Helping patients with a fear of doctors
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02-25-15 Category: Psychological Trauma

phobia of doctors

Most patients who need to see a doctor have reservations about the experience at one point or another. Fear of learning about a potential diagnosis, condition or illness is a normal concern. However, there are those who experience more serious symptoms that prevent necessary physician office visits. Of course, this fear carries with it the danger of an illness progressing and creating health risks that could have been otherwise avoided. A fear of doctors and treatment centers is known as latrophobia.


Patients who experience latrophobia may have irrational fears of anything related to the treatment experience. Therefore, this phobia may extend further than a fear of visiting a hospital or being in the presence of medical professionals. The patient may be frightened of taking medication as prescribed or situations that may lead to injury or germ exposure. However, if a person does not get the proper assistance, irrevocable damage, even death, may occur.

If the sufferer does indeed enter a hospital or treatment center, then the individual may experience a panic attack. This may be accompanied by symptoms such as trouble breathing, fatigue, perspiration and tingling sensations. One may become detached from reality, unable to think or speak clearly. Such occurrences will naturally stand in the way of these clients being able to receive the professional help they need, no matter how serious the circumstances may be in reality.


Though causes may vary, latrophobia is typically brought on by trauma that occurs during childhood. This is because negative associations with particular experiences, such as being injured or ill, are especially common at this age. Witnessing a loved one die in a hospital can leave a lasting impression. Having an additional, medical-related fear, such as a fear of needles, can also contribute to latrophobia. Patients expecting to receive an injection at the doctor’s office could be terrified as a result. Perhaps the individual is concerned about catching a contagious disease from another patient. Additionally, the need for a surgical operation may cause feelings of fear and nervousness.

The fear of needles is a recognized phobia in the “Diagnostic Statistical Manual,” or “DSM.” If a person with this phobia is exposed to a needle, they may experience lightheadedness, fainting or an anxiety attack. The majority of such patients also report a relative with a fear of needles. Therefore, there may be a genetic link that plays a pivotal role in this phobia. Blood tests are one of the most important diagnostic elements in modern health care, making treatment of this fear all the more important. Those who require treatment with a needle may request an anesthetic or sedative to help prepare them for the experience.


People who suffer from latrophobia may undergo different forms of treatment to help them overcome their fears. Cognitive behavioral therapy will allow a sufferer to better examine the cause of their concerns. This treatment will seek to shift a person’s reaction to being in a doctor’s office with a medical staff. Another option is medication, though this could prove challenging if a person has strong reservations about taking it. Anti-anxiety medication may be prescribed for such client to help ease their worries or concerns.

Coping mechanisms

There are a number of coping methods for patients to choose from to help them overcome their fear of treatment. Of course, it will be helpful to remind the patient of why undergoing such tests is rational and potentially lifesaving. The benefits of treatment should outweigh any discomfort and most medical tests are quite brief. Medical exams, such as screening for certain cancers, may mean the difference between life and death if the disease is detected soon enough.

Doctors can lessen the shock of an exam by preparing patients ahead of time. Typically, the physician will inform the patient of what to expect in terms of discomfort and how long the procedure will last. If a client feels as though most of the anxiety stems from a particular doctor, then he or she may choose to have another doctor see them. Speaking with a friend or relative about these experiences can also alleviate anxiety. Inviting a loved one to accompany the sufferer to an appointment will help the patient feel more comfortable and at ease. The bottom line is that those with symptoms should do all in their power to make sure they receive proper treatment. Identifying and treating an illness is the only way it will get better.

Here at Sovereign Health, we have successfully treated a number of patients for phobias and other health conditions, as well as substance abuse. Our holistic program will ensure a lasting recovery for our clients, along with life skills to help prevent relapse. Whether one suffers from latrophobia or a number of other medical conditions, we can help. Get in touch with our admissions team today to begin a new path to wellness.

Written by Ryan McMaster, Sovereign Health Group writer

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