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Fear of Doctors

By October 9, 2008

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Are you afraid of going to the doctor? If so, you are not alone. This surprisingly common fear affects people of all ages and walks of life. Most people are able to manage the fear successfully, but for some it can become a paralyzing phobia known as iatrophobia. You may also experience a range of related fears, including fear of needles and white coat hypertension. Fortunately, iatrophobia can and should be treated before it jeopardizes your health.

Do you suffer from a fear of doctors? Share your story in our forums, where you can get sympathy and suggestions from other members.

October 20, 2008 at 11:57 am
(1) jh says:

I have a pretty big doctor phobia. It took me fifteen years to go back to see one–finally I found a doctor who is both an MD and a Chinese Medical doctor. He was less hurried and spent nearly an hour talking to me before examination, helping to alleviate my fears. This is definitely the way to go.


April 3, 2009 at 8:28 pm
(2) cathy says:

i have feared doctors for as long as i could remember. the fear of the unknown gets the better of me every time. i put off appointments for years, suffering thru everything imaginable trying to self treat with otc remedies that often do not help. no idea where this fear originated but i am 45 years old now and the fear has only gotten worse with age. i know i will never change and that i am doomed.

April 3, 2009 at 9:02 pm
(3) Jen says:

I’m not afraid of doctors per se, but I am extremely apprehensive about getting routine gynecological exams because every single doctor I have been to for that service has been cold, condescending, and generally treated me as if I were the scum on the bottom of their shoe. I don’t know how to get over it, I’m terrified of going to get checked out and a doctor humiliating me. My mom got cervical cancer at my age and I fear I will get it and die of it. Please help!

April 22, 2009 at 5:34 pm
(4) Gertie says:

Yes I also fear doctors and especially needles, usually fainting at every blood draw. Its ridiculous but an almost overwhelming phobia where I will avoid the situation at all costs.

May 19, 2009 at 5:10 am
(5) Satish says:

I am suffering from hypertension from 8 years. Several encounters with doctor gave me horrible experiences. I’ve finally started taking BP medicines which doctor advised long ago. But even Now I cant even muster up courage to go to doctor to get myself checked whether my BP levles are ok. Scared to Death.

May 31, 2009 at 12:54 pm
(6) Catherine Morgan says:

I, too am TERRIBLY afraid of doctors, but I have good reason to be. At age 23, I developed SEVERE panic disorder and unipolar depression. My husband finally took me to a psychiatrist who prescribed Valium (been on it every since, and I am now 62. Also I take Prozac for depression, Estratest for severe menopausal symptoms, and Provera. Three years ago…just OVERNIGHT, I developed Rheumatoid Arthritis…with hideous pain, deformed fingers and wrists, neck swelling, inability to turn my head, knee and ankle swelling plus the most SEVERE PAIN I have ever endured! I was referred by my psychiatrist to a rheumatologist who started me on Methotrexate and Prednisone. The Prednisone did something to my mind, and I was later told I attempted to kill my husband and pets. ::((( I was then put on low dose Prednisone..5 mg. Nothing helped and my wrist bones were destroyed. Finally, I was put on the drug Humira which has helped immensely. Oh..forgot to say that in 1978, a neighbor (relative with mental disorder) attempted to shoot me, but the shot missed but spooked my horse. I was kicked in the face, lost my right eye (taken OUT by a doctor who “said” it was ruined :-( (, and my entire lower jaw. Before that, I had worked as a fashion model part-time. Well that was in 1978, and I lived through the accident even though my husband was told I lost so much blood I’d never make it. I fought my way through the accident and even though I could not go out in public without covering my hideous face, I DID go places. Then…RA hit me, and I wanted to DIE as the pain was SO HORRIBLE!! Now the other day, a pap smear showed I have HPV..something I never heard of. I’ve only had one sexual partner when I was young..my husband, and he is much older than me and has had ED for over 20 years..hence..NO SEX. He want me to have all my organs removed, but at this point in life, I AM DONE WITH DOCTORS!! I’ve fought SO HARD all my adult life to deal with all the problems and kept managing to fight…fight…and fight more. But now, I just don’t want to even be TOUCHED by a doctor anymore. I get the RA shots every two weeks…given by my hubby and scream for hours each time as the pain of the shot is so hideous. I have been offered morphine which I refused as I have ALWAYS fought so hard. I am tired, tired of illness, tired of the rotten medical profession and have finally reached the end of my rope. I’ve developed a TERRIBLE FEAR of doctors now and NEVER want to see one again!! I have no belief in any “god”..never have..never will…I just feel everyone goes into non-existence as though we were never born. My husband feels the same. Would it be wrong for me to just ignore the HPV diagnosis and just let nature take its course? I am old and tired, and the fight has gone out of me at this point in life. I have no relatives (all are dead), no friends…just my hubby who gets the groceries and takes me to the doctor as I cannot drive because of my vision. We live in a very remote area far from anyone and LOVE the country and peace. Guess I just wondered if anyone reading this feels the same as I do….forget the HPV test results and go on the best I can as I’ve been doing. The only decent looking part of me left are my well…hehe…top and my…um privates as I’ve never had a child and haven’t any scars on my body…just my face is destroyed. Maybe I just needed to vent as I found this forum by accident and needed to talk about my doctor fear. BTW, my yearly pap smear is HORRIBLE..the PAIN is far worse than the accident I had or the RA!! It always feels like I’m being torn apart inside as I’m very, very small. It doesn’t last long, but it’s HIDEOUS!! Since the HPV diagnosis, I’ve been fainting constantly, have screaming episodes and am just going all to h— inside. I’ve finally decided to just let it go and let nature take its course. How many out there would feel like me? Just wondering

August 24, 2009 at 11:37 pm
(7) kath says:

Your doctor has no idea what he is talking about!! HPV is just a ‘risk factor’ for cervical cancer – definitely not an indication for removal of any of your internal organs! If you have no abnormal cells on the smear, there is no need to do anything at all except keep up with the regular smear tests. Even an abnormal smear only means you need further investigation (colposcopy).

December 15, 2009 at 1:46 pm
(8) tina says:

I’m 16 years old and have gynecological iatrophobia. I have a lot of gynecological problems yet the few times I have attempted to go to the gynecologist have failed epicly. I tried to jump out of my mother’s car on the way once, ran out of the building once, and everytime i’m there I break into hysterics. I have had no abuse in my life or anything i just cannot bring myself to let them examine me. Once i was heavily drugged and somehow managed to make myself go. I still broke into hysterics and had to leave. I have been having frequent night terrors about being forced to go have an examination and I am at the end of my rope here. I have been having severe pelvic pain and no menstrual periods, yet I CAN’T make myself go in for an examination just the thought of it makes me start to freak out. I am completely lost now.

I understand and sympathize will all of you here and I wish you the best of luck with your problems. To Catherine: I too believe you should let nature take its course. Doctors are not always right and maybe its time you let your body do its thing. If I were in your place i would be devastated too :( ((

March 2, 2010 at 12:24 pm
(9) rachelle says:

i have had a strong fear of going to the doctors for years. i think it is a combination of things….the fear of the unknown (what if the diagnosis is bad?) and the fear of tests that may be painful. i have been to doctors many, many times. i have had a few bad experiences where doctors have not taken me seriously when i was suffering or where they have un-intentionally said deeply upsetting things (i haven’t been able to travel for a long time because of my ibs and the doctor said he would fix me up and i could go wherever i wanted to go…..but in fact the doctor did not help me at all). i just have to force myself to go in to the doctor and if i fall apart then, its so embarrassing but, i can’t help it.

March 29, 2011 at 10:18 am
(10) frenk says:
June 12, 2011 at 11:07 pm
(11) Jenn says:

I’m 34 yrs old. I work in the medical field and I hv been diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder. My greatest fear is of doctors. I don’t fear them as people I fear the painful exas ad procedures, tests, treatments and bad news. I know this ailment is going to kill me in the end. I hv recently been battling some gyno issues .. I discharged so much for 7 months straight tht I had to wear a pad… I self diagnosed and self treated using antibiotics I ordered online. They didn’t work but eventually the discharging stopped now I’m bleeding. I get so angry and I treat everyone around me like crap because I’m fed up with being ill.. I’m so tired of being scared but there’s nothing I can do about it.. I’ve had many prayers but yet to be answered.. I’m so scared to die and leave my babies behind . I cry everyday because I hv no control over gods will and god only knows what his will is. I always expect the worse and no one understands they just call me crazy.. I’m surrounded by illness and death so I know wht lies ahead and reality is grim n my eyes

November 8, 2011 at 4:48 pm
(12) Mandy says:

I feel the same way…we all have to be strong tho its all n the mind. We cant let fear control us.

February 29, 2012 at 8:05 pm
(13) Marie says:

i’m scared of doctors due to the fact i’m scared of getting bad news that might turn my life around.I always feel like i’m being stupid i’m only 17 and i worrie about everything.I think it may be because i over think everything and i always prepare myself for the worst :/ but i feel like doing that prepares me for what the doctor or anyone mitt say

April 20, 2012 at 9:26 pm
(14) dana says:

i too am scared to go to dr fear of outcome…i havent had a pap in yr i have al symptoms of female cancer im so scared im living in fear God help me.

May 11, 2012 at 1:09 pm
(15) Melissa says:

I was afraid of the gyno too, although no as bad as some of you. I found that it helped first of all going to a woman. Second of all, I found a gyno nurse practioner online that had really great reviews for being a good listener. When I went, I told her that I was a bit afraid of the check up and ask that she be sure to let me know everything she was going to do and what to expect. She did and while it was still not a pleasant experience, I got through it and have been back to her yearly.

I find that as I get older I do have a fear of going to doctors in general. I am a pretty healthy person but I hate needles and tests and I do feel as if doctors don’t always take the time to listen. I go anyway, but the anxiety beforehand is aweful.It’s always such a relief when it’s over.

June 7, 2012 at 5:25 pm
(16) hoop says:

Hi. I have a terrible fear of GPs. I was sexually abused over 1 1/2 years as a teenager. I am now 38. Few healthcare professionals are sympathetic to this. I am a gibbering wreck when I go. There appears to be no help available for this and my physical and mental health is suffering because of this.

June 10, 2012 at 10:12 am
(17) Katy says:

I am 16 and have a huge fear of doctors and needles. Just thinking about going to the docotrs makes me feel like im going to get sick. The other day my mom tryed to take me to the doctors and i locked my self in my room. I think i might have depression but im to afraid to go. At school they had a blood drive i felt like i was gonna pass out thinking about the people with needles. Last time i went to the doctors they had to hold me down. Its so embarressing but i just cant help it. My family doesnt get me and just makes fun of me. Whenever i think of doctors i think of pain.

July 6, 2012 at 9:43 am
(18) nova says:

im really afraid af the doctor and have been since i was a baby.I dont know why. I never had a bad experience. im 11 years old. When ever i think about going my heart beats really fast so when they do my blood pressure they have me do it over and over again. They think that i have high blood pressure now.Its really embarissing

August 16, 2012 at 7:52 am
(19) ashley says:

I was afraid of doctors
the fear came from doctors making light of me being a heavy girl. Never really helped besides give a rude,cold comment. My allergy doctor even went through losing “inches off my waist” conversation as a young teen- not the place and time!
Finally I moved away for college and never really went to the doctor except to go to urgent care when I was really sick a few times with sinus infections. Recently I moved away 3 hours from home, 1 1/2 hours from college, to start my full time job recently. My company is very health conscience and requires you establish a Primary doctor within the first month of work. So my hunt was in to find a doctor. I actually am going to a doctor that is an elder in my new church. He is so nice and has relieved my anxieties. My recommendation: find someone you see outside the office as well to get to know them other than in your office to establish a line of communication outside the office. It has really helped me! :D going for my physical in about a week. First visit was a get to know you and just talk appointment :D good luck! You can conquer your fears!

September 16, 2012 at 4:49 am
(20) elitoglence says:

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September 19, 2012 at 9:58 am
(21) smartin says:

Try and find a doctor who will do a thorough exam once a year. I have a seperate gyno so I have to go through the panic twice a year! Let them know about your doc phobia. They are quite familiar with it. Since I start to hyperventilate just making the appointment, I try and set the date and then forget about it. Go for a walk and take deep breathes. Get a massage. Call an understanding friend. On the day of appointment, go early, and walk around the parking lot before going in. Breathe in, breathe out.
For me it’s like going in front of a firing squad and I tell them so!
BUT, the fear of not knowing is worse than the fear of going, and the stress caused by this may be causing some of the health issues.
So, remember you are not alone in this, pick up the phone and make the appointment.
I was SO relieved when I got the report back yesterday that the colonoscopy I had a week ago was normal! I convinced myself in this week, while waiting for the report, that I was dead meat. This is what we do to ourselves.
Not geting that terrifying colonoscopy, and worrying forever about it, would have destroyed my nerves!
I am praying for you, my fellow doctor cowards. I turn into a five year old and my doctor knows it. God bless him.
(Dr Ciskey in Kansas)

October 23, 2012 at 6:14 pm
(22) Moody says:

If you fear doctors, there is very good reason for it. Medical mistakes, misdiagnosis, incorrect treatments, understaffed, or Dr. guessing on your health, etc. I could go on. I try to take care of myself so I don’t get sick and I try to avoid doctors as much as I can. I sometimes wish I can travel to other countries and bring back the cures for some of these American epidemics.

October 26, 2012 at 2:56 pm
(23) Charlee says:

I have an extreme fear of going to the doctor – pretty well anything medical related. The only things during my adult life that have gotten me through a doctor’s door were birth control (to a planned parenthood clinic every 5 years for an IUD change) or extreme pain (usually sinus infections). I have not needed birth control 11 years (the hubby is fixed) and have only darkened a doctor’s done 2 times during that time.

I detest being touched by anyone that I don’t know really well (aka my husband) – causes HUGE anxiety close to a panic attack. I also detest their attitudes to me. As soon as the doctor finds out that I haven’t been for years they roll their eye, treat me like something on their shoe and often start with the patronizing lecture. I know what we are “supposed” to do, I choose not to…..get over it.

I also have a massive fear that I will be diagnosed with something that will require me to come back to the doctor many more times (or be hospitalized) and go through even more anxiety…..it is absolutley terrifying!

To top it all off, I don’t have much faith in their ability to diagnose and treat serious things like cancer……horrible aweful treatments then you die anyway……

December 12, 2012 at 1:26 am
(24) Sue says:

Hey Cathy,
I feel the same as you , I have panic attacks just thinking of going to the Dr, but my worst fear is having to go for tests and waiting for the out come to be told I have something wrong . I haven’t been to the Dr for many years bit in June moved to a different area so went to put my families name down on a new Drs register, we all had to go for a check up , as I was healthy,,I took a deep breath .. My results came back, diabetic!!!!!
Since then my health has taken a turn for be worse, i am parinoid thinking about all the possible complications, I have lost weight, and 24/7 diabetes has controlled my every day, I keep putting off more blood tests, eye checks, Drs visits, I just can’t cope with having more bad news, I am not strong enough, even writing this thinking about the Dr or more tests is bringing on a panic attack! No one understands!! People tell me rather know than not know, knowing would put me in a grave much faster than not knowing, I was a healthy 50 year old woman now I feel and look 80, with the constant threat that I know I have diabetes and I should go in for regular health check ups, but I make the appointments and cancel, my life before my illness was so much happier and healthier, now I am a shadow of myself, I wake up nd go to sleep with anxiety ruling my days!

December 20, 2012 at 10:23 pm
(25) Kaite says:

Even THINKING about going to the docters scares me soo much.. My mom now tells me the day before tht i have to go. But she used to tell me in weeks advance and up until the day i had to go i wouldnt eat wouldnt sleep nothing. Im so scared. I started failing school because in class all i think about is how in 5years ill probably have a tumor or cancer and have to STAY at the docters. I think i may know the cause but im not sure, when i was in 5th grade i was in a hospital for metal care only and when i first got there i was crying because i had a fear of needles so i said to the nurse”if i go, will i have to get a needle?” and she replied to me and my mother “no we promise you wont be touched” ..so when my mom left they took me to my room and what did they do??!? They TOOK BLOOD..WITH A NEEDLE!! the nurse freckin LIED to me. I cried the hole time i was there becuz i didnt want them to touch me! And to this day needles scare me and eveeything docter related. Im always on edge thinking that something is wrong with me. I’ll get a cold and think its cancer. I’ll have a stomach ache , and think i have a tumor. Its horrible. I dont think ill ever be able to change

December 21, 2012 at 11:29 pm
(26) Mme. Anonymous says:

Iatrophobia caused my husband’s BP and Diabetes numbers to spike so bad that he ended up in critical care for a week. It didn’t help that the hospital did nothing to help him. Doctors just don’t care what their lack of consideration can do to a patient, and quite frankly, there is nothing they have done for my husband nor myself that reassures me.

January 7, 2013 at 12:09 pm
(27) marilyn crandall says:

It’s such a relief to know your not alone i this big world, I had avoided going to the doctors after i had pre-cancer cells removed from me,That was 2000, two years ago i was going to the bathroom and noticed a palup (however you spell that) I went to the emergency room., where the doctor said it looked benign and that the rest of me was heathly as well but i needed a follow up. You would think that would make me go get it out.. Oh noo i procrastinated to the point of now two years later and the damn thing smells funny.. i look up definition which i have feared to do and i am dying…. my loving family have dealt with my crazyness long enough, i made an appointment today and please pray i do not have cancer….. my biggest fear. I’ll update. I am sooo scared i wish i could get nerve pills. but i don’t know anyone that would just give them to me. ugh i hate phobia i’m trying to break this horrible cycle so my kids can learn fro mthis

January 11, 2013 at 8:34 am
(28) nicolette stepro says:

I thought it was just me. I have an appt. and the anxiety has me sick to my stomach almost in tears. I think about it all the time up to the appt. The judging, the dismissive attitude (and I’m in the health field, and believe me it extends to all, not just patients), and if you have something chronic or weight issues, the constant way you never meet their level of ‘compliance’. God I hate that word, non-compliant.

And now I have bp so bad/diabetes that she wants follow-ups constantly. And they use the threat of you not getting your medication to make you come in. Or threaten to ‘fire’ you as a patient. Yeah. That helps.

And I had chest pains/ exercise intolerance so bad for years but I figured I’d rather die than go back. And I didn’t until it got go bad that every morning walking into work, a 5 minute walk took 30 because of the angina-like symptoms which make you think you are having a heart attack.

And I had menstrual-like/ovary pain so bad I was taking Advil/ 3 ibuprofen on rotation every 2 hrs, for days, sometimes until I made myself sick. And the ovary pain that went on for a year that had me in tears at one point. I figure was a cyst. Almost caved then but didn’t. And yes it has gone away mostly I don’t know whether to its running its course (most likely from the research I did), or the progesterone cream.

I f’ng hate doctors. I hate feeling like this. I don’t drink but I am seriously thinking of starting to deal with this. At least just the weeks before I have to go in.

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