Comforting a Patient With Medical Anxiety
Anxiety is a very common feeling for people as they enter a doctor’s office. Whether a patient is visiting you with a health concern or they are there to see an ultrasound of their growing baby, visits to the clinic can be a stressful experience. For some, the anxiety will be mild and quickly calmed but, for others, medical anxiety can be so debilitating that they avoid important doctor’s visits altogether.
As medical professionals, your goal is to ensure patients access preventive healthcare long before any major health issue arises. This is particularly true when you are dealing with expectant mothers. You want to ensure your patients feel safe and secure when they visit your clinic. While you can’t prevent anxiety in your patients entirely, the following tips can help you comfort patients with medical anxiety as well as help empower them to conquer their fears.
Understand Where Most Fears Stem From
Medical anxiety can range from mild to severe and where a patient lies on that spectrum largely has to do with where their fears come from. Each patient is unique and as you get to know them, you might be able to pick up on signs and cues that point to what the root cause of their anxiety is. By understanding where their fear comes from, you will have a better idea of how to adapt to reassure and comfort them. The following are some of the most common reasons for severe medical anxiety:
- A Bad Past Experience: The past often shapes how we view the present and future. If a patient had one bad medical experience, this can cause them anxiety for years down the road, no matter how good their new medical provider is. Perhaps they were misdiagnosed or maybe they interacted with a doctor who was calloused or uncaring. Just like one bad case of food poisoning can have you swearing off Mexican food for years, one bad medical experience can lead to a distrust for the field as a whole.
- A Fear Of Painful Procedures: Going to the doctor can involve being pricked, prodded, poked, and subjected to a series of unpleasant procedures. For many patients, their fear of the pain or discomfort they might undergo causes severe anxiety.
- Embarrassment Or Shame: You may encounter patients who have anxiety that stems from their own shame or embarrassment. Whether they are worried about being judged for their health habits or undressing to put on a hospital gown causes them distress, they may be anxious due to these strong feelings of shame.
- Worry About The Diagnosis: Going to the doctor can feel like opening up Pandora’s box. It can leave patients worried about what diagnosis they will receive. For many people, not knowing feels better than facing a bad diagnosis.
- A Painful Memory Associated With Medical Facilities: If your patient has watched a loved one suffer pain or pass away in a medical facility, going to the doctor can bring back those memories in full force. For those who have faced the tragedy of losing a loved one, even stepping foot into a doctor’s office can bring back extremely painful memories, which in turn causes anxiety when they think about ever going back to a doctor.
Ensure You Provide The Right Support
As you get to know your patient, try to think about what type of fears they express to you and what might be the root of that cause. If you have an exceptionally good relationship with your patient, you can even ask them to explain their anxiety and fear to you. The more open and caring you are about their anxiety, the better chance you will have of providing them comfort and ultimately in helping them overcome their anxieties.
Relating to the above list, here are some tips for providing the right support according to the root cause of the anxiety.
- Positive New Experience: While you can’t erase the past for your client, you can help them create a positive new experience. If they are willing to share with you about what happened in the past, listen carefully to ensure you don’t do anything that would trigger those memories unnecessarily during your care. Keep reassuring them that their health and comfort is your number one priority. Only time will be able to overcome a bad past experience with a positive new one.
- Prepare Them Ahead Of Time: If your patient has a strong fear of painful procedures and discomfort, start each appointment with an honest assessment about what lies ahead. By arming them with a detailed understanding of what will happen at the appointment, you can stop them from worrying unnecessarily.
- Reassurance & Empathy: If you have a patient who suffers from the anxiety that stems from their embarrassment or shame about their health habits, make sure you are compassionate and not judgmental when you discuss their lifestyle. While you may need to give them tips on ways to improve their health, be careful that you do not make them feel ashamed about how they currently take care of their health. This will lead them to hide things from their doctor and can cause anxiety when they need to interact with medical professionals.
- Calm Delivery: When a patient is worried about their diagnosis, there isn’t much you can do to change what news they might receive. However, you can remain calm and provide them with reassurance as you deliver any bad news. If you lead the conversation with compassion and with options for solutions, you can prevent them from developing a phobia of diagnostics.
- Compassion: If you find out your patient suffers from the anxiety that is induced due to watching a loved one die in a medical facility, the best thing you can do is be patient with them and practice compassion. Let them know that if at any time they are too overwhelmed to handle things, they can let you know and you can take a break. Allow them to head outside to breathe some fresh air they need and try to schedule their appointments with a little extra cushion of time. Often, just knowing that you care and will try to be sensitive to their needs goes a long way in calming their anxiety.
Only Use High-Quality, Safe Ultrasound Gel
If you conduct ultrasounds at your clinic, you may face the worry and fear of an expectant mother. Moms want the very best for their babies and they often will face their own unique set of anxiety, stemming from a true concern for their baby’s well being.
When you want to reassure your expectant mothers that the safety of them and their baby is your top priority, calm their anxiety by using high-quality and safe ultrasound gel. When you choose EcoVue®, you will enjoy all the following benefits.
- Bacteriostatic (added protection against bacteria)
- Chlorhexidine Free
- Kosher Certified
- Stain-Free Guaranteed
- Probe Friendly/Non-Corrosive
- Made in the USA (our ultrasound gel is manufactured in the United States under the strict scrutiny of the FDA)
We understand that one of your top priorities is ensuring your client experiences as little anxiety as possible while under your care. We work hard to provide you with the best ultrasound gel on the market to ensure your client will be safe and that your ultrasound will be a success. If you are interested in upgrading to a high-quality ultrasound jelly, please reach out to our team to learn more about EcoVue, a safe ultrasound lubricant gel.