Young doctor and patient talking in the doctor's office.

Managing Doctor and Dentist Appointment Anxiety

If you feel anxiety surrounding doctor and dentist appointments, you’re not alone. Dental anxiety impacts around 36% of adults, and many also share a fear of the doctor. This anxiety can be caused by previous traumatic experiences, fear of pain, fear of an unwanted diagnosis, fear of needles, or even nothing at all. So, how can you overcome the fear and make it to annual checkups?

Know the symptoms

When nervousness hits ahead of a visit to the doctor or dentist, you may experience some of the following symptoms

  • Canceling necessary appointments due to anxiety 
  • Trouble sleeping or eating
  • Crying or becoming ill at the thought of the visit 
  • Becoming tight-chested and breathless 
  • Sweating more than normal
  • Racing heartbeat 

Being aware of the symptoms can help you identify the fear and begin processing your emotions and planning a way to overcome them and make it to your appointments.

Talk to your dentist or doctor

Sharing with your dentist or doctor what exactly makes you anxious about the visit will help them make accommodations for you. For example, if your fear is of pain, your practitioner may suggest using a numbing agent or pain reliever during the visit.

By continuing to visit the doctor and dentist, you’re more likely to remain healthy, helping you to avoid painful, complicated, and costly procedures in the future.

Bring distractions

According to Harvard Health, one way to help alleviate nerves at appointments is through distractions. At the dentist, bring headphones. Listening to music or a podcast can take your mind off of the experience. Bringing a friend or relative with you to the doctor can keep you occupied and provide support.

Practice mindful breathing

Practicing mindful breathing techniques can help alleviate symptoms and get you more relaxed. Focus on your breathing and take slow, deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Do this several times.

If anxiety takes over before appointments or is impacting your day-to-day life, turn to the experts at Valley Oaks Health. Through one-on-one counseling or a support group, you can find the help you need to overcome anxiety.

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