What do you do if you're too embarrassed to go to the doctor?
Here are some pointers for when you're feeling uneasy, bashful, or even ashamed at the physician's office.
Doctors are responsible for all aspects of our health, down to our birthday suits and the most personal mental and physical problems. It's all part of the work description for professionals who deal with sensitive facts all day, every day.
However, you may feel awkward being candid or vulnerable with professionals you visit just a few times a year — or with whom you have just met. This may prevent you from being candid during a doctor visit; according to some studies, up to 81 percent of patients suppress information about their health behaviors from doctors out of fear of being criticized or chastised.
Alternatively, you may choose to avoid scheduling an appointment in the first place. And this hesitancy may have a negative impact on one's health.
There are numerous reasons why you may be hesitant to consult a physician. For instance:
You disregarded the physician's advice. Perhaps you did not follow your doctor's advice to take drugs, exercise, cut back on alcohol, lose weight, or quit smoking.
You are aware of the stigma associated with a sickness or disease. Discussing sensitive health issues — such as sexual dysfunction, sexually transmitted disease, diarrhea, flatulence, or mental illness — can be challenging. "Certain people experience embarrassment or shame as a result of having a certain illness. They do not want the public to be aware of it "According to Dr. Salamon.
You are obese. It can be embarrassing to walk on a scale, particularly in a public area such as a doctor's office hallway.
Avoiding doctor appointments for any reason, including shame, may have a detrimental effect on your health.
"I know people who keep putting off going to the doctor due to their obesity. However, being overweight, like obesity, can result in high blood pressure or cholesterol, all of which are risk factors for heart disease "According to Dr. Salamon. "We have effective medications for hypertension and high cholesterol, but if a patient is too ashamed to seek our assistance, we will be unable to detect and treat these illnesses."
Avoiding medical care is especially risky if you have a family history of disease or if you disregard suggested health screenings such as skin checks or a colonoscopy.
When you see your doctor, it's natural to feel embarrassed about something. "These thoughts appear to be much more prevalent among people who were forced to delay routine care during the pandemic," says Dr. Jennifer Gatchel, a geriatric psychiatrist affiliated with Harvard's Massachusetts General Hospital. "The key is to recognize that your feelings are normal and to confront them directly."
Here are a few methods for accomplishing it.
Carry out a reality check. Inquire as to the validity of your concerns or fears. "For instance, if you're concerned that your doctor will be angry with you and lecture you about something, ask yourself if this has ever happened before," Dr. Gatchel advises. If this is the case, you may wish to seek a new physician. If not, consider that you may be neglecting possible outcomes, such as your doctor expressing empathy and assisting you in regaining your footing.
Consult a trustworthy friend. "Another perspective can be beneficial," Dr. Gatchel explains. "For instance, if you are falling behind on your prescription regimen and are fearful of being chastised by a doctor, speak with a friend. The friend may be able to assist you in evaluating your expectations and provide a more objective perspective—for example, by inquiring how many doses you've missed and emphasizing that they, too, have missed doses and that it's typical."
When you're ashamed in the doctor's office, speak out. Here are some quick approaches to troubleshoot.
If you're humiliated by your failure to follow suggestions. "It is your body, and you have the freedom to follow or disregard the counsel you get," Dr. Salamon explains. "Be candid and explain why you haven't taken action." Perhaps you lack the time (or the funds) to follow your doctor's instructions precisely. "Perhaps you are already on an excessive number of drugs and adding another would be too complicated. Frequently, your doctor can assist you in simplifying your therapies "she says.
If you are self-conscious about your weight. "Inform your doctor that you are sensitive to it, that you have been dealing with it, and that you would like to learn how to cope with those feelings. For instance, you could be able to have your weight measured in a private room where no one except the medical assistant taking your weight will be able to view the result "According to Dr. Gatchel.
If you're uneasy with the other people in the room. "It is not unusual for another health worker to be there in the room with you and your doctor these days. If this causes you discomfort, it is OK to request to meet with the doctor alone "Dr. Gatchel makes a suggestion.
If you are hypersensitive to a specific condition. "If you have a stigmatized ailment, such as HIV, consider visiting a clinic that specializes in that condition. Your situation will not be uncommon there; it will be the norm, which may make you feel more at ease "According to Dr. Salamon.
If you're nervous about undressing, Dr. Salamon advises, "ask if you can keep your clothing on for the exam, or at least keep some of your clothes on." "Or choose a doctor who is of the same sex as you, which may make things easier for you."
What else might be beneficial?
Avoid self-condemnation if you feel ashamed in the doctor's office. Many people share this sentiment. You live in the real world; doctors do not anticipate perfection; they have a large number of patients who have failed to follow medical advice or achieve a medical goal, such as weight loss.
Above all, avoid skipping medical appointments out of fear of poor interaction with your doctor. You should be able to communicate your worries to your doctor, and your doctor should respond empathically. If this does not occur, it is usually time to seek a new physician.
Information source: Health Harvard.