Primary Care

Afraid of seeing a doctor? Here's how to overcome your anxiety

Woman in yellow shirt meeting with her doctor


Sometimes a doctor’s visit can be scary and overwhelming, but it is important to keep in mind that their main priority is to help keep you healthy!


By William Kaplan, DO, Primary Care, Nuvance Health Medical Practice


If you feel scared to see a doctor or get a medical test, you are not alone! In fact, “white coat syndrome” is a documented reaction to being in a doctor’s office and happens when your blood pressure rises. Some people fear going to the doctor and will delay important annual checkups, screenings and immunizations. Reasons vary from fear of a painful procedure to anxiety about a bad diagnosis, to mistrust of medical professionals and self-consciousness about being examined.

How to start your journey toward a healthier life

One common explanation primary care providers hear is their patients know they have not made the healthiest choices and/or feel embarrassed about not addressing health issues sooner. That is OK.

Doctors understand achieving good health is a journey with lots of bumps and twists in the road. We feel grateful patients are willing to come to us to help guide them along the path to their destination of a healthy, happy life.

How can I get the most out of my doctor’s appointment?


The key to a productive doctor-patient relationship is openness. Family medicine providers want the patient to feel comfortable with us as we have conversations regarding their health. The way we can best help you improve your health is to help you feel open to sharing any issues you face. We discuss how you feel and the effect it has on your home, work and school. Also, we discuss how home, work and school affect your health.


Ways to feel more comfortable at your next doctor’s visit


Some people may have had bad experiences with doctors, where they feel talked down to by the physician. We embrace the philosophy that we are part of the care team, but the patient is the captain.

You are responsible for your health, and it is important they fully understand the decisions you make and are on board with the care you are receiving. It is important to understand why blood tests are ordered or why you are taking medications, which can help alleviate fear of the unknown.


Here are a few additional ways to feel more at ease at an appointment with your doctor:

  • Bring along a family member or friend who makes you laugh and is good at distracting you.

  • Distract yourselves with your favorite music or show while you wait. Learn more about your brain on music: how music can enhance your workout and brain health

  • Avoid scheduling appointments on days you are already stressed or at the end of a long day when you just want to relax.

  • Let the office know ahead of time that doctors make you anxious.

  • Have your vitals rechecked when you are feeling less anxious and stressed.

  • Stop thinking about the whatifs and a worst-case diagnosis.

The bottom line: At the end of the day, we want you to feel satisfied with the care you receive, to understand the next steps in your health journey and feel comfortable that your health goals and concerns are considered.

Find a Nuvance Health primary care provider near you