How to Overcome Your Fear of Hospitals
Some of us fear heights. Some fear small and confined spaces. But some fear a significant place. And those are hospitals. This fear is known as nosocomephobia. It’s different from latrophobia or the “white coat syndrome,” which is the fear of doctors. Instead, nosocomephobia entails fear of the hospital itself and what it may represent in their minds. It’s a fairly common fear, too. One of the most well-known cases is former United States President Richard Nixon. He once even said, “If I go to a hospital, I’m fairly sure I won’t come out alive.”
It’s normal for us to have our own fears. If we have a traumatic experience in, say, bodies of water, it’s alright if we refuse to swim in seas and oceans or ride ships. But the fear of hospitals is something that we all have to overcome. If we don’t and spend the rest of our lives avoiding hospitals, then that poses a very real threat to our health.
The good thing is that we can start trying to overcome our fear in many ways.
Understand our Fear of Hospitals
The first step to overcoming our fear of hospitals is to understand how we developed it in the first place. This way, we’ll attack the fear at the source, so to speak. The most common reason is that we had a very traumatic experience in hospitals. Some of us had very serious injuries that came from accidents, attacks, etc. We spent a significant amount of time in a hospital in the aftermath of our experience.
Thus, our minds are wired to associate hospitals with our trauma. Another possible experience is that we have a bad experience with incompetent doctors or other hospital staff. They might have botched a surgery or other treatment. As a result, our trust in hospitals is broken. Lastly, we might have a loved one who suffered from injuries or illnesses and passed away in a hospital. So being in hospitals triggers the pain of our loss.
Also, our fear of hospitals might be rooted in a whole other fear. Perhaps, as mentioned before, we might have a fear of doctors, specifically. And because doctors dwell in hospitals, we don’t go near the establishments. Another common fear is hemophobia or the fear of blood. Again, since surgeries are conducted and injuries are treated in hospitals, we avoid them at all costs. More common associated fears are mysophobia (Fear of germs) and thanatophobia (fear of death). If our fear of hospitals is rooted in a whole other fear, we need to focus on that.
Take it Slow with Telehealth
“Face the fear.” That’s the ultimate way to overcome any fear. But it doesn’t mean that it’s always effective. If we force ourselves to walk into an emergency room when it’s in its chaotic state, we might trigger a panic attack. What we can do is to take it slow instead.
For instance, if we have a medical concern, then we can turn to telehealth services first. Many hospitals today offer online consultations. Many more of them developed these services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moving to digital services, from managing electronic medical records or EMR to online consultations has been trendy lately. It’s because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to practice social distancing.
With telehealth, we get to consult with a doctor in the comforts of our home.
Talk to Real Doctors, Nurses, and Other Hospital Staff Members
To truly know how to be comfortable inside a hospital, it would be best to pick the brains of those who have been spending the most time in it. Doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff members spend most of their days here, after all. They might be able to tell us many stories that would help ease our worries.
We can ask them for stories with good endings. They might know stories of patients who were real fighters and overcome their injuries or illnesses. Hearing such stories will help us understand that good things also do happen inside hospitals.
We can also ask them to walk us through the medical procedures that we would need should we have a medical concern. Understanding the whole process of treatment will help us prepare ourselves before going to hospitals.