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The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Does Seeing White Cause You Fright?

Does Seeing White Cause You Fright?

Cold, sweaty palms. A heightened heartbeat. The feeling of pure dread. We’ve all been there. There is a time in all of our lives when we are anxious about something. Perhaps public speaking makes us anxious, or trying something new for the first time gives us that apprehensive feeling? While anxiety is a common feeling among us all, it can negatively impact a person’s life if not controlled properly. Anxiety, in general, can have a crippling effect on a person’s overall health short-term and long-term wise. For instance, it is not uncommon for your body to react mentally and physically from a feeling of anxiety by having an increased heart rate, sweaty palms, and/or a feeling of depression.

White Coat Syndrome, Is It Real?
For some people, it is hard to understand why doing something that is supposed to be good for you creates anxiety. Keeping an eye on our overall health is a very important part of living a long, healthy life. So, why are some people full of nerves when making that yearly, or monthly, visit? For many people, going to the doctor’s office is a trip that creates anxiety. Iatrophobia, or fear of going to the doctor, is actually a  common feeling for many people. Some people even have anxiety so bad that they will put off a doctor’s visit as long as possible. Not only is this a bad idea health wise, but putting off that appointment doesn’t actually get rid of the anxiety. It only puts it off temporarily and the feeling can only intensify as time goes on.

Even if someone does not show any of the outward effects of entering the doctor’s office, like shaky hands and/or sweaty palms, our body may still be reacting from anxiety. Has anyone ever told you about White Coat Syndrome? Well, some people swear that their blood pressure goes sky high when measured in a doctor’s office, but if taken in another setting it goes down twenty or thirty points. Recent medical research shows that this so-called White Coat Syndrome has proven to be a real thing. Feelings of anxiety are associated with a release if adrenaline. A surge of adrenaline can cause an increase heart rate and raise blood pressure temporarily while the stressor is present.

So, What Can Be Done?
While we can’t just stop worrying about certain things that make us nervous, there are things we can all do to try and ease anxiety. The first step is perhaps the hardest. In order to address an issue, the issue has to be pointed out first. This means owning up to the fact that going to the doctors is something that makes you nervous. Managing anxiety is actually an important part of staying healthy. Ignoring our fears only keeps them masked in the dark. The only way to address our fears is to bring them to the surface. By taking charge of the situation, like making that doctor’s appointment and not putting it off, one can empower themselves and face their fears head on.

The first step to overcoming Iatrophobia or any type of anxiety really, is to acknowledge the fact that you are not alone. Realizing this and reaching out to others for support can be just the thing for overcoming some of the anxiety that you feel. The anxiety may not completely go away, and you may always have that nervous feeling at the pit of your stomach, but facing our fears can give us a new sense of empowerment.

The relationship you share with your healthcare provider is also very important. Let him/her know that you are nervous and you may be surprised at how understanding they are. Some people view their doctors as uncaring, unfeeling examiners who are trying to find something wrong with you. This may be an excuse for putting off that appointment, but doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. Doctors are there to help you. It is their job and they are actually people just like you and me. Having an open and honest relationship with a doctor who you feel comfortable with is crucial.

Some other ideas for dealing with anxiety include: meditating, doing breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques, like massage therapy and body decompressions. Relaxation techniques are good for your whole body and take less time than you may think. Meditation, or doing yoga, for instance, can be done in fifteen minute intervals for distressing the body on a daily basis. Research on meditation has shown to have a positive effect on our nervous system and can help you be more resilient to stress. Take a look at this website to get a feel for how mediation works. These activities are all beneficial to taking stress and anxiety out of the mind and body. Anxiety and stress can be a silent, but destructive, killer to our overall health. That is why it is important to recognize and deal with the issues that impact our overall well-being in everyday life to be our best, healthy selves.

1 comment

1 Irene W. { 04.30.14 at 3:32 pm }

I ‘suffer’ from White Coat Syndrome. Even though I love my doctor and I’m not afraid of going in for a check up, my blood pressure shoots up 50-60 points(top number)!!! Because of this high reading, I was put on more blood pressure medication, twice a day. I told my doctor that my blood pressure readings are never this high when I take it at home. He advised me to record my readings 2-4 times a day for a few weeks, and then bring in my blood pressure monitor for calibration with his. I did that. After he saw my numbers from home, which were in a normal range, he took my blood pressure with my monitor and then with his. Blood pressure shot up on both about 50 points or so. WHITE COAT SYNDROME has been noted on my chart. I’m still on both medications, though, because of family history, etc.

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