How do I overcome my fear of doctors?
Overcoming a fear of doctors, also called iatrophobia, is a particularly difficult endeavor because treating a debilitating phobia often involves consulting a doctor. If possible, the best way to overcome the fear of doctors is to visit a therapist, who can help devise different strategies to combat this fear. When fear is so great that it is impossible to visit a therapist, one may try to become less sensitive to doctors by exposing oneself to them in non-medical contexts. While it may not be possible to completely alleviate the anxiety of visiting doctors, most people are able to gain enough control of their emotions to seek medical help when needed.
The best source of help when it comes to overcoming fear of doctors is a therapist. While a therapist is a type of doctor, mental health professionals are often found in more homely settings, which can help alleviate fears. Therapists also often encounter a number of sympathetic doctors, who can be particularly sympathetic to iatrophobia when the situation is explained in advance. A therapist, then, can not only help a person overcome a fear of doctors, but can also find a doctor who treats patients who are unable to cooperate due to fear.
Many people find that exposure to doctors and becoming familiar with the types of things doctors do can help overcome this fear. Reading books and watching documentaries about doctors can provide some relief, especially when doctors are portrayed in a positive light. Alternatively, hanging out in cafes and bars near hospitals, where doctors represent a large part of the clientele, can provide real exposure to doctors in a safe environment. After a lot of desensitization, a visit to a real doctor can seem relatively benign.
One possibility for people who suffer from this phobia is to use a doctor who makes home visits. In this way, the patient is treated in a familiar and safe environment, relieving at least part of the stress. Without the trauma of being surrounded by sick doctors and patients, many people with extreme fear can handle an encounter with a single doctor in plain clothes.
It is important to overcome the fear of doctors because intense iatrophobia can lead to cases where a seriously ill or injured patient does not seek treatment until it is too late. Most people are more afraid of dying than doctors are, so most people eventually seek treatment, but your symptoms can be severe at this point. Delay in treatment can be the difference between life and death, so it's important to get over this fear before an actual incident occurs.