Taking Control: Practical Strategies for Dealing with Medical Test or Procedure Anxiety
July 25, 2023
Medical tests can vary, from simple bodily fluid tests (like blood tests), imaging tests (like MRIs), biopsies to genetic testing and more. Although these tests are typically safe and low risk, the idea of them can still cause anxiety. It is completely normal to feel a little nervous before a medical test or procedure. However, for some of us, this nervousness can evolve into something more intense - medical test anxiety. This is when fear and worry related to medical procedures, that are designed to diagnose or monitor our health, start causing us distress or physical symptoms like a rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath.
If you find that medical tests are something you dread, understanding the tests and learning how to manage your fears can make a significant difference. Here are five practical strategies to help you cope:
- Deep Breathing: Taking slow, deep breaths can help reduce feelings of anxiety.
- Counting: Silently count to 10, which can help distract your mind from the situation.
- Imagery: Close your eyes and visualize a peaceful place or situation to help calm your nerves.
- Muscle Relaxation: Concentrating on relaxing your muscles can help reduce physical symptoms of anxiety.
- Talking: Having a chat with someone in the room can be a great distraction.
For those with specific types of anxiety, here are some additional coping strategies:
- Trypanophobia – the fear of needles: Drinking water before a blood test can make the process easier, or you can ask for a topical anaesthetic to numb the skin.
- Iatrophobia – the fear of doctors: Bringing a supportive friend or family member to your appointment can provide a lot of reassurance. Distractions like a book or a magazine can also help.
- Claustrophobia – the fear of enclosed spaces: If you have an upcoming MRI scan, consider inquiring about the availability of sedation or an open MRI scanner. These options can help alleviate any feelings of confinement or discomfort during the procedure.
As difficult as medical anxiety is, it’s important that you do not let it prevent you from getting the care you need. If you are struggling, it's okay to seek help. Talking to your healthcare provider or a mental health professional can provide additional resources to manage medical test anxiety. It is all about prioritizing your well-being, and that includes your mental health. You do not need to be alone on this journey.
Disclaimer: The content provided in this blog post is intended solely for informational purposes and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult with a healthcare provider for personal health concerns. Any actions taken based on the information provided in this blog are at the reader's discretion. The company is not responsible for any outcome or consequences resulting from information obtained from this blog.