03/05/2013 04:37 pm ET Updated May 05, 2013

Facing Your Doctor Fearlessly

As medical maladies become more and more accessible via a simple online search, people have much more to fear, theoretically. A minor symptom entered into Google can yield devastatingly inaccurate information. As a result, fear develops. The reactions to this are either running to the doctor for every minor ache and pain, perhaps unnecessarily, or quite the opposite: avoidance. They fear the worst and are afraid to go to the doctor for an annual exam, so they simply don't go. In the short term this strategy helps reduce anxiety, but in the long term, looking the other way never got anyone healthy or eliminated a medical issue.

This fear of the doctor is quite normal, and also something you can overcome. Think about it: You're afraid to see the very people who know your body best and spent years learning about diseases and treatment. Logically, it makes sense for you to see the doctor. Emotionally, though, your thinking is much different, and ultimately it beats out the logical part. A visit to the doctor brings uncertainty as you don't know what the exam will yield, so your mind fills in the blanks in a negative and catastrophic way. For example, "What if I'm diagnosed with a deadly disease?" "What if he orders invasive tests?" Rather than thinking about the potential positive gains made from a routine check-up, you're thinking of all the worst scenarios.

Here are some ways to beat these fears:

  • Do you see your physician as Dr. Evil or an ambassador of good health? Find a doctor you're comfortable with and who puts you at ease. Ask friends for recommendations.
  • Consider your doctor an ally in your effort for good health and not as someone who judges you. Frequently people who are anxious about going to the doctor feel he/she will be angry or upset if you're not taking care of yourself. See the doctor as someone with whom you collaborate and discover ways to be healthy.
  • Think ahead. An annual physical will provide these bonuses: confidence knowing you're in good health, information to become even healthier, a clean bill of health that can set your mind at ease, and the knowledge that each subsequent regular visit will be easier and more beneficial.

For more by Jonathan Alpert, click here.

For more on emotional wellness, click here.