, Landon, has seen scores of doctors since he was born almost eight years ago because of his epilepsy diagnosis, and my daughter, Sophie, was treated in an emergency room and ultimately died there surrounded by medical professionals after her crash in 2016.

Doing a little research on the topic after a chipped tooth forced me to go into the dentist on Monday — where of course I hadn’t been staying up on my appointments — I found out it is somewhat common today for people to have Iatrophobia, or fear of doctors. A fear of dentists is called dentophobia.

Iatrophobia can cause people to fear a person who performs surgery, administers shots, gives medical diagnostics or any others in the medical field. According to The Center for Treatment of Anxiety and Mood Disorders, it can be caused by several reasons, including the following:

• Fear of hearing bad news or getting negative results from a test or exam

• A traumatic event that occurred at a doctor’s office as a child

• Sights and smells in a hospital or doctor’s office

• Fear of blood or claustrophobia

• Impersonal doctors or staff who make people feel like they are just a number

• Fear of pain from undergoing a test or examination

Aside from the traumatic experiences we have experienced as a family in medical settings, I’m not afraid of the pain or of any sights or smells at a doctor’s office or even of the sight of blood.

I think for me it’s more of a loss of control for my perfectionist nature. If I don’t go into the doctor, I’ll never find out what could be wrong, and so therefore in my mind nothing is wrong.

Thats a dangerous thought I will have to explore more later.

Whatever the case may be that I’m experiencing this anxiety, I was proud of myself to make it into the dentist Monday, though I’m sure if I had been going more regularly in the first place, I likely could have avoided the issue I’m dealing with now.

Everyone who was there treated me with nothing but kindness.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.