Nosocomephobia is the fear of hospitals. Like other phobias, it is an unreasonable – but real – fear: unreasonable in the sense that there is no actual cause or proportionate response, and real because the fear has measured symptoms.
Most people do not particularly enjoy hospitals because they associate them with sickness, pain, and death – either their own or that of loved ones. This is the major key; that is, it is a psychological fear. So, the solution needs to be found and conquered in your psyche.
Some people just do not like anyone in scrubs or white coats, but others have deep seated fears that overwhelm them. The initial step is to confirm that you do, indeed, have the phobia as distinct from some physical source. Everybody is a little nervous about hospital care, but phobics are sickened by the fear. You need to find out what the problem is.
- Trembling and shaking
- Excessive sweating and dizziness
- Breathlessness and palpitations
1. Place a trust in your doctor. Trust is the opposite of fear. If you can feel trust in your physician, it goes a long way too reducing the anxiety. Strangely enough, the trust is not built on false promises. The trust is better built on the doctor’s honest appraisal of the process and expectations. It is, for example, easier to handle and process pain if the pain has been explained and described in advance.
2. Be your own best advocate. While you need to put trust in your doctors and practitioners, you will restore some sense of control if you press them on the details. Have them walk you through the process, tour the facility, and interview other patients if possible.
3. Deconstruct the problem. List good feelings and bad. Try to sort out what the priority is to the fears. For example, identify if it is the size, smell, or lack of privacy. Perhaps, there are solutions in smaller or private hospitals and clinics. Visit hospitals for short periods of time; have lunch in the cafeteria, visit the gift shop, or watch from outside until you appreciate the hospital is a workplace with people such as you.
4. Do your homework. Research the hospitals in your area. Hospitals and doctors are graded for their quality and performance. They are scored on specialties that include patient relations which could be important to you. You can also research among your friends and family members. Lastly, when you see someone wearing Cherokee Scrubs, ask them what they think of this doctor or that hospital.
5. Take charge of yourself. List things that will help you heal. Meditate, exercise, or diet well to build physical and emotional strength. If you can muster the strength, volunteer at the hospital or rehab center. Focus all your energy on healing and recovery. Pack your bag and include all the things you might want bedside, such as tissue, lotion, or book. If you concentrate on what to do after surgery, for example, if you make books or movies, short walks or prayer part of the recovery plan, it will hold your attention.
Doctors are cautious about doing more. Sedatives and drugs can reduce the anxiety, but they can also have side-effects that run contrary to the treatment. Others try hypnosis, neuro-linguistic programming, and bio-feedback which, while approved treatments, can be time-consuming. Where time is not a factor, you can also pursue help in education or self-help and support groups.
The anxiety arises mostly from the fear of being out of control, but the solutions lie in trying to find habits and comfort in exercises that control.