Why Are So Many People Afraid of the Doctor?

Digging into a fear that is more common than you may think.

Shawn Laib
Jan 27 · 4 min read
Photo by Francisco Venâncio on Unsplash

One of the greatest marvels of human society is having the ability to go in to a medical professional and get diagnosed for whatever issue you may be facing.

There are so many physical problems that can arise throughout our lives, and the ability some humans have to understand the ins and outs of the body and then dole out their wisdom is something to be grateful for.

Despite this, there is a large portion of the population that is afraid to go see the doctor. I don’t just mean that they dislike the experience, because nobody really finds it fun to schedule an appointment to be told something is wrong with you.

No, I mean they have a laundry list of reasons for deciding they are going to forgo the medical experience all together. They voluntarily decide not to get yearly checkups, find out what’s wrong with them, etc.

The largest reason for not receiving treatment in the United States is concern over financials, which accounts for 51 percent of people polled by GN Hearing.

But I want to throw those unfortunate circumstances out for now; medical costs are an entirely different serious issue that I’ll leave alone for the time being.

When people have the money or insurance to see the doctor and decide that just don’t want to, the question is why so?

With a little research, we can start to dig into these reasons and figure how we can encourage more people to take care of their health.

The “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” claim

The fear of finding out that something is wrong with you from a diagnosis is one of the main reasons people are dissuaded from going to get checked on.

You have an inkling that something doesn’t feel right, but you go into a state of denial and act like ignoring the problem will make it go away.

I remember doing this with myself right before I was diagnosed as type 2 diabetic last spring. You can read about that journey below.

Anyway, seeing the doctor is what makes the health issue feel real. What makes it feel alive and tangible. When you haven’t been diagnosed, there is always that inkling of hope that whatever is happening to you might just be in your head.

This type of thinking is obviously very dangerous in the long run. Catching something after it is too late is devastating, and usually avoidable if you just accept that bad things can happen to you.

There needs to be a change in perception. Right now, going to a physician is seen as finding out about a new issue. It instead should be taught that you are fixing a problem that wasn’t new, just hiding in plain sight.

“I just don’t have time”

This is a common excuse many family members have given me throughout my life.

Especially when you are going in just to get a routine checkup, seeing the doctor feels like a nuisance in a day in which we are too busy with work, school, life, etc.

Elevate taking care of yourself to the same priority as you do your job or other responsibilities. You (hopefully) wouldn’t say that you are too busy to take a shower or brush your teeth. These are also self-care activities, so think of seeing the doctor like you would those habits.

Find a way to multitask while you are in the waiting room. Catch up on the latest book or video game that you wanted to relax to. If there is an email to send, compose it while killing time before your checkup.

You may think you don’t have time now, but if there is something wrong with you that could have been caught with a simple appointment, then you really won’t have the time to do anything; you just won’t be here anymore. Morbid, but true.

The sterile environment

From an early age, going to the doctor’s office meant seeing four white walls, lots of stainless steel carts and chairs, and boring tabloid magazines on the coffee tables.

It’s a depressing and creepy setting for most of us, and being around it from the times of our youth encourages us to keep those negative memories that are associated with what surrounds the doctor.

Medical offices should find a way to liven up the atmosphere around their place of work to become more welcoming for patients. Those of us visiting should bring family for support, or other diversions to stay sane through the anxiety.

I know that it helped having my dad come with me to the appointments leading up to the diabetes checkups I experienced, and I’m someone who doesn’t really have doctor uneasiness. It shows that everyone needs a helping hand sometimes, even if it’s just for emotional support.

What do you do to combat doctor apprehension for yourself or someone close to you in your family or friend circle? Tell me in the comments below and let’s all try to encourage one another to stay healthy!

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In Fitness And In Health

Inspiring stories related to health, fitness and the pursuit of well-being.

Shawn Laib

Written by

University of Washington Class of 2020 in English Literature and fan of video games and basketball. Twitter: @LaibShawn

In Fitness And In Health

A fast-growing health and fitness community dedicated to sharing knowledge, lessons, and suggestions to living happier, healthier lives.

Shawn Laib

Written by

University of Washington Class of 2020 in English Literature and fan of video games and basketball. Twitter: @LaibShawn

In Fitness And In Health

A fast-growing health and fitness community dedicated to sharing knowledge, lessons, and suggestions to living happier, healthier lives.

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