Although there are fantastic doctors in the healthcare field, many people avoid medical treatment for a variety of reasons. For some, it doesn’t even come down to bad experiences with doctors, but rather more systemic issues such as lack of affordability or access. Others may distrust healthcare organizations and institutions, and therefore seek out homeopathic care.
Whatever the reason for your doctor avoidance, it’s important to receive proper medical care. Your health and wellbeing should be your number one priority, no matter what fears or concerns you may have.
Reasons We Avoid Going To The Doctor
Unfortunately, aversions to doctors are a lot more common than you might think — nearly one-third of adults avoid seeing a doctor, even when they know that medical care is necessary. Some reasons for this include:
Anxiety Or Other Psychological Distress
Studies show that anxiety and other mental health and psychological issues are common reasons people avoid receiving necessary healthcare. Many of us deal with anxiety in some way, but for those who suffer more severe psychological distress, visiting the doctor can feel especially scary and trigger feelings of intense panic and anxiety.
Distrust Of Doctors
We’ve all had moments where we felt like our doctor wasn’t listening to us or prescribing the proper treatment. Women especially struggle with this, and all too often, doctors will downplay or dismiss their symptoms or concerns. This is one of the main reasons women and other marginalized communities suffer from doctor avoidance. What’s the point in paying for the visit if your doctor is just going to ignore you or prescribe something wholly unnecessary?
Prefer Self-Care Or Alternative Medicine
Many of those who have had bad experiences with modern medicine will turn to alternative or homeopathic practices to treat their ailments instead. Even those who have never had a bad experience might simply have a more natural or non-traditional perspective when it comes to treating illness. Either way, integrative medicine practices are gaining in popularity and often result in an avoidance of mainstream doctors and treatments.
Fear Of Needles
For some, having a fear of needles, otherwise known as trypanophobia, is the main reason why they experience doctor avoidance. Individuals will continually procrastinate making appointments or cancel the ones they already have when they know ahead of time that their doctor is going to utilize needles, injections, or vaccines.
If you don’t have insurance, or if the plan you do have doesn’t have good coverage, you may avoid the doctor because you can’t afford the cost of treatment. This is a reasonable concern, and unfortunately, with the rising cost of healthcare, all too common.
According to CNBC, nearly 22% of Americans avoid medical care because of the cost, and nearly 15% have family members that did the same. Since this is a systemic issue, it’s a problem that needs systemic solutions.
How To Overcome Your Fears
All of the above reasons and concerns are understandable. However, whether you feel you have a good reason or not, avoiding seeking necessary medical care will often do you more harm than good. It’s typically in your best interest to take care of your health and visit the doctor — not only in times of need but for preventative care as well. If you find you’re anxious, distrustful, or have other concerns, the following are some ways you can overcome these issues:
- Know your rights – If you don’t trust your doctor or fear they will do something you don’t want them to do, it’s helpful to read up on your rights as a patient. In many situations, doctors have a strict duty to obey your wishes and follow your healthcare directives.
- Advocate for yourself – Speak up and don’t let your doctor dismiss you or your concerns. Women especially should show confidence when speaking to their healthcare providers. Keep records of everything your doctor does and says, and let them know you’re perfectly happy seeking a second opinion if they won’t listen.
- Bring someone for support – It’s always a good idea to have someone with you for support if you have concerns. Whether they’re simply there to offer comfort and moral support or to advocate for you, having a loved one by your side can help you have a more positive doctor’s visit experience.
- Look into a patient advocate : If money is a concern, some doctor’s offices, health centers, and hospitals have patient advocates on hand to help with insurance and finances.
- Use relaxation techniques : If you feel overwhelming fear or anxiety when visiting a doctor, try using things like meditation or breathing exercises to help calm you down. You can even do some yoga ahead of time or listen to relaxing music while sitting in the waiting room.
There are a variety of reasons why people may avoid seeking the medical care they need. Fortunately, there are multiple ways to allay the fears or concerns that come with their doctor avoidance. Use the techniques listed above whenever necessary, and when in doubt, don’t be afraid to talk to your medical provider about any hesitations you might have.