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Millions of Americans have anxiety about visiting the doctor. Even when it’s just for a routine checkup, a visit to the doctor can cause a patient to experience common symptoms of anxiety such as increased heart rate, sweating and general feelings of distress. Some patients even experience a condition called “white coat syndrome” that is characterized by a sudden increase in blood pressure that occurs when a patient enters a doctor’s office.


According to a recent study, 41 percent of respondents reported that they will not visit a dentist for a routine checkup because of the anxiety that they experience at a dental office. Needless to say, by refusing to go to a doctor because of anxiety, patients can unknowingly develop health conditions that go untreated.


The good news is that today’s doctors understand patient anxiety better than ever before. In an effort to relieve patients of their anxiety, doctors are developing new ways to help them feel at ease from the second that they walk into the waiting room.


Using Humor

Many patients avoid seeing doctors because they are afraid of receiving bad news. Doctors are trying to alleviate this fear by using humor during visits with patients. By engaging in humorous conversation, patients feel at ease immediately and can stop fearing for the worst.


Extensive studies have proven that humor is a successful coping strategy when it comes to anxiety. One recent study demonstrated that students who had anxiety about an upcoming test received better grades when the test contained humorous questions.


By using humor, doctors are treating patients like friends instead of sick people. This helps patients feel more at ease from the moment that they walk into a doctor’s office.

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Spending More Time with Each Patient

Some doctors see so many patients each day that they can only spend between 10 and 15 minutes with each patient. For patients who are anxious about their health, this may not be enough time to get the answers that they are looking for that will help them feel relieved of their concerns. Plus, a doctor who is in a hurry to get to the next patient will most likely not take the time to help the patient feel at ease.


Luckily, more and more doctors are discovering how crucial it is to allow each patient enough time during their visit to discuss their health concerns at length. Additionally, a longer visit allows the doctor to strike up light conversation with the patient, helping them feel more comfortable.


Experimenting with Decor

There are many ways that a doctor can decorate their office in a way that puts patients at ease. Several studies have shown that fluorescent lighting can increase feelings of anxiety and stress. That’s why so many doctors are turning to tabletop lamps and natural light in their waiting rooms and offices.


Another study has found that fish tanks can reduce a patient’s feelings of anxiety, improve their overall mood and lower their heart rate.


Additionally, studies have linked relaxing music to decreased feelings of anxiety. That’s why so many doctors have become more selective with the music that is played in their office.


This experimenting with décor often involves the devices a patient comes in contact with. A patient’s comfort is incredibly important. Using outdated exam chairs that don’t offer adequate back support can leave a patient feeling uncomfortable and uneasy. Luckily, more and more doctors are investing in comfortable and high-quality exam chairs, medical tables, and even waiting room chairs that allow a patient to feel at ease as soon as they sit down to be examined.

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Patient anxiety is a legitimate condition that prevents countless Americans from visiting doctors when they need medical care. Luckily, doctors of today are finding ways to combat this anxiety so that their patients can feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible.